It was one of those days—you know, when you go to work whistling, and leave skipping. Work isn’t always this fun, but for some reason last week was a good week. I was smiling a lot, and working with an effortless success. People were fun to work with, and I felt pretty fun to work with myself. I believed I was gracious to those around me, just as they were gracious to me. My week had a measure of harmony that I just wanted to record and replay at a later date.
It was Friday and Steven and I were stopping by Safeway for a few quick things after work. Smiles, holding hands, thanking Jesus for such a great week. I quickly grabbed the few things I needed and headed to the counter. Not acknowledging the stressed cashier, who was clearly not having a week like mine, Steven nudged me to smile at her.
She frowned and continued to scan my items.
I watched her scan something I forgot to put back on the shelf; something I didn’t need.
“Oh, I’m sorry ma’am; I decided I didn’t need that.” I smiled.
The woman looked up at me and continued to scan, as to say “that’s too bad for you.”
Annoyance crept up my spine.
It was time for her to scan my card, containing all the coupons I recently spent a lot of time downloading. The card didn’t work.
The annoyance turned to heat on my neck as she shouted across the store to customer service, “We need help at check-out 9! This woman did something wrong and she needs help!”
The rudeness in her voice was unfamiliar after a week of niceties.
She continued to shout, “The woman here did something wrong. Her card is not working because she did it wrong!”
She scowled at me as everyone stared.
My face was now red as anger replaced annoyance.
Without further ado, she pointed toward the service counter and told me to get out of her aisle.
I couldn’t believe her customer service! I felt neglected and disrespected. How could she be so rude…so loudly and unnecessarily when I had been so nice to her.
I stomped over to the service counter with unwarranted tears in the corners of my eyes. For some reason, I was SO mad. This woman had ruined everything good this week had brought. I was so gracious to so many people for so many days and she just…just…
Thankfully my mild-tempered husband was in the vehicle and missed the first half of the melt-down, but he didn’t miss the second-half. Before he knew it, the rude lady in the grocery store was his fault.
Emotions and frustration swept over me before I realized what was happening.
I DESERVED respect. It was my RIGHT to be treated well.
He let me fume for a few minutes before he began to reel me in. I didn’t want to talk much after I realized how I had been the unreasonable one, but I have spent several days chewing on these silly events.
I expressed in my last post how I have recently been able to to feel His love, and experience His grace. You would think I would have situations like this under control by now, but, like all of us (or at least those who can admit it) I don’t. The deepness of God’s grace comes in moments like this when He should whip us back into shape, reminding us that we disrespect and treat Him poorly so often. But instead, He loves us. Just as we are. In our most shameful moments, He loves. Not only does He not whip me into shape, He doesn’t condemn.
Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
So instead of having to dwell for days on how horrible of a Christian I am, Jesus just calls us to repent and turn to Him. Jesus took the punishment for my wrongful actions, be them ever so miniscule or gigantic.
Now back to the lady in Safeway… I’m sure I’ve had days like her, and dealt with people like me who feel entitled to my best mood when really I just want to kick them in the shin. How easy it is for me to show grace and kindness to those who are kind to me, but lock up Christ’s love for those who don’t “deserve” it. How opposite is this from what Christ has done for us? He shows us love and grace in our most undeserving moments. Embracing His true love means showing it to those who may not necessarily “earn” it. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8b
Tonight I walked in Safeway, grabbed my bread, and headed toward the check out. There she was…smiling. I’m sure she couldn’t forget the entitled blonde who had probably ruined her Friday, but still, she smiled at me. She kindly checked me out without referencing our scuffle.
It seems like a kindergarten lesson that should be like old hat to me, but it isn’t. This situation caused me to sit back and think of the people I have cold-shouldered, not smiled at, and passed by because they may have not responded to my kindness with kindness. Times like this I believe Christ’s love shines all the brighter—when it isn’t easy, merited, earned, or deserved. It isn’t out of our human nature to be love in these times, and it is only with His grace that we are able to oppose the norm and represent Him correctly. How humbling it is when I really think about what I truly “deserve”: “For the wages of sin is death…” but thank you Jesus that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23.
How do you respond to situations like these? Do you find it difficult to show love to those undeserving?
Just when I try and work at being a “better Christian”, it seems I fail. What a good reminder to just look to Him, see His goodness, kindness, and mercy, and ask that He let it overflow into us.