To Hell in a Handbasket

The gentleman entered the restaurant – 60s, slightly gray hair, medium weight, medium build. He was with a younger woman, his daughter, we later found. They had been seated for a couple of minutes, tops, when he began shouting. “Where is the service?! This place is going to hell in a hand basket!! We’ve been sitting here……(inarticulate loud mutters).” My friend (yep, the Hammer) and I exchanged startled glances.

The female server appeared at their table and apologized for the delay. The man jumped to his feet, called the waitress a bitch, and slapped her across the face. There was no thinking about it. I was on my feet and in his face. “It is NOT OK to treat someone like that, especially someone who is serving  you!” (Brilliant statement…jeepers!) The man lunged for me as I stepped around a table. He couldn’t reach me so he bulled toward my friend, who was still seated in the booth shouting “Call the police!” as she dialed 911. The man hit her in the arm, the ineffective blow glancing upward to catch her in the side of the face. A younger man in leaped from his table to defend her, and was hit in the face. Restaurant employees and patrons struggled to physically subdue him, but He  fled to the ladies restroom where he continued to bellow until the police arrived and carried him out on a stretcher, since he had broken his leg during his tirade. His dining companion, his daughter, wandered from table to table apologizing, bewildered. “He has never done anything like this before!” she said.

What was I thinking?! I wasn’t. Everything in me screamed “She is NOT going to take this alone!” The motive may have been right….my RE-ACTION was not.

I don’t think this was just about defending the server. She was an adult – it was presumptuous of me to intervene. I didn’t know her. Her life didn’t appear to be in danger. I didn’t know her past, or how this incident would affect her. I didn’t think to ACT to calm the man or attempt to act wisely or thoughtfully. That is very unlike me. My M.O. is to be still and watch, analyze before I move. Oh, yes, I  have a temper. But I wasn’t angry. AND I WASN’T SCARED.

I think I was defending my daughters. The way I didn’t always do when their father raged at them for no reason (Honor Your Father, http://wp.me/p2GxIs-41).  The way I didn’t do when I was “poked” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-50) over and over by insults, manipulations and subtle threats. I THINK I WAS ABSOLUTELY FED UP WITH ABUSE.

If he had taken my life for confronting him, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTH IT.

It was, simply, NO.    NO.      NO!

I think this may also explain my reaction to my friend, The Hammer (Round Two With “The Hammer”: http://wp.me/p2GxIs-3V).

This happened several years ago. If I was to relive that incident – current time – I suspect I would be less reactive. I might watch, be wary, consider how to respond wisely – just like old times with Peter. I probably wouldn’t get in the man’s face, but I would stand,  be ready, and divert him if needed. I would call the police and make a statement – it would be documented – in case. I HOPE I would be PROACTIVE….consciously trying to influence the best possible outcome (peace, resolution, less violence), rather than being REACTIVE. I now choose to ACT (rational choice with thought of best outcome and how to achieve that) and not RE-ACT (irrational response which plays into the abuse with little consideration of outcome, and which re-establishes me as victim).

And however the situation resolved, I would go to that server and tell her, whether she needed to  hear it or not, that she didn’t deserve it,  didn’t do anything to provoke it, that I respect her and the work she does. I would need to say it.

My friend went to see him in the hospital the next day, to tell him she forgives him and to pray with him and talk with him. He was apologetic and embarrassed. He didn’t remember the incident, and didn’t know what had been affecting him.

Maybe he had a medication issue, or some other physiological problem. Maybe it was the first time. Maybe it wasn’t. I respect him, feel very sorry for his pain and injury. And I see my responsibility to grow in balance and peace. BUT….

BUT – I STILL DON’T ACCEPT HIS ABUSE, TOWARD ME OR ANYONE ELSE.

NO.

For consideration:

Do you think the following verse is literal in this situation?

Matthew 5:39  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

In what circumstance do you think such a response would accomplish the redemptive work the verse suggests? How does that work? How about my friend’s visit to him in the hospital?

I really want feedback on the following question – generally applied – not specifically to the incident I just related:

What actions, and what scriptural view, would protect and comfort the abused, and provide accountability and redemption for the abuser? This isn’t a rhetorical question…I don’t know the answer. I’m asking for your input!

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13 thoughts on “To Hell in a Handbasket

  1. Denise Hisey January 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm Reply

    Hi Diane,
    That sounds like an intense situation for sure! I think calling the police was definitely the right thing to do. If nothing else it gives the daugther a very clear message that dad’s behavior is unacceptable. I seriously doubt this was the first time he’d ever acted out this way.
    As for turning the other cheek -No Way do I think it’s literal. To me, it’s about treating them calmly so not to escalate the situation, but definitely not to allow them to continue being abusive.

    • ranthegauntlet January 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm Reply

      Hi, Denise! I hadn’t considered the daughter’s take on calling the police, but you are right. And thanks for weighing in on the “turn the other cheek.” Blessings! Diane

  2. mybroom January 18, 2013 at 1:52 am Reply

    do you really want a comment ???

    • ranthegauntlet January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am Reply

      You bet, Graeme. Regarding turn the other cheek – an aunt once presented me with turn the other cheek concept along with submission to justify a point of view that a woman should submit, turn cheek, and forgive even if she lost her LIFE (or teeth) doing so, because she would be honoring God and He would bless that (in heaven, I guess). The other question may be too big for comments, really. So if you want to comment, fine…or if you want to e-mail, fine also (our conversation could be another post, with permission). The conclusions you have come to for yourself are very unlike what I have been taught or come to on my own, so I am very open to what you think. It is also kind of a painful subject, or maybe too complex, so would completely understand if you don’t even want to go there!! I most look forward to discussing your Q posts (still reading). Blessings! Diane

  3. mymendingwall January 18, 2013 at 1:03 am Reply

    Wow. I’m not sure how I would react in that situation. No one should be treated that way, but unfortunately, there are people (like this man, your ex, my ex-step-father, my mother) who have no regard for others’ feelings due to their own narcissism.

