Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I have continued to stew about the tic-tac needing, close-talking, all-up-in-my-face, evangelical lady.

Many of the comments on that post helped me understand and justify my anger...

"I think we all feel angry or violated when someone else tries to impose their morality on us without first trying to understand WHO we are."

"You're angry because it wasn't PERSONAL. She didn't know anything about you... It became about HER and what she had to do, instead of about YOU and RELATIONSHIP, which is what God calls us to be in with each other."
Painted Maypole

Yeah! What THEY said!

But then, there were also a few comments that challenged me.

"I think it was the Dalai Lama who said, "your enemy is your best teacher."
- the end of motherhood

[Oh, the darned Buddhists... always suggesting you take the high road.]

"Who knows, I'm not sure how your personal belief system works, but maybe it happened for a reason, just to spur your thoughts, emotions and beliefs."

"As annoying as she was, could there have been something that God wanted you to hear through her?"

Though I sincerely wish I were, I am not someone blessed with the gift of absolute faith.

I question and struggle.

I wrestled with the question "
could there have been something that God wanted you to hear through her?"

Would God want me to hear about my Grandparents?

That's what I need to hear about.

[Even though I am not talking to Granny yet.]

I can't help but wonder... if there were a way to send me a message would my grandparents send one?

Would they let me know that they are happy and well? That they are together, reunited?

Just after thinking these things I looked up at my bookcase and saw a photo of my Grandparents smiling down at me.

At Our Wedding

I love this photo.

It was taken at my wedding. K and I were standing in front of them talking with them when it was taken.

In the context of wondering about messages from beyond, their smiles suddenly seemed to mock me.

I started yelling at their photo,


[Uh oh... who seems completely insane now?]

I relayed the story of screaming at the photo to K because someone has to keep track of my sanity besides me.

He thought about whether or not the lunatic in the thrift store could have carried a message
from my grandparents.

He smiled and said,

"They say God works in mysterious ways..."



Anonymous said...


I will be thinking about this all day.

Zaya said...

It's ok to question and wrestle with faith.

I guess I figure if my grandfather was sending me a message that he was ok, that I'd feel peace more than anxiety. She might have just been a crackpot. I've had tons of people, random strangers, ask me if I'm saved. When I ask them politely to bug off, they go and ask the next person that comes their way.

Kevin said...

Ah. The old "Mysterious Ways Clause."

Sara said...

For what its worth I'm not sure unwavering, absolute faith is all where its at.

Doubt means you're invested in the whole thing.

Not questioning and simply taking what you get seems far from what God wants. When you read the bible God rarely calls on people who just do what they're told (see Moses, Sarah, even Jesus 'take this cup from me').

You go with your yelling, angry bad ass self.

naginata said...

I will be thinking of it too. It's interesting to think that even in the absolute weird times things are put here to make us question and wonder. Though I have to agree with zaya in that if it was a message of some sorts peace would hopefully be the goal not anxiety.

as an aside: jj! I love your icon! :)
also, am I the only one who is absurdly smiling when the word verification word actually makes a word of some sort?

jen said...

everybody wrestles. hell, i hear mother teresa wrestled. everyone gets a free pass.

Kyla said...

I think questioning and wrestling is what makes faith great. If it was easy to accept, would we even need it? What value would be in that?

I think that that asking your grandparents for a messenger with good dental hygiene is a reasonable request. Unless, Granny is upset that you are still yelling at her and wanted to teach you a little lesson from the other side? ;)

Jo Beaufoix said...

Reading this, it seems to me you had a message from your grandparents. You looked up, and there they were smiling at you. You could have looked up and seen a photo of the rooster and the major, or the hunky park ranger hubby man, but it was them.

phenom said...


Lisa Milton said...

I don't know if it was a message, or if she was off her meds - but - I struggle right with you sometimes. I wish I had the answers.

{I love the picture too, and the story behind it.}

InkedMom said...

Someone once told me that if you ask God for strength, he doesn't just blindly grant you strength, but puts you in a situation that will end up making you stronger. If you ask for wisdom, you won't gain some supernatural wisdom sent from above, but He will put you in a situation where you will learn and end up wiser.

The same, I think, applies for faith. If you pray for stronger faith, it won't just happen, but He'll send you someone or something that gives you the opportunity to grow your faith through experience. I don't know if that's what "crazy lady" was, but perhaps it's a different way to look at the experience.

ruby said...


