Grocery Store Disaster


I think it's good to share challenges as well as victories. Yesterday helped me realize why my previous grocery triumph was so incredible. Yesterday was a grocery disaster:):(! Probably my fault for bringing Jonathan with me too close to dinner.... Walking through Walmart after some initial tomato squishing and throwing in the produce department, throwing and shredding of some bread product (I need to pay for one of those without buying it next time I'm there) and toe action to catch whatever his hands couldn't reach, I was praying and asking God what he wanted me to take away from this. This was a far cry from my previous prayer victory.

I took a deep breath and looked at Jonathan. He looked back at me, calm for a moment. No malice there. Jesus loves me, this I know. On to another aisle, where an old-world looking gentleman loading things on to the shelf smilingly moved out of our way to give me wide berth while I explained. Suddenly, bananas from the cart went flying. Cojoling with the neatest accent, "Why you angry? You good boy, good boy!" Like having a grandfather who understood him. I gulped and moved on, thanking him. Just a few more items...but Jonathan was beyond himself. No more stops - I looked around for anyone with a Walmart badge. "Hi," I said a little desperately to a man in his mid-thirties with sad lines around his eyes. He might have been from somewhere in the east, I'm not sure. Compassionate eyes. "I'm going to need some help. Could you help me get these groceries out of this cart? If I take him through the line he'll grab everything. He's really had it." "I'll take you in 16," he said. There were people in line, but he closed it and the checker finished with them while he and another woman transferred groceries. I came around long to the other side. They wouldn't take the extra cash I got to tip them... and then the tears began to stream. The kindness of strangers, all from far away places (the checkout guy wore a turban). Made in God's image, choosing kindness. The humbling that takes place when you accept something you can't pay back. I think the guy with the turban felt bad as he followed me out to the van with the second cart - I tried to turn my face away, but he knew I was crying. At the van, I wiped my tears -"You guys were like angels. Thank you. What's your name?"

We smiled and I shook his hand. I think he felt better. On the way home, I was praying, "Lord, what do you want me to take away from this? I feel so sad right now. The future looks long and hard." But as I'm writing this, I know now that God doesn't waste our tears. They wash the window into someone else's soul. Didn't Jesus do that for us - walk this earth, experiencing our every sorrow and challenge? He is a faithful high priest who empathizes with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15). And when we accept His free gift of salvation, we accept His awful self-sacrifice, without anything comparable to offer in return. Three foreigners' kindnesses reminded me of that. Foreign like Rahab and Ruth. And the weight of the long, long journey my hope for Jonathan must travel? Next time I see a picture of a Mom holding her starving baby I'll feel her ache, and ask God what he wants me to do. Would I choose the pain - of course not. But I thank Him, because I want to love more deeply. This suffering, which compares so lightly to what others bear, is actually a gift of love. He loves me. He loves you. And He loves Jonathan. When we arrived home, I looked into Jonathan's face - his shining eyes smiled sweetness. Jesus loves me, this I know.