Eric Youngblood: When That Lady Screamed At Me

Monday, September 11, 2017 - by Eric Youngblood

I was sawing logs.

Sunk down into a navy couch patterned with unicorns which I was re-purposing as a bed in the balmy living room of my some of my buddies.

Silence nestled us each in our sleeping quarters.

But that calm was violently vandalized.

Out of the quiet came a howling protest accompanied by fierce banging on the front door.

“Turn it down! Turn. It. Down!” a hysterical woman shrieked like a screech owl.

My pulse tripled.

Terrified and unsure of where I was, I desperately tried to locate myself in these strange surroundings, where drowsiness had enveloped me just moments before.

The only constant in those distressed seconds that elapsed were the distraught lady’s screams,”Turn it down! Turn it down!”

She was insistent.

But there was no noise!

The Housecoat Clad Prophetess of Gloom

I peered through the window to witness a housecoat clad prophetess of gloom with staccato knuckle-rapping rhythm on the glass storm door.

Finally realizing where I was and feeling the angry accusations reverberating through the walls, I addressed her through the locked door, without opening it....(I had just graduated from college after all, and had the world ahead of me!)

I sought to reassure her (and save myself), “I don't know what you're talking about!”

“Turn the music down!” she clarified, as if there were a drowning taking place.

“But there isn't any music,” I replied in this bizarre conversation about disturbing noises in a completely silent room.

I waited with jumpy silence.

Suddenly, apparently satisfied, she concluded her tirade, “Funny, I don't hear it anymore.”

And she walked down the front stairs and out of my life, hopefully(!) forever.

But like many startling things, that strange episode is now featured among the many curios of memory in my mind.

And it was instructive for several reasons.

“Everyone is in the middle of a great war...”

For one, that mysterious and confused woman was reacting to something that was apparently compellingly real in her mind, but no place else.

That being so, it was a coronary infarction inducing episode to remind me that there are subterranean matters going on in others at any given point about which I have no idea.

“Be kind,” said one church father, in what has become a favorite pastoral adage, “for everyone you meet is in the middle of a great war.”

There’s no telling what the wars in the minds of my friends, congregants, or even insurance agent might be adding to my actions or words to them. But I can at least be merciful and anticipatory about it. As I hope they’ll be with mine.

Listen with Self-Suspicion

Mrs. Scream also unwittingly instructed me on how simple it is to read into situations what absolutely isn’t there.

So perhaps, we ought to listen to each other with a modicum of self-suspicion. And maybe throw in a hefty injection of gracious charity in our appraisals of others.

We are, all after all, subject to what I’ve heard Andy Stanley and Patrick Lencioni call the “Fundamental Attribution Error.”

That wonky self-preferencing feature in me which assumes that my failures are always due to extenuating circumstances while yours and everybody else’s are the result of collossal failures of consideration, character, and thought.

If I’m late to a meeting, it is clearly because I had to help a pregnant woman deliver her baby on the way while building a house for a homeless man.

If you are late, it is solely due to your ridiculous self-absorption and lack of care for anyone but yourself.

My faults are due to environmental factors. Yours are because you are a scoundrel.

If suspicion must be present, I need to turn it on myself first and permit the same merciful allowances for others that I so effortlessly grant to myself.

Being Mindful of Misinterpretation

The confused woman also unwittingly alerted me in her vast misinterpretation of the situation that I should be mindful of the possibilities of my own misinterpretations when others let me down, injure me, or fail to do what they said they would.

Perhaps what is stunningly clear to me would be muddied, at least a touch, if I heard the whole story?

Maybe I am missing something even though it isn’t clear to me what it is.

The mere suggestion of a possibility is enough to slow me down to listen with the requisite attentiveness and evaluate with the sort of grace I’d like to encounter.

Refusing Defensiveness

My wild-haired middle of the night instructor also introduced me more keenly to my primal desire for self-defense.

She was disturbingly and wrongly convinced that we were destroying the shalom of the apartment complex when in fact we were being model citizens...even though we were only 22 years old!

But I would never be able to clear things up with her. Or give her another impression.

In fact, she may presently be writing about the night that a weird young man on a unicorn couch disturbed her deep sleep with raucous music and then denied it after he had sneakily turned it off!

I will never know.

But it doesn’t matter.

“My salvation,” says the Psalmist, and my honor depend on the Lord.”

There is a Mormon Tabernacle Choir of unified voices in the Scriptures and among the perceptive and wise that urge us to avoid defending ourselves.

Because of course, most of us want to do that exclusively.

We can’t abide being misunderstood. It is intolerable to have another think the wrong thing about us.

Practicing Non-Defense=Trust

But if and when I practice my belief, as our Savior did, that I have a Defender, Protector, Guardian and Rectifier for all the unjust things that need to be settled, I can refrain both from relational self-defense and from attempting self-promotional brand enhancement projects on others.

