UGH! Don’t you just hate it when you step in bubblegum? First of all, we value our shoes and gum just isn’t part of the whole stylish shoe thing we’ve got going on. Secondly, it is just plain nasty—after all, it begs the question, “whose gum is stuck to the bottom of my shoe?” And we all know that it has been in their mouth. GROSS! And it is sticky—that stuff is not coming off without a fight. There’s obviously ice and scraping in my future if I can get it all off at all.
And then there’s the timing of one of these bubblegum events. For me, it’s always when I’m in a hurry or have an important meeting (and always with someone who is not going to understand why there is gum on my shoes or whose carpet I dare not traipse across with bubblegum). Let’s just say I can be perfectly dressed, but if there is gum on my shoes, perfection flies out the window. It’s beyond inconvenient. It is humiliating. And no matter how long I stare at it, how many mean looks I throw its way, or how many bad thoughts I have about the person who put it in my path, it just sticks there. No matter where you are going or how big a hurry you were in, you have got to stop and just deal with it.
Maybe your life is filled with Jimmy Choo or House of Gucci shoes and bubblegum wouldn’t dare think of coming near you, much less sticking to your shoes. For most of us, however, life’s path seems to have an inordinate abundance of bubblegum. It’s hard to avoid all the mess that is just waiting for us to step in it. Minding our own business doesn’t seem to keep it at bay. And sometimes it jumps right from our shoes to our hearts and minds, and our peace and joy are compromised. The perfect life we have been so desperately trying to build evaporates into thin air.
I wish I could promise that you’d never have to step into anything gross that you can’t shake loose, but the reality of life is that stuff happens—to all of us. We might keep from stepping in things ourselves; but if those we love step into something difficult, somehow it sucks up our happiness and stability right along with theirs. Sometimes I think their mistakes hurt us worse than they hurt them.
One very dreary and difficult day, I found myself sitting in a cafeteria with tears streaming down my face. My world had come to an end. No matter where I saw my next step, there seemed to be a bucket of bubblegum waiting to destroy me. My dad came in and sat down across from me. He shared something I’ll never forget. “Carol, there are three reasons why people hurt and there is an appropriate step or reaction for each.
1. You have done something wrong. Your response should be to humble yourself and go to the one(s) wronged and ask for forgiveness.
2. Someone you love has done something wrong or wronged you and you hurt because of their misstep. Your response must be forgiveness. No matter how hard it is to forgive, it is harder to carry the weight of their wrongs on your shoulders. If circumstances allow, walk it out with them without judging.
3. There doesn’t seem to be anyone that did anything right or wrong. . . apparently God has allowed this difficulty in your life (ex., a tornado blows the roof off your house or your car battery dies). Your response is to thank God for the trial and ask His leading and provision in resolution.
I lifted my bowed head and my tear-filled eyes met his. He reached out and took my hands in his and said, “Baby, figure out why you are hurting and take the right action and watch God redeem the circumstances. You see, our God is in the business of redeeming lives and relationships. It’s inherent in His nature, in His names. It’s what He does best.”
Though my dad now sits at the feet of Jesus, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve faced something difficult and been brought back to that table and these three simple, yet profound, options. And some 30 years later, I can tell you they work every time and that indeed my God is a redeeming God. Every single time He has shown up and taken my right heart attitude and turned my tears into triumph. Did it happen overnight? No. But I know the formula and I know my Maker and when I do things His way, He takes up any slack on my part.
No matter what you’ve gotten yourself into, or what may be hurting you right now, sort it out. What’s the root cause? There is a right response and fretting and stewing, stomping, screaming, fussing and fighting isn’t going to get this bubblegum off your shoe. You’ve got to choose the right response. Easy? No. But it will work.