Just One Thing
It was a brand new Jeep Wrangler with all the bells and whistles -- and I live in Houston so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at the pink-and-black sticker, big and bold on the rear window: "Spoiled Oilfield Wife."
Complete with black gold gushing out of an oil well...
A slender, tanned arm hung carelessly out of the window, bedecked with a pirate's booty of costume jewelry. Long fingers tapped the car door restlessly, a ring-finger diamond flashing as it caught the sun.
Don't get me wrong. I didn’t begrudge Spoiled Oilfield Wife her money – it’s no secret those men work very hard for their money -- and I certainly didn't begrudge her an indulgent spouse. THAT’S a blessing I wish for everyone who binds himself/herself to another person for life.
Nope. I begrudged her the sticker.
I tried to stop myself, I did, but I was already in a snit about the traffic when I decided the sticker annoyed me, and the mean little voices in my head saw the opportunity and took it. They started slow and easy-like with vague remarks about "poor people" and "people who are struggling" and then got a little more specific... "nice for HER but..." "sort of thoughtless" and then !BAM! one of the voices went full-blown sarcastic and asked derisively if Spoiled Oilfield Wife even knows that 1,849,060 children in Texas suffer from food insecurity. One of the other voices answered, Doubt it.
Things began to spiral. The traffic wasn't moving, the news was droning on in the background, and the voices shifted, as they sometimes do, to Other Indignant Thoughts. The orphans in Somolia…the refugees from Syria…and I'm pretty sure one of the voices was still chattering about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. (And if you think this "quite" a jump in negative thinking -- from a rear window sticker to Syrian refugees -- then you haven't been stuck in Houston traffic...or met the voices in my head.)
I started to feel more annoyed about the sticker. I mean, let's be honest. If you put a sticker on your rear window, that's deliberate. You WANT people to know that thing about you.
He's not your president You're pro GMO You ran 26.2 Your daughter is a dancer Your sons play lacrosse Your dog is smarter than your neighbor's honor student...
It's a choice. It’s an announcement.
I scowled as Spoiled Oilfield Wife's lane moved forward (of course MY lane was not budging), and an old green Toyota Tahoma pickup took the Jeep Wrangler’s place. As the day would have it, the beat-up pickup had something on the rear window too...
On the rear window of the pickup was John 3:16.
Not the numbers. The WORDS.
Had it just been John 3:16, I might not have thought much about it. I mean, it’s a beautiful verse. But when you’ve seen John 3:16 on bumperstickerscoffeemugstnotecardsornamentsshirtshoodiesANDTATTOOS…it kinda loses its bang.
But this was different. THE WHOLE VERSE had been painstakingly lettered on the window ONE LETTER AT A TIME with cheap 3-inch black and gold alphabet stickers. Someone had taken the time to press on every letter ... going slow to get the spacing right ... making decisions about where to break the lines...It mattered that much.
I peeked at the driver. She was in her late 60s, a small woman with gray hair cut super short and spiked in all directions on top, which made me smile. No jewelry. Just wire-rimmed glasses. She was smoking a cigarette. She looked like she was enjoying it.
As I looked back over the letters, edges curling up on an "O" here and a "S" there, the mean little voices in my head became quiet and still. Quiet enough for me to hear The Only Voice That Matters.
Both women had something to say to their worlds that day. One wanted the world to know what she had; The other, what she wanted to give.
And I’ve been thinking… If you could tell the world ONLY ONE THING -- If you were going to wear a message emblazoned across the front of your shirt, or in large letters across the back --
If you could tell the world Just One Thing, What would it be?
Now do this. Go forward today as if you wear those words.