Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
  • Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
  • Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
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    Soul Rythem

    Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner

    I shouldn’t have said it. As soon as I said it, I knew I shouldn’t have. But I blurted it with intentionality before the filters in my conscience took over.  I was feeling good about myself for finishing my entire set of strengthening and cardio, and was walking out of the Silver Spring YMCA with my workout partner when it happened.  

    As we exited through the glass double doors, we noticed a little girl several steps behind approaching the doors. We both stopped our stride and our conversation to hold the door for her. She walked through both sets as if it were our duty, never even acknowledging our presence, never saying those two words that would have made our gesture worthwhile.

    So I said it, as if to teach the little ingrate a lesson. “You’re welcome.” There, now we made eye contact. She walked ahead and I uttered other words I won’t risk including here given my title as clergy. Those are the same words, for the record, which my workout partner would not co-sign. With curt kindness, she brought me back to where I should be, something I both love and dislike about her.  

    We parted. But that was not the end for me. I went through the day recounting the episode to a few other people. “Children today have no manners,” I said. “Her Momma should have taught her better than that. No wonder we’re as bad off as we are.” I blamed my feelings and my response on a 10-year-old who should have known better, and I justified my terse words based on her bad manners.

    While it’s convenient to make the child take the blame for my uneasiness, the truth is it’s more about me than it is about her. Yes, she should have said thank you. But to allow her to change my mood grants her too much power in my life.

    Even more importantly, had I known up front that she was not going to say it, would my actions have changed? I’d like to think not. I still would have held the door, still would have done what I know is the right thing to do, and still would have behaved as if my Momma taught me manners. My heart’s actions ought not be driven by the need for validation, gratitude, or reciprocity. And when they are, it says more about something lacking in me than it does about a little girl whose mind may have been lost somewhere else.

    I will keep holding doors, letting people in front of me on the highway, and giving a person with one or two items a place ahead of me in the line at the grocery store. And if they acknowledge my kindness, good. If not, good.  

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    Each Friday during Lent, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia T. Turner, pastor of the Dayspring Community Church in Lanham, MD, will write about the “Righteous Mind” on the Soul Rhythms blog. Click here to read other pieces by Rev. Turner.

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