I almost commented on the post yesterday, but forgot. I just wanted to say that I am a Christian and would never DREAM of doing what that woman did to you...much less standing that close to someone I don't know for ANY reason. What nerve! It's people like that who make a bad name for Christianity. Ugh.

flutter said...

mysterious Gods are mysterious like that, yo.

furiousBall said...

God is OK with Tic Tacs and so should that lady be.

I talk like Yoda at times I do.

Anonymous said...

They picked someone with bad breath to get your ATTENTION? Perhaps?

You will never forget that meeting, will you?


liv said...

So, can I just go in the opposite direction and posit that perhaps it all meant nothing? Maybe that woman was not "brought" to you for any reason at all except you two were in the same store, and she decided that she was going to "witness" to someone. Sometimes searching for meaning where there is none can be maddening.

Kim said...

Well isn't fun to have think if there was something to think about from a situation you don't want to think about with a lady you don't want to think of.

The point of that random mess is that it is a confusing subject matter to us all. You believe what you believe and let it be at that.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

MeL said...

I dunno... My own relationship with the idea of "God" has been murky for several years now, so take my input with more than one grain of salt...

But whenever someone feels the need to "testify" to me, in the way that this stranger did to you, I can feel my eyes narrowing.

It would show far more compassion and a better understanding of the whole point of being "Christian" to say "I know I'm a stranger to you, but you seem sad... and I just wanted to let you know that I have a few minutes if you could use a sympathetic ear."

Launching into a one-sided dialogue about how YOU have the need to live religion as THEY understand it... is not just unhelpful, it's presumptive and judgmental. What could have been an opportunity to make a golden moment in your day (even if you had said "I don't really feel like talking now, but that you for the kind offer") instead became something that seems to have left you feeling confused and vaguely violated.

If the "great beyond" exists, and your granny is tryiing to tell you anything, it's not going to come in the form of smelly strangers. It's going to come in the form of looking at that photo and hearing your own voice in your had saying "You know what? We're just fine. And so are you."

:) Wow, quite a de-lurk there, I suppose. But hey. There it is.

BOSSY said...

Yeah, like your grandparents are going to pick her. Simmer down little flower.

QT said...

After mel's spot on comment, I don't even know if there is anything useful left to say other than I love that photo, and maybe the next time you have dinner as a family, you should make sure that photo is in the same room with you. That way, you will be dining with the divine.

wordgirl said...

She (God) does work in mysterious ways. So mysterious, in fact, that the batshit crazy woman in the thrift store is a mystery to us all.

Nancy said...

I get the messages God sends to me ... even the ones I don't want to hear.

You said:
I wrestled with the question "could there have been something that God wanted you to hear through her?"

Maybe she was just the poke ... she did stir your thoughts ... and now... 2 posts later, many comments and probably more thinking on your part.

I love that photo of your Grandparents ... they still look in love!

AnotherMomCreation said...

Hmmm, another one to make us all think a little bit.
I don't think it was your grandma talking to you. I don't get the feeling that given the choice, that is what your granma would say.

I am also very surprised at how calm you remained during this encounter. I cannot say for sure that I would have behaved the same.

But, heck, figure it to be a crazy lady's tirade and move on.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I don't really know how it works(who does), but Id like to think that messages from loved ones no longer with us would not come from the zealot with halatosis. Perhaps they would come in the form of a comment made by one of your children that seems wise beyond their years, or a memory of your grandparents that comes unbidden at a time when you least expect it, but may need it the most. Just a thought to de-lurk by. :)

Anonymous said...

Just imagine how many people this woman could have converted by now is she had the knowledge and forethought to purchase listerine strips.

Avery Gray said...

The only thing that's important is what you believe. Do you believe your grandparents were sending you a message? If so, they were. If not, God thought you needed some good blog fodder. See? He has a sense of humor!

Blog Antagonist said...

I am not sure I could be as considerate of those types of viewpoints as you are being.

If one of my dearly departed wants to speak to me, I'd really prefer your garden variety apparition myself.

The look like very sweet people. You are lucky to have had them.

Anonymous said...

ya know...I think your over thinking this...sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...but I'm not all that bright when it comes to things with seven or eight complex meanings


Janet said...

I am not blessed with absolute faith either and I truly think that is why the people with deep, unwavering faith who try to discuss their beliefs with me make me so very twitchy (breath issues, aside).

I think I'm afraid that they will ask me what I believe. And I will have to look them in the eye and say, "I really have no idea."

Julie Pippert said...

Perhaps we can and should subscribe to the idea that everything happens for a reason and fits in with a divine plan. That each bit of chaos is merely indicative of a fractal.



