We entered the florist’s, that tiny shop crammed with shelves of pink and blue teddy bears awaiting newborn babies, bobbing helium balloons and racks of greetings cards, potted plants with hot house flowers, hanging bamboo wind chimes… and on the floor, numerous silver metal buckets, overflowing with  the most exquisite flowers with a thousand different scents.
I was at the counter, digging about in my bag for some money when I heard:
“Well, it’s your flower now. It’s no good to me.  I can’t sell a broken flower. You may as well have it.”
I turned my head to see a bright yellow lily being thrust at Gemma-Rose. She took the bloom and stood looking at the floor, her head bowed.
“Children ought to be taught not to touch!” the shop assistant said, looking directly at me.
“I’m sorry,” I apologised. “I guess the flowers are just so beautiful, she couldn’t resist. I’ll pay for the whole lily stalk and the broken flower.”
“No, that’s OK,” the woman said gruffly. “But I can’t have everyone coming in here and touching. Even adults do it. They damage the flowers. They’re delicate. And then I can’t sell them.”
I hastily agreed, handed over my money for the greetings card I’d selected, and decided it would prudent to get away from the annoyed woman as fast as we could.
“You know you shouldn’t touch,” I reminded Gemma-Rose as we headed out the door, and then looking at her subdued face, I added, “Was it just so beautiful you had to feel it?”
Gemma-Rose’s little face bobbed up and down and tears welled in her eyes. By the time we reached the van, a river was streaming down her face. She was sobbing; her little heart was breaking. My heart cracked and felt broken too. I bent down and enclosed Gemma-Rose’s heaving shoulders in a big hug. I wanted to put things right for her, to get rid of all those awful feelings that were consuming her, to see her eyes light up again. The sun had disappeared from her day. And mine.
“If I went back to the shop and bought that damaged lily stalk for you, would that make you feel better?”
Gemma-Rose nodded and I took her hand and lead her back up the road and into the florist shop.
The shop assistant: “You’re back?”
“Yes, we want to buy the flower my daughter broke. She broke it so I should buy it and then everything will be put right.”
The woman reached into the bucket of lily stalks searching for one with a ragged section where a flower was missing. After a few seconds, I could see she couldn’t decide which stalk was the damaged one.
“This might be the one,” she said finally.
“I’ll have another stalk too, please… There! They will look pretty on the table, won’t they, Gemma-Rose?”
She nodded happily as I pulled out my purse. Money was handed over and then I said, “All fixed.”
“The flowers are delicate you know,” persisted the shop assistant. “Children have to be taught…”
I interrupted, “But it’s all fixed now! The flower now belongs to us.” And we left the shop, with Gemma-Rose carrying her bouquet, knowing we wouldn’t be back.
I can understand the woman’s frustration. She is a business woman. The flowers are her livelihood. But I also know mistakes sometimes happen. It’s how we handle other people’s mistakes that is important.
I think about mistakes in general, how you can’t go back and unmake them.  But there is a choice in how they are dealt with. We can make someone suffer when they have made a mistake. We can make them feel really miserable. We can make them pay. Or we can turn that mistake into something good, an unexpected gift.
Just imagine;
“Oh the flower is broken.  I bet you didn’t realise it was so delicate. Never mind. Would you like me to show you the flowers and then you won’t have to worry about damaging them? You can have the lily. Isn’t it beautiful? Take it home and enjoy it!”
And Gemma-Rose’s eyes would have lit up with pleasure. The broken flower would have been transformed from a mistake into an unexpected gift, making a little girl happy.
And she would have known not to touch the flowers next time we went into the florist shop.

I am thinking... I remember when Andy threw his red T shirt into the washing machine with all the white clothes including my new skirt... and how someone else knocked my favourite picture to the floor shattering the glass... and what about the time my precious Aberystwyth mug from my university days ended up on the floor in a hundred pieces?

I turn red thinking of how I reacted. And suddenly I am no longer annoyed with the florist. I am even feeling guilty about telling you her story. I could easily have found an example of my own.
I think about my own mistakes, mistakes I'm always making. Does God shout, “How many times have I told you…? How could you...? When are you going to learn…?” No. God forgives me and uses my mistakes for good. He turns my damaged flowers into beautiful, unimaginable gifts.
And why can’t I do the same for someone else?

Post a Comment

  1. Beautiful, Sue. Don't we all need to be reminded of this?!

  2. Hi Stephanie. I'm so pleased to see you here! Thank you for your comment. It was funny: when I started writing this story I felt so annoyed with the florist, then I ended up feeling so guilty myself! I really learnt something just by writing everything down. That's what I love about writing. It's a wonderful way of working through things. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Sue, that happens to me all the time -- I realize something I was angry or upset about could actually apply to ME -- and so when you finished it that way, it made your beautiful story even more beautiful.