    Whenever I find myself in a difficult situation, I remind myself of the difference between responsibility vs. respondability.

    Am I responsible for sticking up for a hard-working waitress in a restaurant? If the waitress can’t face this bully I may choose intervene, but not because I am responsible. I cannot control any other person. (If I had children, then I would include them on my responsibility list.) So, usually, the answer to “Am I responsible…?” is, “NO!” I am only responsible for myself, ultimately.

    Do I need to respond in this situation? Is my response going to change anything? Is my response coming from a place that is kind and loving? Should I just say nothing? Again, if the waitress was allowing herself to be verbally abused because she is unable to defend herself, then I would respond to this guy. In this scenario where I have the advantage of knowing that the bully went ballistic, I’d say that yes, I probably would have responded. I’d like to think that I would be rational and sensible, but actually, I probably would have yelled in his face. The new me wants to respond differently, with kindness and love, but needs to work on acquiring those coping mechanism instead of my instant panic button coping mechanism!

    What a story! Thanks for sharing it!
    ~Noel

    • ranthegauntlet January 18, 2013 at 10:34 am Reply

      Hi, Noel! You present a new view here, which I love: responsibility vs respondability. Really good. I will remember this. And asking yourself if you are coming from a place that is kind and loving. Yes. And, like you, I hope I will respond with kindness and love…in the future, since I didn’t in this situation! It is my usual thing to think through my response, but not on this occasion. Thank you for your helpful and thoughtful response. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say!!! Blessings, Diane

      • mymendingwall January 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm Reply

        Don’t beat yourself up for not feeling that you were kind in this situation (although that poor waitress would probably disagree with you!) I’ve also had PLENTY of occasions to aim my displaced anger!

        I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and find so much value in your thoughts and opinions! Keep sharing because you are helping so many people who desperately need it.

        Kind Regards,
        Noel

        • ranthegauntlet January 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm Reply

          Thanks, Noel. I’m OK with what I did, but I also like how you relate the way you check where you are coming from when you respond to someone. My newer version is to see what kind of gut energy I feel in myself, for lack of better word. If I feel this subtle but frantic intensity, I now see it as a cue to chill, check motive, and move back to a place of calm. It’s kind of like when you feel like arguing something, then realize it really isn’t important and chill down again. Sometimes I catch it and sometimes not. With this guy….ALL systems were bypassed! Funny – I confronted the guy, but never spoke again to the server in the chaos. Thank you for your encouragement. I believe you know your stuff, are working your program, or whatever. It shows. Blessings!!!!!! Diane

  4. barbarastanley January 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm Reply

    I have had many occasions during my years teaching and working with the developmentally disabled of irate parents storming into my office demanding an appology or some other form of retribution for a misunderstanding or incident blown out of proportion. I learned to wait until the parent had worn herself/himself down and was ready to listen. The first thing I said was, “You are right to be upset, angry, embarassed, etc.” I validated their emotional investment in their child. From there, I could explain what had actually taken place. I never told them how they should feel about what happened. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the parent left my office feeling ashamed of the way they had acted. I believe Jesus was trying to teach us there is a better way of changing behavior. For the mentally healthy, it usually means allowing them to see themselves and to feel the shame. For those who are not mentally healthy, nothing we do will make a difference. They can’t change behavior they don’t see as ‘being wrong.’ Not all people can be treated successfuly for a mental illness. These people may need to be locked up away from society until their death.

    • ranthegauntlet January 18, 2013 at 10:26 am Reply

      WOW…WOW. THANK YOU, BARBARA! What great insight, and strategy for dealing with people. You are so right…and it is so MUCH kinder to offer validation and allow them to express until communication can be established. I’ve found (and experienced) that telling people how they should feel is a lose-lose for sure. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. I appreciate it and am taking it to heart. Blessings! Diane

      • Barbarabarbarastanley January 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm Reply

        Thank you Diane. As a parent, I found myself on the other side of this equation a couple of times until I grew a little older and wiser. I usually embarrassed myself by my own behavior. It took me a long time to understand that each of us is on a separate journey to God; each of us in our own timeline. A recently saved soul may encounter a lost soul and, based on the actions of each, one will influence the other to her side of salvation. Long-time-saved people tend to forget that the young sinner may be just beginning his journey toward God. Our scorn will never influence the lost for Christ, but our patience and forgiveness just might.
        You are very wise and have learned so much from your experiences. Like me, and many others, you want the answers to those puzzling – to the point of madness – questions concerning human behavior. Sometimes, only God knows and “he ain’t talking.” Love you, friend.

  5. MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com January 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm Reply

    How is it that you have had so many weird events in your llfe?

    You did the right thing. You defended the defenseless. God is with you for that. He defends the defenseless. But you mull the right and wrong of your actions too much. You know what is right instinctively. But then you call into question your sensibility. Why so much self-doubt?

    I don’t believe the turn-the-other-cheek verse is correctly applied to this case. In this case, the defend the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the foreigner (= the defenseless) is the applicable verse. The turn-the-other-cheek verse is about forgiving people who have done you wrong and leaving vengeance for the Lord.

    Hope my ideas help.

    • ranthegauntlet January 18, 2013 at 10:17 am Reply

      Hi, Mike! I have wondered the same things…about the weird stuff! I don’t know, but I certainly have had my share. Self doubt…you bet: I ALSO wonder if there is something about ME that attracts weird stuff! Why the self doubt? I don’t know that either. I do really appreciate your input about the verses. I am curious how different people see this verse, especially after reading my blog a bit. I like your take. Blessings, Diane

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