I almost did it, and I’m so glad I didn’t.
We were at a Veteran’s Day assembly, on the fourth row of a group of chairs, watching the elementary school kids file in and find their places for the program. We had brought my dad, because his great grandchildren were part of the performance, and we wanted him to be able to see everything and enjoy. I mean, who wouldn’t want their 94-year old father to be able to see and smile at the little kiddos as they filed in and looked over to see if we were there?
As the kiddos filed in, there were three adults standing on the front row just chatting and blocking our view…totally. We could only see their backs, and I became increasingly annoyed that they weren’t sitting down so that all behind them could see. Kids filed in and waved, but these three blocked so many, just so they could stand there and visit – or so it seemed!
Someone beside me even remarked, “Why don’t they sit down?”
I thought about tapping these folks nicely on the shoulder to ask if they would sit, and I almost shouted, “Would you please sit down! We back here cannot see!” But, I didn’t.
Aren’t you thankful for those times when your impulses to speak are somehow subsided and you don’t even know why, but later you’re so thankful something stopped you?
This was one of those moments.
I said nothing, and eventually they sat down for the program and all was well. I was no longer annoyed, but still thought how rude it was for people to be so inconsiderate. That was a judgment I made purely on what I saw from the back view of these grown folks that blocked our view…
After the program, there was a parade through the halls of the school, with a drum roll playing, kids putting out their hands, and all of the veterans walking and being honored – it was so cool – and quite emotional!
As we came around the corner, I spotted one of the guys that had been standing “in the way” and this time I saw him from the front, as he was standing near a doorway he had open for us. His speech was a bit slurred, he appeared to be disabled, but he had the sweetest voice and smile. Immediately, I felt ashamed that I had only viewed that guy from the back, critical in my assumption that he was being rude, when in reality he was a sweet veteran that perhaps had been injured in a war. Or clearly, he had suffered in some way…
Immediately, I felt a rush of thankfulness that my impulsive mouth had been stopped by some unseen force, when I almost blurted out a directive to these folks to plant their butts in their chairs. (Okay, I wouldn’t have said that, but it’s what I was thinking.)
Oh, believe me. I’ve said things before on impulse and wanted to run and hide because of what I’d said. But this time, I didn’t say it. I waited and stayed quiet and enjoyed the show, even though for five minutes my view was blocked. It didn’t prohibit me from having a good time, at all.
As we walked to the car, I thought of the numerous times we start to act on impulse, and sometimes do. But then I was thankful for the other times when our impulses are squelched just in time to realize the huge mistake we would have made, had we spoken that nasty directive or judgment out loud.
It helps to pause when we feel impulses, and think. It helps to listen when we feel impulses, and wait. And it sure is nice when we think and pause and wait, and find out later that we spared us all an avalanche of hurt feelings and offenses because we did just that.