That STILL doesn't vindicate her behavior.


Awesome post. Awesome points to ponder. Awesome story.

Using My Words

Jenifer said...

Really? OK maybe it was a sign or a message. Maybe to make up for it they will send you a dream with the lotto numbers.

Kidding. WELL maybe not entirely. It is whatever you believe at the end of the day. I do like the "works in mysterious ways" part, it is kinda like a get of jail free card for the faithful.

we_be_toys said...

Poor Jess! I'll bet that woman in the thrift store never even gave it a second thought, before she moved on to the next sucker,...uh, soul to be saved (don't like THAT either!).
What a great picture of your grandparents, especially to be taken at your wedding, while you were talking to them - its like they can always be truly looking at you from that picture. Is it me, or is that just a little bit wonderful and magical, to have such a picture of them?

Lawyer Mama said...

K is very wise, isn't he?

I had so much to say about your post about the personal space woman that I decided I couldn't say it! But maybe some of the commenters are right on. She made you think, that's for sure. But, woah, lady. Eat a mint!

Gudrun said...

the picture of your grandparents is beautiful, thank you for sharing. And the question of faith is certainly one to continue pondering...

Cathy said...

They look like the sweetest people. I cannot imagine them inflicting a strident evangelical personal-boundaries-busting woman on you!

I'd consider your encounter with her as one of those totally random, unfortunate events.

Or, maybe, the plan was for someone to do HER a public service by encouraging the use of breath mints?

thordora said...

I can't stand door knockers or in public approachers. I don't want to believe in anything that encourages strangers to stand in my space and interupt my dinner. I mean really, if an omnipotent being really wanted to get a point across, there must be a better way.

But hey, I'm an atheist, and we leave a "proud supporters of satan" sign on the door so people will leave us alone, and I don't believe in "signs" or "fate" aside from interesting coincidences.

Your grandparents are in your heart. This lady is just nutty.

Day Dreamer said...

Your grand parents would have sent a tic tac.

I've yelled at pictures before.

Either we're both crazy, or both's up in the air!

Em said...'ve got some deep thoughts going on there! And the potential of mysterious messages. And sharing it all now has me thinking about that kind of stuff.

Beck said...

I think that doubt is what makes faith so powerful, that we have to work so hard to figure out what we believe and why.

Wendy said...

Did your grandparents have a sense of humor? Then maybe they did send her! I feel that there are no accidents in life. However, I'd prefer contact in dreams or electronic devices... :)

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by your grannie's beauty, the classy timeless beauty radiates from that picture!

mamatulip said...

Maybe you won't get the answer right now...perhaps it will come to you at a later point in your life, and this is just a precursor?

The Sour Kraut said...

hndomyMy sister lost her husband five weeks after their marriage. She has said that if it were possible to send a message, that she fells he absolutely would have made contact. According to her, he never did. She is a firm non-believer in spirits commincating with us live people. I, on the other hand....

My theory is that this woman was the catalist behind you giving thought to your grandparents, God, your beliefs, etc. Maybe it doesn't matter what the woman said to you, perhaps God just wanted to get you thinking about all this. Maybe it's the cathartic nature of these discussions that will help with your grief.

The Sour Kraut said...

hndomy? Is that a secret message?

No, just me attempting to enter the word verification in the wrong field.

Mimi said...

Hm. Dunno. Just read the first post, and I think it was very generous of you to let her tell you what she felt she needed to. But it would have bothered me, too, in the sense that a stranger was basically telling me I was living my life wrong, and that I needed saving, and that she was going to set me straight. It's arrogance, is what it is.

Jennifer said...

I'm a huge believer in "signs" in life. Sometimes I think I find them even when it might be a stretch. And yet I really doubt I would have taken that old woman as a "sign". I sometimes wish I were a "What can I learn from this" type when it came to religious things. But I guess, in cases like this, I'm more like a "That old lady was just looney" type.

NotSoSage said...

They are both so lovely. And I see you there...

carrie said...

Oh, I hear you.

I really do.

witchypoo said...

If nothing else, you learned to just walk away from the nutjob.
I know what my beliefs are, and I have absolutely no interest in someone trying to convince me why theirs are better.

Kelly Malloy said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who yells at pictures!

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Sometimes it isn't important that we know the answer, only that we are asking the question.

If your enemy is your best teacher, then I don't think it's means their words are your lesson to learn. I think the lesson would be more about your feelings than words from another person's mouth.

We're here to feel it all.

Liza's Eyeview said...

