The Guilt Trip
One summer about ten years ago, we were in Ohio for one of our mini-furloughs. A woman from a supporting church offered my husband and me a night on the town. God had laid it on her heart to bless us with a formal dinner at a place we would never dream of going on our own nickel.
This friend made all the arrangements with the maitre d’ of a ritzy French restaurant right on Lake Erie in Vermillion. Then, to make sure I had something appropriate to wear, she bought and delivered to the house where we were staying a lovely but not too slinky black evening gown that was almost my size. (Though I was flattered by the size she thought I wore, I did have to exchange it for a better fit.)
That particular dress was not available in my size, so I exchanged it for a more practical but equally elegant slacks outfit. To complete the swanky ‘look’ my friend loaned me some gold earrings with a matching necklace and a tiny clutch purse like one I had borrowed from my mom for the senior prom. To top it off, she let us take her brand new convertible something-or-other sports car.
The evening started off with many laughs as we played dress-up for our big date. We drove to Vermillion with the top down, and we even smooched a little at the red lights. It was great to finally sit closer than opposite sides of a 15-passenger van, and to not have seven children groaning, “Get a room!” from the back seats. It was just perfect. What a blessing and a provision from God!
Then suddenly a panicky thought popped into my head. What if we see someone we know? What would people think to see these ‘global workers’ at such a hoity-toity place, driving such a cool car, dressed like we were rich and famous? Even worse, what if we ran into one of our supporters who are sacrificing monthly to help our ministry financially? What if…?
I had just voiced these concerns to my husband, who naturally made some typical male retort like “Don’t be ridiculous. Why are you so paranoid?” We had just parked the car and put the top back up on the convertible when I got the distinct impression we were being watched. My husband was attempting to escort me from the car, but I was protesting, “No, dear, I am serious. Those people in that car are staring at us.”
“No they are not.”
“Yes, they are!”
And so on. You get the idea. Suffice it to say this one time I was right. As soon as we started walking toward the restaurant, this couple rolled down their window, still gawking, and asked, “Aren’t you the Lokers?”
I could have died! I felt like we were frauds of Jim-and-Tammy-Faye-Baker magnitude. What could I say? I am embarrassed to tell you that I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “This isn’t my purse! That’s not our car!” I did not even know these people. I think I tried desperately to give some lame excuse for our choice of restaurant.
Finally I stammered, “How did you recognize us?”
Then came the kicker: “Are you kidding? We have your photo on our refrigerator, and we pray for you every day.”
Gulp. That was one of many times my pride took a blow. It has been a hard lesson to learn, but God can take care of my reputation—and His. This was clearly one of those scenes where I looked guilty, felt guilty, and sounded guilty, but I had done nothing wrong except maybe care a little too much about ‘what people think.’