  4. Some shopkeepers never learn that their attitude would drive customers away for ever.

    That florist was in a bad mood because she probably had just sat on a cactus plant. You should have checked !!!

    Yes we all make mistakes ... I did the red item in the washing machine magic trick. It was not appreciated. If a magician had turned everything pink on the stage he would have been applauded. As for me ... Noooo ... It was not appreciated at all.

    May God bless our little mistakes and turn them to good.

  5. Willa, thank you for stopping and commenting. And for telling me that this sometimes happens to you too. It is so good to share! And encouraging. God bless!

  6. Hi Victor. I guess in the florist's case she wasn't being very professional. She could have all the undamaged flowers in the world and not make a living if she has driven the customers away.

    I am smiling over the cactus!

    Funny how no one wants pink streaky clothing when it's so much more interesting than plain white.
    Yes, God bless our mistakes. And may He bless you too, Victor.

  7. This could happen to any little person. I loved the way you stopped any more comments from the shop keeper, protecting your sweet little darling, who only wanted to smell the flowers afterall.

  8. Leanne, yes sometimes our little ones have no intention of causing damage. They just want to look and feel and smell the flowers... The world is not always children friendly. It's sad. God bless!

  9. Maybe, the florist was having a bad day (or week or month). I remember being very sensitive after my last miscarriage and thinking that people would be more sensitive in return if they knew how bad I was feeling. Now, if a driver is rude on the road, etc, I try to think that, maybe, they're going through a bad time (usually, after I get indignant first! Hmmm!:D)

  10. You are quite right, Vicky. We should always give others the benefit of the doubt and find excuses for them. I often forget this and concentrate on my own feelings. Thanks for stopping by. God bless!

  11. Ouch Sue, that sales lady could have dealt with this situation with compassion and forgiveness. I'm so pleased you went back in to set it right. That took courage and perhaps seeds of kindness were planted in the sales lady?

    We all can think back on situations where we didn't behave as God would have wanted... and hopefully we can learn from them and do better next time.

    God Bless!

  12. Noreen, you are back! I hope all your Blogger problems have been sorted out. I will have to hop over to your blog and see if I can leave a comment. It can be frustrating not being able to join in the conversation!

    This has been so interesting: should the sales assistant have reacted better? Should Gemma-Rose not have touched? Should I have been less critcal and more understanding? Thank you for adding to the discussion and sharing!

  13. Oh, Sue, what a beautiful, thought provoking post! I'm so sorry that happened to your sweet daughter. You are right. The way that God deals with our mistakes is so tender and loving. If we could only emulate that.

  14. Yuor followers are back! Your comment box is the kind that I am able to make comments. I'll have to see if I can on other ones. Have a great day!

  15. This is very strange, I commented and scrolled up to make sure it went through with the blog approval comment and... the little yellow box that states the blog approval comment is written in another language.

    My goodness... I'm assuming my comment is in English.

  16. Hi Dana, thank you! Doesn't a mother's heart ache when one of her children is hurt? I had to put things right for Gemma-Rose.

    I make a lot of mistakes and I've only just started to see exactly how tender God is in dealing with them. It made me think more about how I handle other people's mistakes. Not too well at times!

  17. Hi Noreen,
    I changed the comments setting to a drop down box instead of the embedded kind. This enabled me to comment on my own blog. And hear from you! I am still having problems commenting on some blogs. Sometimes I can comment as Anonymous or with the name/URL option, but not all blogs have that. And yes! Your comment is in English. I can read it. What is going on with Blogger?

    I've been reading your latest posts but couldn't comment. So frustrating!! Hope all's back to normal soon. God bless you, Noreen!

  18. Great post I like ho wyou handled things.
    I think we get upset with others mistakes because we get upset with our own mistakes. We need to learn to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion when we screw up. Then it will be easier to treat others that way as well.
    God bless!

  19. Hi Colleen. I think perhaps years ago, I might have been embarrassed by my child's behaviour and have added to her distress by a good telling off for touching! I would have been more concerned about my image as a mother, than the feelings of my child.

    "I think we get upset with others mistakes because we get upset with our own mistakes." - that is such a good point I'd never considered. I am going to ponder that. Thank you!

  20. Well that made me cry...especially your last paragraph of dialogue! So, so true!!!!!!

  21. Amy, thank you for stopping by to comment.

    "Well that made me cry" - that is a great compliment. I'm glad you shared my story. God bless!


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