One often expects to feel good about doing a good deed. Well it does not always happen. The day I set out to do a good deed I was a bit rushed. I had stopped at a grocery store on the way into the office and bought a bouquet of flowers. I had to check five bouquets before I could find one that didn't have wilted flowers (or so I thought). I had brought three very nice vases from home and in the parking lot I separated the flowers, placing some in a vase for our secretary. I brought the flowers in and gave them to her just as a little sunshine gift. As I set them down for her I mentioned that she would need to add some water to the vase.

Her demeanor immediately should have put me on guard that I was about to be shot down by the cutting words of a sharp tongue. She asked in an abrupt tone, "And just why would you give me flowers and not bother to put water in the vase?"

I was taken aback by her brusque manner and must have stood speechless for at least five seconds before I apologetically explained that I didn't want the water to spill all over my car on my drive into town. I live out in the country and right then our road was a mess of slick mud, causing the car to slide and rattle from one side to the other. I just didn't think she would mind adding water to the vase.

"Well", she continued, as if I was a naughty child and she certainly intended to make an example of me, "what kind of gift is this? Look at this flower," she said disdainfully as she tapped the little pink carnation, "it is wilted!”

By now I was shocked at her rough and thoughtless manner and embarrassed at being the center of attention, for a small crowd of employees had stopped in their tracks at the front of the office and just seemed mesmerized by what was unfolding at the front desk. I wanted to fade away from the whole scene.

When the secretary continued I could hear a snicker from behind me and couldn't believe that anyone could find this funny. But the secretary seemed to refuel with the attention she was getting and she touched another carnation.

"And what about this one, it looks rather wilted too?” She flicked at it in a condescending manner

My gosh, didn’t her mother teach her any kind of manners at all?

Then she continued in a dramatic fashion, while snickering and laughter from one individual seemed to stimulate her to find more fault with the little bouquet. She touched another flower and then another and another, ridiculing each one.

"This one looks kind of droopy too and so does this one. Where did you get these anyway? They certainly aren't fresh!”

By now I felt like I was in some ridiculous melodrama as I watched her play out her part. My emotions charged through me in a chaotic manner from embarrassed at the scene and apologetic for not having found a nicer bouquet to disappointed and then angry at her thoughtless actions and words.

I turned my back on her and began walking out, slowly. I was fighting tears and working to keep my composure. I spoke to her with my back turned from her.

“I can not believe that you would behave in this manner and be so hurtful when I tried to do something nice for you.” By now I was only six steps away and I turned and faced the one individual who had been laughing and directed my next remarks to him, “and I cannot believe that when someone is hurt you would choose to laugh. I feel so badly. How can you see something funny in my feelings being hurt? What is with that anyway?”

He looked at me startled, stuttered over a few words, had the decency to look embarrassed and then said, “I don't know.”

I turned away from him and walked into the small open area where photocopying is done and began working the photocopier as I tried to settle down my thoughts. I felt so aggravated at just everything; the store for selling me a bouquet with some flowers wilted; irritated with myself for not finding nicer flowers; then I was annoyed at the individual who laughed, and I was infuriated with the secretary for putting on such a public and demeaning display.

Later I promised myself, “I’ll never do another nice thing for that thoughtless, condescending, insensitive old bat.” This was not the first time her abrupt behavior and thoughtless words had left me feeling hurt and aggravated.

The following day I sat at my kitchen table reading my daily scriptures. The chapters were all about Joseph, this was Joseph, son of Jacob, who had been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery to Egyptians. Joseph's life took some interesting turns and though he ended in prison, eventually he ended up in a position second to the Pharaoh. By and by, Joseph's entire family went begging for food in Egypt. Joseph, the head man there was forgiving, gracious and caring even to the brothers who had betrayed him.

The final scripture I read that day left me sitting there stunned, for I felt it was directed at me. “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another: for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin,

I felt chastised. I was holding a grudge and was determined not to do one more nice thing for the secretary. Suddenly I knew how important it was for me to forgive her actions. I thought, “well maybe I might send her a nice card.” With that single thought, I immediately felt something amazing happen. In my chest it was as though a dark spot had been replaced by delightful light. I began feeling so good and knew my grudge was gone. I felt full of light.

It was as though heavy drapes blocking the sun has just been opened and the light spilled in like a carefree toddler. Forgiveness is such a blessed gift, I think I just received a smile from God.

Anger is a choice

Ellie Braun-Haley, shaley@telusplanet.net

Post Script Ellie says she is so glad that she kept her composure and later learned the best lesson of the day, that of forgiveness.

Ellie is the author of four books and is presently working on a new book, a compilation of true personal stories about heavenly intervention. Her short stories have been published in numerous e-zines.

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