Many years ago when our boys were very little, about three, six, and nine years old, I was pulling into a Walmart parking lot to do some shopping. We lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina as my husband was in the Marine Corps and we were stationed at Camp LeJeune. On this particular day, as I turned into our parking spot,  an incident occurred that has gone down in the family record books as “ Don’t Litter In Front of Mom”

his incident is a classic example of behaving on impulse and I do not recommend that anyone follow my example. Just as I was about to turn left into our parking space, I noticed three young Marines sitting in the car in the space to the right of the space that I was driving into. They rolled down their window just as I was turning and threw out three huge handfuls of Empty McDonalds trash…bags, cartons, used up napkins, empty cups ..the works. All of this trash landed directly in the space that I was entering forcing me to jam on the brakes. They were oblivious to the fact that I was turning into that exact spot as they they were blaring their music while talking loudly. Once they dumped their lunch garbage out onto the parking lot, they laughed wildly and squealed their tires as they sped away out of the parking lot. our three young sons gasped and our nine year old just looked out of our car window at the mounds of litter and exclaimed “I can’t believe that Marines would do that!”  I silently agreed with him as I sat there in the driver’s seat stunned at the scene before me and at that very second, I made a split decision. I jumped out of the car, collected up every bit of their discarded trash in both arms and trust me, it was a bundle full, jumped back into my car, banged it in reverse and took off after these guys. By the time I made this move, I spotted their car which was already out of the lot and on the main highway sailing along. Suffice it to say that I had to fly to catch up with them, but catch up with them I did. My oldest son who is now thirty still remembers me on their tail, blaring my horn and motioning for them to pull off to the shoulder of the road. They would not pull off initially and so I continued to lay on my horn and point to the side of the highway indicating to them that they needed to pull over.

Finally after about a minute or so, they complied and they drove and parked to the right with me right behind them. I put the car in park, told our three young and mortified sons to sit tight, that I would be right back. I gathered up all of their trash in both arms, walked up to the driver’s side window and when he rolled it down, I reached in and dumped it onto the driver’s lap and said “ You guys are Marines and I have three little boys in my car who just saw you throw all of your trash onto the ground of America, the country that you defend, and those three little boys were shocked to see you do that. There was a trash can right in front of the store, why couldn’t you have just driven around and put trash where it belongs instead of carelessly throwing out your car window for someone else to have to clean it up? You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.” Then I walked away and went back into my car. As I was headed back towards my car, I heard the driver mumble “Sorry maam”. As I pulled away from their car our sons were just quiet and still and one of them said “Mom, you’re crazy!”  You know what? He was wrong…I wasn’t crazy, but I sure was foolish.

I tell this story not because I am proud of it, in fact quite to the contrary. I reacted impulsively instead of responding thoughtfully. Looking back, I was driven by my indignation at the thoughtless and inexcusable act of those young Marines yet I handled my frustration in such a wrong manner. I jeopardized the safety of my own kids by acting out of emotion. How many times have we all been guilty of that? I think we can all raise our hands, some higher than others.


God’s Word has much to say about being slow to become angry and how to be wise and prudent in our thoughts and actions. I certainly did not follow His instructions on that day and thankfully no one was hurt because of my hastiness however we are not all guaranteed a good outcome each time we act so impulsively.


The next time you are confronted with a situation that tempts you to do something in a spontaneous fashion without thinking it through first, take a deep breath, count to ten, say a prayer asking God to give you the sense to pause and collect yourself first. If you do, you will look back with satisfaction and not embarrassment as to how you behaved.


It simply is worth taking the time to think and pray before we act.

It is a reminder that can help all of us!

                                                                  David Starr Jordan

 Scripture Verse:  Proverbs: 14:17  -   
                                 HE THAT IS SOON ANGRY DEALETH FOOLISHLY