After a recent evening out, my wife and I decided to end our evening with some ice cream. We went to a very popular place and got in the ordering line. Since it was a warm evening, we weren’t the only ones with the same idea – so the line was pretty long. But, hey, it’s ice cream! …And good ice cream is well worth the wait!
But we couldn’t have imagined what transpired just right before our turn to order.
The young man, just in front of us, brought everything to a screeching halt! After waiting in that long line (at an ice cream place) he ordered… a brownie. Not a brownie with ice cream (that was on the menu). “Just a brownie, please.”
Have you ever seen the dull look of a trapped animal? That was the look that swept across the faces of all the teenage employees working that night. None of them knew what to do. For the next several minutes it was like tag team wrestling as each employee “passed on” the customer to someone who (supposedly) had more experience in such matters.
About this time, everyone in the store had fixed their gaze upon the one young man whose request had put everything in permanent “park.” The people behind us were glaring. Someone, further back, was heard to whisper (on purpose?) “There’s a bakery across the street.” It was that one moment we all dread – being the focus of attention for all the wrong reasons. But still, he persisted… “Just a brownie, please.”
Finally, after about ten minutes of “hemming and hawing” the teen with (apparently) the most experience decided that they could sell someone just a brownie, came up with a price, and got the line moving again… All was right in the world, once more!
I confess that I am getting to that state of “maturity” in life, where I am realizing that moments like this can be “teaching moments” (or more correctly, “learning moments.”)
So for the next few days I pondered what was to be learned by the situation of the young man, right in front of us, who had put the hold on my hankering for ice cream.
There are so many possible lessons, but I think there is one that applies the most.
I tend to be the kind of person that wants people to like me. And I have the reputation of being a pretty likable guy. The problem with this is that when it comes time to take a stand about something important, I also tend to shy away from any kind of confrontation. If I stand strong for something, and you disagree, you might not like me… so it is better to let things go, than to upset “the ice cream shop.”
The young man in the shop knew exactly what he wanted. It was “right” to him. And even though, he became the ill-focus of everyone in the room, he stood his ground, maintained his resolve, and walked out with exactly what he came in for.
What others think about us can be a powerful deterrent – even when we know the right thing to do is to take a stand, in spite of the consequences.
I am also reminded that this same thought applies to our current culture. Political correctness is often the rule of the day. And though I certainly think that we need to be sensitive and compassionate towards others who think differently from us – we should also be willing to take a stand and call wrong, “wrong.”
The more I think about it, the very essence of being the salt and light is being willing to be like a young man ordering a brownie in an ice cream store. As God’s people, we are often called to go against the grain, or row against the flow of the stream. Even if it makes us look foolish…
I am also reminded that there was another young man who was often taking unpopular stands, and he said: “Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools…”
I hear you, Paul.
Thanks, brownie dude.