The T-birds versus The Scorpions. (Danny Zuko, anyone?)
It was my side against theirs and I was on deck. My why-we-are-right reasons were queued up. My comebacks loaded. My back pocket held insults and sarcasm. My tongue, sharpened. And I was ready to go there - anything to get the “other side” to see THE LIGHT.
Leading up to this meeting, I practiced my lines with self-righteous, warrior-esque vigor. Somewhere in rehearsing my brilliant sarcastic points guaranteeing me verbal glory, the name “Abigail” crept into my brain. It fluttered around my mind distracting me from my previous performance. (Annoying and when I was just getting good...) Instead it urged me to stop, pay attention and remember her story.
It was a lesson I’d researched and taught for a women’s ministry event.
Abigail was a #girlpower woman married to the cross between Beauty and the Beast’s, Gastan, and The Grinch who stole Christmas. (Real name: Nabal.) A wealthy couple with much land, livestock, property and servants – their cup runneth over. King David – before he was king – was camping out with his men near Abigail and Nabal’s home. They’d been kind and protective of Nabal’s servants and possessions. As hospitality was custom, King David asked Nabal for a favor. On feast day, King David sent some of his men to request Nabal to provide David's group with food. Nabal didn’t just say no. He hurled insults, sarcasm and lashed the men with his l-am-wonderful-and-you-are-a-loser tongue of steel.
David received the insults well.
David was strap-on-his-sword-and-let’s-talk-about-this-with-real-steel outraged. But Abigail got wind of the situation and swiftly interceded with David and his men. She offered wise words and kindness. She extended food and hospitality. She was diplomatic – an ambassador, a peacemaker…a fierce voice of reason. In a time when women were sometimes considered more property than people, DAVID LISTENED TO HER. Her kindness, wisdom and purposeful actions won. (I Samuel 25)
The story flurried around my brain challenging me, coaxing me, flat out chanting: Abigail was legit. She persuaded an army. AN ARMY. Her smart actions and words changed the minds of powerful people. What a woman, this Abigail. Could I play my cards like her? Could I have real influence through carefully chosen words? (What's that I feel? Is it me wanting to be like her?)
So, I revised my original plan. In the meeting, I focused on speaking convincing wisdom. I forced kindness from my lips. Or held my tongue. A lot. I tried to listen and understand and compromise. I didn’t do this flawlessly, but I did it well enough. The meeting went better than expected and I left feeling okay.
When people say “lives are transformed by the power of the gospel,” I think this is one way it plays out in the everyday.
God seeps into our minds and fills us with His truth and His wisdom. It flutters down to our hearts where it overflows into our actions.
Yet, don’t for a second think I'm never rude. I’m actually better than I want to be at the comeback. Or that every conflict ends with a hug and kiss. Oh goodness, invent how to make that happen and be a millionaire.
But this time – this blessed time – when the Holy Spirit whispered His persistent wisdom into my thoughts, I listened and chose God’s path. And let me tell you, I’m positive it worked much better than my original plan.
Jesus, stay near. Forever. Mean it.