When my girls were young, I wanted to take them to a resort about four hours from home. We had been there before with people who owned a timeshare, so it was paid for, but I discovered that we could rent a cabin on the property and use the pools scattered throughout. Instead of being cramped in a tiny hotel room for days, this was a nice option to try for. And, near to it, there are various waterparks and activities that the girls loved to do.
The only obstacle standing in my way was my ex-husband, who told me he didn’t want to spend the money on it. We had plenty of money to do this, but he decided he didn’t want to go. In an attempt to throw me off, he said,
“If you somehow come up with the money and rent it, we can go.”
If this was a poker competition, his money was on himself, thinking I was an at-home mom homeschooling two young kids. In other words, I wasn’t smart enough to come up with the funds because I was not employed, and he held onto the purse strings.
I knew God wanted this for my kids, so I decided to have a garage sale.
The night before, while marking everything, he walked through the garage shaking his head like I was the dumbest person he had ever met. I had included another mom who also was interested in making the trip with us. We kept our items separate.
The sale netted us enough money to pay for the needed cabins and everything else the kids wanted to do. So much for being dumb.
The resort had listed all of its amenities on the website, including an indoor pool and hot tubs in case there was inclement weather.
When we got to the location, the “friend” who had done the sale with me walked into the registration building. When we got to the counter, we were informed that the indoor pool was being repaired. An electrical storm had somehow wiped out its functioning, so they had to close it.
“We are giving everyone passes to go to the Howard Johnson’s up the street so you can swim in their indoor pool. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
I didn’t think anything of it because many outdoor pools throughout the property were set around a golf course. The forecast predicted nice weather, so the need for an indoor pool was not heavy on my mind.
But, this woman who I was coming to find out was not the nicest, said,
“You advertised an indoor pool here. And, now you are telling me you don’t have one?”
“Yes. We are sorry, but we had a bad storm that left the electrical part of the pool unsafe, so we are in the process of fixing it. You and your family are welcome to use the Howard Johnson’s pool. This has the code on it so you can access that area.”
He pushed a piece of paper toward her with a number on it. She shoved it back at him.
I was filling out a form regarding our car with our license plate identification on it. I had just glanced out the window and was headed back to the desk when I saw this exchange begin.
“That is not good enough!” she snapped.
Her husband was out in the car, hiding, I assumed. Why I thought it was a good idea to bring her along, I do not know. My people-pleasing habits have taken a while to die.
It had gotten to the point where if I called their home, he would answer the phone with a whisper and go into a hall closet to speak to me because she didn’t want him talking and laughing with me on the phone as friends. Her control freak nature was rearing its ugly head more and more. She wanted me all to herself.
Often, he would speak to me and quickly say he would get her. There was no way he would want to deal with her Godzilla attitude at the front desk.
The employee swallowed down his fear and said,
“I don’t know how else to solve this problem for you.”
“I paid to have an indoor pool!”
The guy’s eyes caught mine, and I was hoping he didn’t think I was like her just because we walked in the door together.
“I know. And, we are really sorry about that…this is why we are sending people to Howard Johnson’s to try and accommodate everyone.”
“I am not a Howard Johnson’s type of person!” she said with a snarl. Ugly comes in many forms, not just in appearance but in attitude.
What? She had told me she had hardly ever been on vacation, so I was confused about where this entitled attitude was coming from.
Out of nowhere came another employee who was not as discreet as the man trying to help.
“He has explained to you our situation. Howard Johnson’s is it, or nothing.”
“That is not good enough!”
“What do you want me to do? Build you a pool, lady?” said the fresh helper.
My traveling companion then went to nuclear.
“I will contact the management here and let them know you did not go out of your way to compensate me for not having an indoor pool!”
With that, she swiped her papers off the counter and stormed out.
Both employees looked at me. Great.
“I apologize for her behavior,” I said. “I do not share her viewpoint.”
I could not say it enough. My two daughters had watched the entire exchange along with the lady’s two kids.
When I went to say goodnight to my two that night, I whispered,
“I am setting my alarm, and we are going to the indoor pool.” I did not say a word to anyone else.
The following day, while the two men went golfing, I quickly got my two in their suits, and we drove to the Howard Johnson’s. They had a great time swimming and using the hot tub. This was before cell phones, so no one could get a hold of us. And no one knew where we were.
I faced the firing squad when I returned.
“We were looking for you! Where did you go?” she asked the minute I stepped out of the car.
“Howard Johnson’s to swim,” I said without blinking. I wanted to see what reaction I would get.
“Oh,” she said. “Why didn’t you ask us to go?”
“Because you made it quite clear yesterday that you were not a Howard Johnson’s type person. You said that to everyone at the front desk.”
I did not hear one more tirade from this woman for the rest of the time we were there. I wasn’t as predictable as she thought I was.
Did she and I remain friends? No.
Her controlling nature became so severe that even my best people-pleasing nature couldn’t cut it anymore. The more I bowed down to her demands, the worse she became to the point where she was verbally abusive toward me. When I refused to continue being her friend, she tried to turn everyone against me. I preserved, and she is long gone in my rearview mirror.
I had convinced myself that God would not be happy with me if I let her go, so I kept myself attached to her. It got to the point, however, where I was either going to please her, lose myself or break free and be genuine. Sometimes you have to be not liked. And unpopular. It’s just the way it goes.
Proverbs 22:24-25 says, Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—don’t get infected. (Message)
That’s the risk you take. You can morph into what you consistently keep company with, so choose those who are God’s best.
As a side note, the ex-spouse was rewarded for not generously giving me the money for the vacation. Shortly after we got home, he cleaned his closet. He made a pile of clothes that no longer fit him as he had ‘grown’. This was intended for the garbage. The other, he was going to keep.
As I walked through the living room, he watched the garbage truck pick up and dump the contents of the can with all the sludge.
“I put all the clothes I wanted to keep in the wrong pile! He just dumped everything into the truck! I have no clothes to wear now except for what I have on! I have to go buy all new ones!”
I wanted to say..why don’t you have a garage sale? But I was too afraid back then to say anything like that. I just kept on walking. Silence is golden, and you let the situation speak for itself, like swimming at Howard Johnson’s on your own.
Galatians 6:7 spells it out pretty plainly:
Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. (Message)
There’s another verse in James 4:6 that says:
It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”(Message)
When you walk in humility and do your best to follow God’s way, it may not always be easy, but I have found that you won’t regret how you treat others. You can end each day knowing that you are doing it right, being led through a life that is spiritually super.