When It Can’t Be About Us

When It Can’t Be About Us

Today’s guest blogger, Joe McHugh, is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places, will be published by Franciscan Media in October 2013. He can be contacted at jjmch1300@gmail.com.

Macy’s had a huge mid-summer sale last weekend, and I found myself prowling for bargains late Saturday night. I wound up buying only a sparkly gray tie for $4.99. In front of me in line to pay was a clearly agitated, annoyed, and annoying woman who was there with her beautiful, happy, young daughter who had a bright red rose on her dress. I’m guessing the girl was about three years old.

An ugly incident

The woman kept grabbing the child, telling her in no uncertain terms to shut up and behave. “Stand here,” she barked, “and don’t you dare move.” That’s when the girl started dancing around, and the mother grabbed her, sat her on the counter, and scolded her by saying: “Mama hasn’t eaten and is tired, and this is how you treat me?”

When the little girl squirmed, she knocked a bottle of cologne off the counter, and the mother jerked her to the floor and started smacking her. That was all I could take.

“Please don’t do that,” I said. “She’s just a child; she doesn’t understand.”

“But what if she had broken the bottle of cologne,” the mother shot back.

“Then we’d clean it up,” I suggested.

She paid her bill and the two quickly disappeared.

The lesson

We’d like to think that everybody eventually wises up and realizes the world doesn’t revolve around us and our needs. Sadly, some of us never seem to learn that life lesson, instead thinking of others as narcissistic extensions of themselves.

It’s just as sad when we realize the image some people have of God—that God exists to give them what they want. Certainly not what they need.


Image: freedigitalphotos.net/koratmember


About the Author

  • Bob Pierson

    What’s really sad is that the little girl will probably grow up believing that her purpose in life is to keep her mother happy and she will never succeed in doing it perfectly. As a result, she could end up believing that she is somehow not worthy of real love and healthy attention, always settling for relationships in which she’s never seen as “good enough.”