Finding the shortest line at the grocery store isn’t always a guarantee of fastest checkout. I pushed the cart into the line and began unloading my groceries onto the conveyor belt. A man stood in front of me.
He was obviously on his lunch. A container of something from the deli, a bag of chips, and a Red Bull sat on the otherside of the dividing bar. In front of him, was a lady in an electrical cart. The cashier wore an expression of barely restrained patience and annoyance as the lady in her seventies counted out pennies, nickles, dimes, and dollar bills.
The older lady dropped a $20 bill on the floor and it wedged itself between her cart wheels and the wall of the cash register. The man in front of me stared blankly ahead. He didn’t look at the lady, but through the cashier to some invisible point beyond.
I smiled, excused myself as I cut in front of him, and bent down to pick up the $20 bill. The older lady smiled at me as I handed her the bill. She tried to joke with the man and the cashier, but received a poor audience. Having only just piled my groceries on the belt five minutes ago, I couldn’t guess how long the man in front of me had been waiting his turn.
How many times have I walked into the store to grab something quick because lunch was extremely limited in time only to stand behind a lady like this?
God is always testing the limits of our patience, trying us in simple situations like this one. Loving someone is making the choice to be patient with them, even if we feel the muscles tighten in our faces and we try to look anywhere but at the person testing our patience.
The man barely said two words to the cashier as she rang up his order. He took his lunch and was gone, body probably needing another recharge of Red Bull. It was almost like he had wings.
I still don’t condemn the man for not helping the lady or blame him for his annoyance. I, too, am guilty of not helping as if punishing the person for whatever it was he or she was doing. Situations like this remind me of Jesus’ grace over and over again.
He came, not because we deserved it, but because He first loved us. Today, be a little less in a hurry. Swallow that impatience and force a smile on your face. A smile makes all the difference in someone’s life.