I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:3 (NIV)
Last week, youngest son ran in a 5K race last week sponsored by our local Arthritis Foundation called the Jingle Bell Run. While waiting for the race to begin, youngest son’s girlfriend, M., and I took refuge against a building under the protection of its awning as it started to sprinkle. I was amazed at how many people turned out on a cold, wet and windy night. About 2,000 runners and walkers entered the race, and Main Street in our historic downtown was wall to wall people. There were so many entrants that I began to fear for the safety of those near the start line. I could just imagine someone tripping and being trampled in the crowd. M. and I kept our eyes on youngest son whose height made him visible. Finally, the race instructions were given, and the horn sounded. Youngest son said it took him almost three blocks before he could make his way out of the crowd and really start running. With the rain stopped and the crowd thinned, M. and I stood by the finish line watching for youngest son to make the turn onto Main Street. Runners began crossing the finish line in less than fifteen minutes after the race began. As we waited, we realized that we were not standing in a good place. As they slowed their steps, many of the runners bent over and either spit or vomited from the physical exertion. In fact, some sprayed on us. When a dad and his elementary school aged son crossed the line, the son began retching. The proud father patted his son on the back and said, “Great job! That’s the way it’s supposed to feel.” (Now, I realize why my goal of running only lasted into the first week of the New Year). We were appalled and backed out of the “spit zone” to a place we could wait in safety. Soon, youngest son came across the finish line, and we cheered and applauded for him. Despite the obstacles at the start, he finished the race in record time and beat his own personal best. But, as soon as he stopped running, he had to go find a bush and do his own upchucking. All that spit hurling around made me think about how we come across some people in our lives who seem to enjoy spitting and vomiting on us. We are just minding our own business, and they heave all this venom upon us for no reason. Some psychologists call those kind of people “toxic people”. If we are fortunate, they are not important to us, and we can just walk away and ignore them. But, what do you do when you can’t cut that person out of your life? There are many techniques that have been suggested, but for me, it helps to remember that God has promised to curse those who curse me. When compared to eternity, I’m just standing in the spit zone for a little while.