You know when you have one of those moments that completely and unexpectedly crash into your philosophy of life and leave it changed forever?
I had one of those moments this last week and in one of the most unlikely of places, the grocery store. Let me explain…
Every Friday at 5:45 am, my friend and I meet to go grocery shopping together. (No explanation, we’re just crazy like that!) Most Fridays follow a certain routine. We meet, grab our carts, chat about the latest goings-on in our lives as we gather our groceries. Then we meet at the front to checkout at the only open register with a cashier that we know.
This last Friday was going completely as planned, until we got to the register.
Right before we started to check out with our groceries there was a switch at the register. As I watched the familiar cashier walk away on break, I saw the new cashier make her way behind the register.
I could tell by the look on her face that she wanted to be anywhere other than where she was at the moment.
As the cashier started scanning our groceries, she made a few comments that rubbed me the wrong way. I tried to be ‘nice’, but it wasn’t working. And sadly enough, I started to lose my cool. (Shocker, right?)
For those of you who don’t know, this is what losing my cool looks like: I start smiling in a very fake manner, I start talking quickly, and I tend to roll my eyes while no one is watching. I often think to myself that as long as I don’t say anything rude to a person, I’m fulfilling my reasonable Christian service (Gag!). But even though the words aren’t coming out of my mouth, they are surely floating around in my head.
I made it through the transaction with as few words as possible, and then I was done. Phew!
However, what took place next is what shook me. Behind me came my friend. The cashier went on to treat her with no more gentleness than she had used with me, but I noticed that my friend only responded with kindness. She even went as far as to compliment the lady on her bagging! Seriously! Who does that?
She didn’t just try to get through the unpleasant experience as quickly as possible as I had done. She spoke to the lady as if she were a friend, and she eventually found out that the lady had been through a rough night.
Needless to say, I felt so childish for my behavior. And I stood corrected.
But it didn’t end there. As we were walking out of the store, and just when I thought my friend had gone over and beyond the call of duty, my friend turns to me and says, “Hold on a minute! I’m going to get some chocolate for that lady, and I want to write her a quick note.”
She proceeded to write a note on the back of a receipt and walked back with chocolate in hand for this cashier. I guarantee you that my friend single-handedly changed that cashier’s morning for the better.
Something clicked inside of me as I watched her pour kindness on someone to whom I had only felt frustration. When I got back in my car, I couldn’t shake what had just unfolded. And then a scripture came to my mind…
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” Psalm 23:6
I have always loved this promise in the Bible. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want that? But as I was thinking about the scenario above, I had a thought: “If goodness and mercy are following me all of my life, shouldn’t I leave some behind wherever I go? Shouldn’t the residue of His goodness and mercy rub off on all those with whom I come in contact?”
I had been upset by the inconvenience this cashier had caused me, but what if God had wanted me to come in contact with her? Could it be possible that I was supposed to be a blessing to her?
Thankfully, where I failed, my friend did not. She left goodness and mercy behind her that day. (Thank God for friends who point us to Jesus!)
From now on I don’t want to see a person who treats me poorly as an obstacle in my path. See, the truth is that they are very likely hurting inside, and they have been put in my path to receive comfort, to catch a glimpse of His love.
So the next time I come in contact with a person who rubs me the wrong way, I have a choice to make. Do I simply hold my tongue and fulfill my ‘reasonable Christian service’, or do I look at this as an opportunity to bless someone with my words and actions?
By His grace, I will choose kindness.