(Victoria’s note: I have changed the names and some of the details to protect their identity)
Oh, how I despised Petunia Magnolia! Their huge ego and self-centered-rudeness to other performers was more than I could stomach.
“Someone should take them down a notch!” I would gossip to another ‘anti-them confidant’ after we had shared the latest back-biting incident in our repertoire. My poisonous venom increased with each new offense that I would hear about from other entertainers or fans. Secretly I nominated myself that I should be that person to knock some humbleness into their little selfish world. I decided that I was going to be the judge, jury, and executioner all rolled up into one self-righteous war machine of seek and destroy. Petunia Magnolia was my only target in this cold war.
But yet, I hated to admit it to anyone, especially to myself, that they are a great talent! Exceptional would be a better word. Their singing, voices, songwriting, appearance, stage presence, blah, blah, blah was beyond good. It was great. And they knew it. And they made darn sure that anyone within earshot knew it too. That I guess was the biggest burr under my saddle. Humbleness was a word totally foreign to their vocabulary.
My nasty little war wasted a lot of my time. But I didn’t mind. My decay of not doing what was right I justified by not forgiving or trying to understand what may have been going on in their personal lives at that time. It was easier to dislike them and seek silent vengeance than to forgive, or better yet, pray for them.
What lead me up to this point had started years before . . .
Bear and I were in attendance at an award’s ceremony. Petunia Magnolia had won another one or two coveted trophies and accomplishments to add to their growing inventory. Of course they deserved them, but that still disgusted me regardless of the blind truth. I kept thinking that someone other than them should have won them. So I decided to remove myself from hearing their acceptance speech by going to the ladies room. A flushing toilet would be a better sound to my ears.
After exiting the stall, I made my way to the sink area to wash my hands. However, I was shocked to see one of Petunia Magnolia standing there adjusting her cowboy hat in the mirror!
“Crap!” . . . okay, not an appropriate word to use in this situation . . “Nuts!” I thought to myself, suddenly aware of just how awkward I felt.
With all of my cancerous contempt that filled my soul, I wanted to totally ignore her, just like we all are guilty of doing to the panhandlers that stand on the busy city intersections. It’s easier to just pretend they are not there. However, in a short moment, the silence between us was very thick as I continued to rinse the soap off from my hands. Finally, I took a deep breath and ventured, ever so slightly, to do what was right.
“Congratulations on winning the blah-blah-blah awards” I lied through my fake smile as I reached for the paper towel holder on the wall.
“Oh, uh thanks. You know Victoria . .” and then she preceded to tell me just how greatly they deserved those honors while she straightened out her beautiful-fitted-western-jacket over her just-as-gorgeous-broom skirt and custom-made-given-by-a-sponsor cowboy boots. I hated that too. Hate. Hate. Hate.
“Oh brother! Gag a maggot! Why did I even try?!” I curse to myself as I roll my eyes and walk away tossing the paper towel into the nearest receptacle. “Well okay, chalk that up to ‘don’t bother to compliment in the future’ file!”
I am still fussing to myself as I rejoin Bear back in the auditorium. Luckily it’s dark so no one can see my obvious scowl on my face as I relive the encounter over and over in my wicked little mind; only with different outcomes . . . like I should have thrown up.
Or laughed and said, “Really? I voted for someone else instead of you! Hah! Take that!”
After the evening’s festivities were over, small pockets of musical jam sessions were breaking out in various locations throughout the host hotel. Since I am an early riser, by this time of the night I am completely tuckered out and just want to get ready for bed. Bear typically is also exhausted from performing all day, but this time he decides to partake in the after-hours fellowship.
As I wait for the elevator doors to open, I give him a “have-fun-don’t-worry-about-when-you-get-in-but-don’t-wake-me-up” quick lecture as I disappear into the waiting moving cubbyhole.
The next day we are on the road leaving town towards home and I sense there is something wrong with Bear. He hasn’t been himself all morning while we were packing and eating breakfast.
“What’s wrong babe?” I reach over from the passenger seat and lay my hand on his forearm.
He hesitates before he answers me –
“Well, to be real honest with you Vic, I don’t think I want to tell you.” He responds while keeping his eyes straight ahead down the road. I pull my hand back and snap into an upright position.
“What the . . why not?!” I am immediately puzzled at his statement. We have always made a point in our 30 + years of marriage not to have secrets between us.
“Uh, because you will blow up and it’s not worth that” . . .
“WHAT?! Why don’t you let me make that decision? Tell me what’s wrong!” I’m getting more upset by being accused of getting upset. Go figure.
“Well, okay. Remember last night when I left to go jam even though I usually don’t do that?”
“Yes, of course. I went on to bed.”
