The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Can't control others - only my response


July 3, 2019

It was a bad pain day. My usual “peopley” self was amped down a couple of notches.

We had parked close to the front of a grocery store, and I made my way from the jeep to the door, wincing with every step. My joints weren’t cooperating; my feet wouldn’t bend, my knees wouldn’t bend. I stumbled along like a rusted penguin soldier.

This, it seems, irritated a driver who was trying to get from one side of the parking lot to the other. He felt compelled to not only share his thoughts with me, but drove close enough to us so that I could really hear them.

My first reaction was irritation. It was hot and I was hurting. I was moving the best that I could. And, I was embarrassed to have someone yell at me in front of other shoppers while I wobbled into the store.

My next thought was, don’t judge me; you don’t know my circumstances. Simple enough, right? I was taught that from a very early age. I continued my grumbly path inside the store. Once inside, I found myself standing across from the driver. Awkward (and grumbling inside). I couldn’t help but notice the big, shiny cross hanging from his neck, and thought that made yelling at me all the better.

And then I heard it: Don’t judge. Awkward (and still grumbling).

Don’t judge. It IS simple and most of us are taught that early on; however, we all do it whether we think we do or not.

Case in point: While I was chastising this fellow in my head about his parking lot shenanigans, I was busy judging him because what he was wearing didn’t match his behavior. Ouch: Don’t judge.

That realization took some of the wind out of my indignation. I no more knew what was going on with him than he knew what was going on with me. He could have been worried about something or someone. He could have had a tough morning at home or work. Who knows; but really, does it matter? Probably not. The lesson was more about my reaction than his.

The sense of injustice that stems from our “righteous indignation” can get us into all sorts of trouble. I don’t know about his reaction. I know mine came from a high pain load and embarrassment, resulting in a moment of divine intervention to get over myself.

I cannot control anyone else’s behavior. The only thing I can control is my response to that behavior, one wobbly penguin soldier step at a time.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at:

padobson[email protected]


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