A few Sundays ago, M, W & I were enjoying a lovely summer walk around a local lake when we came upon a park bench along the side of the path. There was a black, wrought iron planter stuck in the ground next to the bench, but instead of a plant, it contained a ziploc baggie holding, on a piece of cardboard, a handwritten note that said something like this:
“Several years ago, I put this bench and planter here in memory of my late husband. Every day, I have walked to this planter to water the flowers it contained. Yesterday I arrived to water the flowers only to discover that they were gone. Apparently someone else needed some sunshine in their life so they took the flowers. Sincerely, Mrs. ___________”
“Now that’s a little passive aggressive!”, my husband noted, and I heartily agreed. Aside from being struck with a dose of sadness by the woman’s obvious loneliness, I was struck by the fact that even though she was obviously hurt (and probably angry) enough to leave a note for all to see, something prevented her from either leaving the matter be, or simply and honestly writing “Someone stole my flowers, which really makes me sad. If it was you, please return them.” Instead it seemed that she felt the need to dance around the issue, hoping that someone would “get the hint” that she was hurt. And mad.
Ah, passive aggression.
I can gripe about it all day, but I do it all the time! You see, it’s soooo much easier to hint at feeling hurt than to:
a) Either forgive and forget, or
b) Simply confront the person who sinned against me.
Oh, oh! Let me give you an example. It was a glorious, shining moment for me, I’m sure you will agree.
Last week M, W & I were enjoying a lovely afternoon at the Science Museum. We had yet to see the Star Wars exhibit, and considering the fact that we are M is a Star Wars nerd, we knew we had to see it before it closes at the end of this week. The exhibit itself was pretty cool, but the museum was another story (probably for another blog post). Lots of grumpy staff members…way too many rules (“…and why exactly can’t I come back into the exhibit if I leave to go to the bathroom even if I have a stamped ticket to show you I paid to get in?”).
But I digress.
My glorious, shining moment occurred after we had seen the Star Wars exhibit as well as all we could see inside the museum, when we decided to check out the “Big Back Yard”, an outdoor area at the museum featuring mini golf, an area to “mine for gems”, and several park benches. It was quite lovely, so the 3 of us found a cozy little park bench area adjacent to the 18th hole, where we enjoyed the beautiful weather for about 20 minutes or so.
Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught the split-second motion of a young, towheaded boy standing at the 18th hole, no more than 20 feet away from us, swinging his golf club as hard and fast as he could….
I saw a small, blue blur whiz through the air, past my baby’s stroller, probably a foot and a half from his head, and land 4 feet directly in front of us.
A golf ball. A hard, fast golf ball could have hit my precious baby!
Mark’s back was turned to the boy, but I saw the whole thing. The boy was absolutely reckless, but just being all-boy. I probably would have been “shaken, not stirred”, if it wasn’t for the reaction of his mother:
“hahahahaha, oh Tommy, you hit the ball too hard, hahahahaha!”
Calmly, I stood up to retrieve the ball and return it to them.
“Oh, we don’t need that back,” the mother says, laughingly.
Slowly, ignoring her words, I marched the 20 paces to them, thinking to myself all the way:
“I will be gracious. I will hand them their ball back and smile and tell them it’s OK. Surely she will apologize, after all.”
I handed her the ball back.
More laughter. Laughter!
So what did I do? Why of course, I smiled brightly, wished them a lovely day and returned to my husband and son for the remainder of our afternoon in the Big Back Yard…
….OH NO WAIT….actually, I handed her the ball and kindly and honestly said “Please don’t laugh, my son was almost hit and could have really been hurt.”….
….OH NO WAIT. That’s NOT what I did, either.
Here’s what I DID do: I silently but purposefully MARCHED back to the stroller, turned it around, and STORMED — STORMED — off. Right in front of her. I hoped she saw it (and I know she DID see it), and, for good measure, I was sure to mutter something (loud enough for her to hear) about how I guessed I needed to get W away from the mini-golf because the golf balls were flying (What I really meant by this was “Lady, your kid almost hit my son, and I hope you feel BAD for laughing about it!!!”)
Oh yes, it was a glorious, shining moment in my Christian walk. The love of Jesus was flowing right through me, I tell ya.
You know what the most awful/funniest part of the whole thing was? When I “stormed off”, I didn’t really know where I was going, so I stormed down the path right into the other part of the golf course, which didn’t make any sense, and was a dead end! So I had to turn the stroller around and go the other way. This was right in front of the woman, too. If she wasn’t frightened of the hideous creature I had become, she probably would have laughed at my buffoonery.
Thankfully I have a husband who very NOT passive-aggressively called me on my error (saying something to the effect of “cool it!”) and a God who is FULL of mercy and grace to forgive me.
Proverbs 24:26: “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”
Passive aggression: it honors NO one. It makes us look like fools. It gets us nowhere.
So really…it’s passive REgression.