Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem…

I hadn't done my grocery shopping for a while—the holidays, kids home on vacation . . . snow. So I finally dragged myself down to the dreaded store.

It's one of those warehouse type stores where the aisles are long and the prices are cheaper—and you bag your own groceries.

Besides intensely disliking grocery shopping, I hate waiting in the checkout line behind all the carts stacked with a month's worth of food.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find a short line and raced for it, cutting off carts left and right to slide behind the lone cart loading a small amount of packages onto the conveyor belt.

Smugly satisfied at my luck, I realized I'd forgotten an item. Fortunately, I was wearing my running shoes. I dashed an aisle away and searched for what I needed. Got distracted by an assortment of tempting goodies and then dashed back. And skidded to a stop.

My cart had been pushed out of line.

It lay up against the rack holding the batteries and tabloid magazines. I tried not to glare at the woman who had taken my spot and was unloading her engorged cart. I considered saying, "You moved my cart?" in a bit of an outraged tone.

But my better self spoke up and said to myself, "It's a scheme of the enemy. Forgive her and let it go." So I did and I determined to not even grumble about it to my husband when I got home. It felt good to use some self-control and let a bit of Jesus rub off on me.

I even glanced over at the woman in the line next to me and smiled. She pointed to my cart and said in an apologetic voice, "I moved your cart. Another lady said it had been sitting there a long time."

I think I kept my eyebrows from climbing and very kindly gave her a grin and told her it was fine. I even leaned closer and whispered, "I'm glad you told me because I thought it was her," and motioned to the lady ahead of me. Tracking with me, she nodded conspiratorially and said, "The meanie."

She was in a much shorter line (the lady in front of me still hadn't found the bottom of her cart), so I scooted over behind the confessor. She gave a guilty look and said, "I noticed your butter and realize I forgot to get some." I told her to go for it and she took off.

Butter was at the opposite end of the store, so I unloaded her small cart on the belt and started into mine just as she came huffing back to our checker. She gushed her thanks and when she finished paying asked if I needed any help.

My small choice to forgive and not walk in my flesh changed everything about the next ten minutes and made a connection. There's no way she would have confessed if she'd heard me lay into the woman I thought was the culprit. I wouldn't have if the situation were reversed. But then I can be a little cowardly when it comes to possible rejection, even from a stranger.

I'm going to try to keep my ears tuned to that small voice that speaks such wisdom. Who knows what connections might be made tomorrow.

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