The line in the post office was long. I had two kids in tow and we were quickly approaching naptime, but I had a package I needed to get out so I hoped for the best and stayed the course. The line slowly shuffled forward. My son said words like “boring” and “forever” and asked questions like “how much longer?” While my son articulated his impatience my two-year-old demonstrated her angst physically. She began throwing her body around, touching everything and even at one point yelling something that sounded a lot like “you’re a bad bad mom.”
I resorted to sweeping her up in my arms, I pulled the package from my purse along with my credit card. I’d have everything ready to go, I’d be quick, I promised my children.
Finally, after what felt a lot like an eternity we made it to the front. A tall gentle-faced woman waved me to her station, I prepared to exhale. “See, this will be easy,” I confidently thought to myself. I quickly handed her the package and said: “whatever is cheapest.” She inspected the package and furrowed her brow. “You don’t have enough tape,” she explained. I stood there blank-faced. I wasn’t really sure that the appropriate amount of tape was, the package was closed and safely sealed. We both stared at each other for a moment, after a pause she sighed and said, “well because I’m so nice I’ll tape your package for you, but in general we want our packages properly taped before we can process them.”
My two-year-old continued squirming in my arms and my six-year-old was now jumping up and down and hanging from the counter. The new long line that had assembled behind were now starring, begrudgingly I’m sure. I started sweating like a pig and muttered something to the effect of “thank you, you can see my hands are full.”
Then it was time to pay, the package would cost $2.67 to send. I swiped my credit card quickly and hoped to bolt from the watching eyes of everyone in line behind me. “The machine isn’t ready yet,” the teller said, “Not yet, not yet, okay now.” I swiped my card again and then she stopped me, “Wait is this credit?” “Yes,” I replied. “I need your identification.” My ID was buried at the bottom of my purse, the abyss, which was at my hip, meaning finding my ID would require I set my daughter down and chance her bolting toward the door, not an option I decided. “Why didn’t I bring my stroller?” I lamented. I struggled and did the “I’m trying not to lose my kid and still grab something for you dance.” I’m pretty sure the people behind me at this point were rolling their eyes and sighing.
I finally found my wallet, flipped it open and essentially waved it in her face. It was low, rude, and totally unacceptable. “Wait for your receipt,” she practically yelled at me. I pulled it from her hand and hustled the kids to the car, chiding them the whole way. “How can you behave like that in public?” But an inner voice spoke to me, “how can you behave that way?”
I hastily buckled my toddler into her seat and gave her a stern look. “That was naughty,” I scolded. Her chin began to quiver and big huge crocodile tears began to roll down her face. “I’m a bad girl!” she cried. My son just curled himself into a ball in his booster seat, as if knowing that Mom was no longer “cool.”
And he was right. I had lost my cool. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and pretty much sick of myself. Why couldn’t I just let that lady roll off my shoulders?
I got home, got the kids in the house and took a moment. I texted a friend about the encounter and just sat with myself for a moment. I concluded that some days I just can’t do people. Or as my new friend puts it, “it’s just too people-y out there.”
Pretty unbecoming of a Pastor’s wife huh? Aren’t I supposed to have endless amounts of patience and an ever soft-tongue? I should be constantly gracious and always even-tempered, right? But the fact is that I am so just very me, and perhaps this highlights my need for Christ. My deep deep need for Christ, because without Him—can I just be totally honest—without Him I could have gone postal in that post office.
In an ever-changing world, I need Christ as my steadfast metric, my example for living. However, (still being honest and Rachely) I’m so thankful for Christ’s large range of emotions. I’m so thankful that alongside love and compassion He did express anger and frustration. He flipped tables in temples and put people in their places. Now, not that I should go around flipping tables or people off for that matter, but I am allowed to feel frustration. I don’t have to berate myself when I feel my jaw clenching, but I do absolutely need to express my emotions properly and keep myself in check.
So, in check, I sit. Self-assessment complete. Done and done.
However, all self-checks aside, I’m pretty sure I’ll be avoiding the post office for a good long while.