Instead of retaliating when I am insulted, mistakenly interpreted, or injured, I can respond to what St. Peter insists is “our calling” by, even when being slighted for doing good, simply entrusting myself to God who “judges justly.”

I can let my future and the way that I am viewed be in the hands of Him who truly does know all and interprets correctly.

Jesus, we’re told, carried out just this sort of mission, “led” as he was “like a lamb to the slaughter” but refusing to sling back verbal grenades when such accusatory weaponry was lobbed at him.

And of course, refusing to defend yourself, and abandoning a strategy of suspicious self-protection is the ONLY way to have meaningful relationships with anyone.

Controlling YOUR perceptions

If I am busy defending myself to you, I am certainly not loving you nor entrusting myself to you. I’m trying to control your perceptions.

And if I spend all my emotional capital making sure folks only see the Instagrammed shiny-filter version of me, then I will never let anyone near for fear of being found out.

Marilynne Robinson’s, Pastor John Ames, understood these matters with intimate experience. He instructs his young son in Gilead:

“I would advise you against defensiveness on principle. It precludes the best eventualities along with the worst. At the most basic level it expresses a lack of faith....And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer.”

The screech owl woman, and the frightened young man she accused stand at every moment in need of a rescue.

Oh that we’ll both have the courage to stand “against defensiveness” and surrender to that Rescue of Him who’ll eventually renovate all the true and imagined vandalizations to shalom that have awakened, startled, or disturbed us.

---

Contact Eric Youngblood, pastor of Rock Creek Fellowship on Lookout Mountain, at eric@rockcreekfellowship.org


Keith Baptist Church Hosts Fall Revival Nov. 14-18

"Ramp It Up" Is Sermon Topic At Metro Tab Church On Sunday

Mitch McClure To Speak On "Go: We've Got To Get Out Of This Place" On Sunday


Keith Baptist Church will have its Fall Revival services Nov. 15-18. Jimmy McClure, pastor of North Georgia Baptist Church, will be preaching and Sacrifice will be singing during the services. ... (click for more)

Dr. Steve Ball, senior pastor, will discuss the topic "Ramp It Up" at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The Music Ministry is led by Rob Alley and Metro Praise. The Children's ... (click for more)

Middle Valley Church of God at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announced that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Go: We've Got To Get Out Of This Place" in the 10:30 a.m. service on ... (click for more)


Church

Keith Baptist Church Hosts Fall Revival Nov. 14-18

Keith Baptist Church will have its Fall Revival services Nov. 15-18. Jimmy McClure, pastor of North Georgia Baptist Church, will be preaching and Sacrifice will be singing during the services. The revival begins Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. and ends with the 11 a.m. service on Nov. 18. The church is at 1573 Keith Road in Ringgold/Tunnel Hill. For more information, call 706 450-0963 ... (click for more)

"Ramp It Up" Is Sermon Topic At Metro Tab Church On Sunday

Dr. Steve Ball, senior pastor, will discuss the topic "Ramp It Up" at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The Music Ministry is led by Rob Alley and Metro Praise. The Children's Pastor Olivia Aziz and staff will host kids in the Metro Kidz Church. The church is at 2101 West Shepherd Road. You can also view live on Facebook or at www.metrotab.net . (click for more)

Breaking News

WWTA Releases Timetable That Would Have Ooltewah Sewage Treatment Plant In Operation By 2025; Public Meetings Set At Central High

The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority has released a timetable that would have a new sewage treatment plant in Ooltewah in operation by 2025. A request for a site at Mahan Gap Road goes before the Planning Commission at Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. It goes to the County Commission Zoning Committee on Dec. 12 and the full commission on Dec. 19. The WWTA also ... (click for more)

Downtown Post Office Finally Getting Handicap Ramp

Chattanooga's Downtown Post Office, after some lawsuits and numerous complaints over the years, is finally getting a handicap ramp. Federal Judge Sandy Mattice said the complaints had increased in recent months and the General Services Administration agreed to fund the project at the historic building on Georgia Avenue. The judge said, "It's a beautiful building, but it's ... (click for more)

Opinion

Too Many Questions

First it was about 2,000, then we were told it’s up to 4,000. We have no way of knowing who’s coming or what their purpose is. NBC and CNN assure us they are seeking sanctuary but how can we know? Neither Honduras or our subjective media in America have been honest with us in the past. So, how do we know why that many people are marching across Central America? Then this morning ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Answer For Amy

Amy Schumer, whose cousin is Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, is said to be a very successful comedian and an activist of note. You may remember her most recent appearance was when she was arrested at the U.S. Capitol three weeks ago. She was part of a disgraceful mob who unlawfully protested the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the hunch is Amy wanted to get arrested so she ... (click for more)