While it proved difficult to come to terms with the proper meaning of “Meekness”, it may prove even tougher to make it a part of our lives. At least for mine anyway.
This past weekend Cheryl, Tyler and myself, went to go see our youngest son, Noah, who is stationed with the Air Force at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, GA. We had not seen him since we took him there last New Year’s Eve. So we were more than ready to see him and he was more than ready to have his car, a 1981 Chevrolet El Camino, which he wanted us to bring to him.
As we planned for the trip, it was an easy decision to tow his car the 350 or so miles rather than drive a car that old that far. We felt like that Cheryl’s Ford Edge was capable of this task as it had pulled many a trailer load of furniture, rocks and other stuff over the years. All I had to do was rent a tow dolly for the El Camino and we would be set.
My first thought was to call U-Haul for a rate and convenient location. I was able to find both just a few miles from the house in Cleveland, AL. I picked up the tow dolly on Friday afternoon and the people at the location were very friendly and helpful. Things were off to a great start. I was able to get everything hooked up and ready to go for Saturday morning. I was even able to get some advice about pulling the El Camino from a friend who is a local mechanic. So we were all set to head out first thing the next morning.
So we set out at 530AM headed to Valdosta for what for me would turn out to be a 7+ hour, death grip, white knuckle drive. I was as nervous as I could be, more nervous than a cat at the Westminster Dog Show. I didn’t want anything to happen to either vehicle, so every creak and groan caused me to wonder if something was happening. The wind was whipping harder than I cared for and I was constantly looking at all of the mirrors hoping that the El Camino was still back there and that I wouldn’t see it pass me as we drove down the road. Adding to my stress level were the typical Highway 280 drivers.
But with a few periodic stops to make sure everything was in its proper place and to unclench my hands from the 10 & 2 position, we made it to Valdosta safely. As I got out of the car to hug Noah, I don’t know if I teared up because of seeing him or because the drive was over, or both. But we were thankful to be there and he was more than happy to have his car. We got it unloaded and everything ran fine. There was a big sigh of relief, the hard part was over.
At least that’s what I thought.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 (NIV).
In our euphoria of seeing Noah and getting there intact, we decided to go drop off the tow dolly and get that behind us. According to “The Google”, there was a U-Haul location just a few miles down the road from the base. So we set out. As we headed to the nearest location, we saw another U-Haul location not listed but it was clearly closed. We should have seen this as an omen.
Just a few miles down the road we arrived at the location. There were a number of other U-Haul vehicles on the lot and I just knew it would be a matter of moments before we would be rid of the tow dolly. As I got out of the vehicle and approached the door I noticed that its hours for Saturday were listed as 9 to 2. It was 210. But wait. There was a man in the parking lot moving a car, surely he would be able to help me. No chance. He just worked at the business behind the office and had nothing, and I quote, “to do with that stuff.”
At this point I could feel a small burning sensation in my brain but I had just learned about meekness, so everything was fine. As I got back into our vehicle and advised everyone that they closed 10 minutes ago and that the guy in the lot wasn’t going to be a help, I went back to “The Google” and started looking for other locations. And other locations popped up. I began to call the locations near to us. Closed. Closed. Wait, an answer, “no, we aren’t a U-Haul location”; but you are listed as one, “well let me ask, but I don’t think we are a location.” So on to the next. Closed.
Then another answer, this is going to be it I tell myself. The guy that answered said something that sounded like, “jibby jibby jibby” then hung up. I thought that maybe it was a bad connection, so I tried the number again. He answered again and said what I heard as, “jibby jibby jibby,” but without hesitation or fear I asked, “Are you a U-Haul drop off location?” He said “Yes.” I asked are you open? He said “Yes.” Great we are on our way. At this point you might think I’m an optimist or that desperate men do desperate things but I am probably more like the Chevy Chase character, Clark Griswold, from the Vacation movies.
After about 10 minutes we arrive at the address. No vehicles but a small U-Haul sign in front of this convenience store. Undaunted, I walk in and let the man behind the counter know that I had a drop off. He was clearly from a different part of the world, let’s just say India or Pakistan for example. He looked out front and said, “Truck?” No I replied, I have a tow dolly to drop off. He replied, “No tow dolly, only truck.” Of which he had none on his lot by the way. The logical side of me kicked in and I began to state that he was an official location because he had an official sign out front and on the building. I have an official piece of equipment and I am ready to officially give it back to you. He would have none of it and the burning in my brain got only more intense.