“Soooo, . . .”, he pauses before he continues, “when I turned around from the elevator landing, I immediately heard some music coming from this one room down a short hallway. I decided to just go over there since it was close and join them, like people do and are expected to do when there are jam sessions going on . . .”
“So, what’s the problem with that?”
I still am trying to A. figure out the story here / B. where this is going and / C. how does it involve me and my temper?
Bear sighs as he now is treading where angels dare not go. He cautiously bits his lower lip –
“As I was about to step into the doorway with my guitar, suddenly Petunia Magnolia approached me and told me I was not welcome to come in there. That room was for ‘A-Players Only’ (a pitiful rating of other entertainer’s talent. Unfortunately a person is an A, B, or C. Lower than a C and you shouldn’t even own a guitar. Sad thing is; once a person is labeled to that cache system, they can almost never improve to a higher level).
“WHAT?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! TURN THIS TRUCK AROUND! NOW! I’M GOING TO GO FIND THEM RIGHT NOW! I MEAN IT! THEY CAN ATTACK ME ALL THAT THEY WANT BUT NOT YOU! MY SKIN IS THICKER! YOU ARE INNOCENT AND HAVE BEEN NOTHING BUT KIND TO THEM! TURN AROUND AT THE NEXT EXIT!”
“No Vic! I said it’s not worth it. I knew that was how you would react so that’s why I didn’t want to tell you until now when we are a safe distance away. Forget about it, okay? It’s said and done and over. Please promise me that you will not contact them and cause trouble?!”
Bear looks at me calmly with tears in his eyes. This self-doubting wound has gone deep thanks to them. Now Bear feels defeated and small and embarrassed. Those were his peers in that room. And more than likely, they had no idea of what had happened. At least that is what I hoped to believe.
I remain quiet. Pure hatred courses through my veins. First blood has been drawn and it was innocent blood of a person that does no harm to anyone. I go so far to think that I should have attacked her in the restroom when I had my chance. There would have been no witnesses. Wow! I was going off of the deep end on this.
And so I continued to not to forgive. Not to try and reconcile. Not to even ask them to talk civilly about what happened that night at the jam session. No. I just let the hate simmer over a low boil waiting for my next opportunity of a chance meeting.
And then it happened. Bear and them were booked to perform at the same event on the same stage at the same time!
“Are you kidding me?! Hah, the happy spider taunted to the fly that was coming closer to the web of death! What can I possibly do to make their life miserable while they are there? Let me think about that” . . .
“Wait! That wasn’t me! Don’t listen to that voice! That’s Jesus talking!”
“NO, come on manI They deserve this! Look at how they have been treating people! I don’t care that You have had enough of this stupid hurtful nonsense! I haven’t yet! In fact, I am still enjoying this!”
“I know You want me as Your child to remove the self-adhered scales that I have held in place by hatred, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and other non-Fruit of the Spirit actions that have been clogging my soul and heart. I know You are telling me to forgive them!”
“AAAAAGGGHHHH! Give me a break! I’m so good at this game! I don’t want to . . . I don’t want to. . . I don’t want to . . . “
And then it happened.
“I don’t want to hate them anymore. I don’t want to continue like this anymore. I don’t want to be this kind of person anymore. . . I . . . forgive . . . them . . . Father. And I ask You to please forgive me for my actions and words! I have failed to be an ambassador for You.”
The next day, after their performance set was over; I waited for them to be alone and then gingerly approached them backstage. I was no longer the roaring lion predator. I was the Lamb of Peace.
“May I speak with you please for a moment? Privately?” I asked with a genuine smile and love in my heart.
“Of course! What’s up girlfriend?” They say as they reach out and take my arm. We begin to walk side-by-side out of anyone’s ear shot.
I stop and turn to face my nemesis. This enemy that I had hated for so long. Their name that I spat out in the past with such malice.
“I need to ask you to please forgive me! I have not treated you kindly! I have not shown you any Christian love! And that’s wrong! I am so, so sorry! Please, please forgive me?” I broke down with hot tears washing away all of those wasted years of carrying such an ugly, ugly burden. And it was only eating me alive. They weren’t even aware of my sickness. Never. And here all along I thought I was hurting them but it was me that I was killing.
We warmly embraced as they repeated over and over again that they had no idea of what I was even talking about! They thought that I had always shown them nothing but kindness!
“Oh, if they only knew the whole truth!” I thought again to myself.
Several months later at another festival, I saw them again. Only this time, I blew them “hello kisses” as I walked down the hallway. They were standing in a side room and saw me walk by . . . and blew them back to me.
Now, I’m not sure, but I bet some kisses were floating down from Heaven on us too.