I am very sorry that that lady did that to you (yes, the bad breath lady...) I am a Christian and I'm sad to hear such incidents. Who knows, she could really be "deranged or has a mental illness".

That said, I commend you for being kind to her, even asking her if she's already done speaking to you (or something like that...)

Keep in seeking (if you are) maybe your Grandpa will send someone "better" nect time :)

katy said...

I still think that whatever voice she heard telling her to talk to you would have been quieted with a little medication. I could be wrong but I always think if God wanted us to talk to someone it would be in a calm, quiet, happy(minty) voice, which is why some Baptist preachers are hard for me to listen to. If someone yells at me I want to cry, not listen to their reasoning.

Kellan said...

And ... there ya go. That K is pretty darn smart. See ya.

painted maypole said...

ah.. well... if only i had more words of wisdom for you. Although K may have said them all.

And God does tend to use some weird people to send his messages, it's true. Moses, the stutterer. David, the adultering murderer. Crazy lady in the thrift store with bad breath? It could be possible. Or she could just be crazy.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Hmm. I've always thought the universe had a bigger plan that we aren't always privy to. Sometimes I think my mom is communicating with me through my cat. And my mom hated cats.

And, no, I'm not joking.

Jozet at Halushki said...

I call my self a struggling Catholic.

Some days, I call myself a recovering Catholic.

Both are true.

God has a weird sense of humor.

This is also true.

I have often said that God is more like a 10 year old boy than a million year old man.

This is also true.

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

You live a truly blessed life.

slouching mom said...

the comments you've received on this and the last post?

should all be published somewhere.

quite the diversity of perspectives!

slouching mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maddy said...

I've given up trying to interpret mysteries, I just keep swimming with the tide and hope I don't get drowned!

kellypea said...

I love the photo of your grandparents. But the lady in the thrift store was just that. She probably does it all day long for entertainment and chooses intelligent, thoughtful looking people because she knows she'll be on their minds afterwards all day long. Maybe it's her way to know that someone noticed her. Read The History of Love. It will make you smile.

Sarcasm Abounds said...

That is a wonderful photo.



nell said...

There were so many comments that said what I was thinking on that post that I didn't say anything, but now, I just want you to know that the photograph of your grandparent made me smile the moment I saw it. I don't know anything about messages, and I'm the wrong person to ask about faith, but it doesn't stop me from wondering.

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

I was actually thinking about you and that experience today. It just popped into my head when I was returning home from buying groceries.

As annoying (and obviously disgusting) as that woman was, I wondered what it was like to be inside her head.

What would you do if you were insanely compelled to say something like that to someone and felt like your head would fall off if you didn't?

I have felt that feeling and buried it before because I was afraid the person would think I was nuts, or that they'd be offended. Afterwards I was ashamed for being a wuss. Who knows what positive feelings may have flowed from me to them?

But, my breath isn't rank.

PS: I love that photo of your grandparents.

PPS: Maybe you got the message, afterall, which was to never stop questioning, searching, and helping others to do the same.

Jen said...

You know, I don't believe in God but I most especially don't believe in a God that would try to tell us stuff via a crazy, stinky person at the local thrift shop. I was once approached by a man at an airport who tried to tell me that barcodes would steal my soul. I think that was the same sort of thing. Sometimes a crazy is just a crazy person.

As for your grandparents sending you a message? They sound like they were lovely people and (in my professional theoligical opinion) I would not be at all suprised if they someday decided to send you a message. And I would bet that it would be a far more pleasant experience than you had at the Goodwill.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Perhaps if they hadn't used such an "interesting" medium, you wouldn't have listened!

Glad to hear you're still wrestling with it. Perhaps this is why Halitosis lady was used?

The Expatriate Chef said...

You look like your grandmother! A good thing! Lovely.

dawn224 said...

That's a beautiful photo.

You have some smart commenters. Good job on your community :)

(My word verification is "ictha" which reminds me of "icthus" which is the sign that the early Christians used to communicate w/ each other in secret... is my word verification mysterious?

Shannon said...

I'm sure someone else said this, but being too lazy to read the comments at the moment, I'll repeat it anyway. Jesus's representative with the halitosis probably picked you to approach because you looked kind and approachable and not like someone who would just tell her to go away and breath somewhere else. She's probably heard that a few times by now and started picking her converts more carefully. Also, I struggle with the whole faith thing, too, sometimes just knowing there is a God and other times just knowing there cannot be one.

Deb said...

LMAO. Men are so unsatisfying sometimes.