Now at this point let me state that I thought I was doing well. I had learned about meekness and that Christ is the perfect example of meekness. At this point I had yet to throw anything or anyone, I had not used a word that would cause my Mom to put a bar of Dial soap in my mouth nor had I “wigged out” waving my arms like a wild man. The new, meeker me; it sure did feel good.
As I got back into our vehicle, I let everyone know that this place would not be accepting our drop off and that we need to look for another location. At this point, Cheryl, Tyler and Noah all went to “The Google” looking for the next or at least an open U-Haul location. Having looked at my own phone, I noticed more locations on this same road and began to drive. Just like Clark was determined to get to Wally World in the original Vacation movie, I was determined to drop off this tow dolly.
As my family searched probably every location in the Southeast US, Noah was able to get a location on the phone that was about 15 miles away. A little farther than I wanted to go but I would not be defeated. At this point, I was willing to drive anywhere to get rid of this tow dolly. It was starting to get warm so I turned up the air conditioning. As we drove only a mile or so, we come upon “Bigfoots Truck Plaza” and Mr. Bigfoot has U-Haul vehicles and tow dollies on his lot! Hallelujah! He even has a sign out front. We had found the Promised Land or at least a drop off location and it was a lot closer.
As I drove by at a slightly higher than permitted speed, my superior driving skills, see above towing of El Camino, allowed me to navigate through the lots of other businesses to get to Bigfoots. As I got out of the vehicle and headed into the Plaza, I noticed a man sleeping in a van next to the building. Oh well, just another tired traveler looking for a little shut eye. Or so I thought.
As I entered the store, I waited patiently as the lady in front of me purchased a lottery ticket, some smokes, an adult beverage, $10 worth of gas and some pork skins, clearly a Gentile. Once it was my turn I informed the employee, who seemed to be from the same part of the world as the last guy, that I had a U-Haul tow dolly to turn in. He said, “U-Haul.” I said yes. He just shook his head. I ask him if he needed my paperwork while I handed it to him. He took it and replied, “Paperwork.” I ask him if I needed to sign anything. He said, “Me sign.” At this point I knew I was not only in trouble but talking to someone who could only mimic back what I was saying. Yet he could make change?
He then walked out of the store with the paperwork I had handed him and said, “He do it” while pointing at the van. I looked at the van then back at him, then back to the van and finally to him again. He gave me back the paperwork and went back inside. I then proceeded to the van and lightly tapped on the window as the man slept inside. It took him literally 60 seconds to respond, as I considered tapping the window again I considered he could be dead. But he finally rolled down the window, clearly agitated I had awaken him from his sleep and ask what I needed.
I told him the same thing I had told what seemed like countless people. He waived and said put it over there with the other ones. I asked if he was going to do something showing that I turned it in and he muttered something about doing it on his cell phone. I had to decide if I wanted to do that or continue on this merry journey of finding another location. I would make an executive decision.
We dropped the tow dolly with the others and I called the national number for U-Haul. Thankfully, I was able to speak to two women I could clearly understand and told them of my plight. I was able to get them to document that it had been dropped off and we were on our merry way.
As we were able to pull away with nothing in tow, I asked my family how they thought I had handled the situation. I had been clearly impressed with the new, meeker me and wanted their input. You would have thought I had asked them to pray in front of Billy Graham himself. No one would make eye contact with me, directly or in the rear view mirror and at one point I even heard Tyler laugh. I was hurt. Hadn’t they noticed how well I handled the situation? I used no salty language, I didn’t impale anyone with anything and we were all in one piece with no visible flames in site. How could they not notice?
It seems that becoming meek takes more than what I think is going on in my head. Even though I didn’t do any of those things, regrettably that I have done in the past, body language and verbal tone are something I need to work on. I would ask my Bride the following day as we headed home, “Don’t you think I handled the situation better yesterday?” She told me, lovingly of course, that compared to my worst behavior it was an improvement but I still had a long way to go. The truth hurts.
While I may have improved on my behavior compared to me it was far from the example I should compare myself to, Jesus. I realized that I still have a long way to go. Being more humble, meek, etc. is not a simple, easy or quick process. It is a constant struggle against the “Me Monster” inside who wants to run the show when I should be taking on the yolk of Jesus and seeking His way and comparing my behavior to His standard. In some areas we may change quickly, in others it may take time. Press on and seek Him.
Run to the Cross!