Wednesday, November 6, 2013

be a grace giver

I was shopping at Target today...made a return, picked up a couple of things.  I was alone, the perfect time to grab those items I don't want my little ones to see.  Like Christmas pj's.  Ya know the ones that magically show up on your doorstep every Christmas Eve hand-delivered by Santa's sneaky elves?  At least this happens in our home each year.  Does it happen in yours too?

The cashier ringing me up at Target wasn't all that pleasant with me.  A couple of the items I was trying to buy did not have tags on them.  This frustrated her.  Each time she scanned an item, she heaped it carelessly into a pile.  Normally, cashiers bag your items immediately after they've scanned them.  Kills two birds with one stone,  I'd think.  But today, my items stacked up into a big lump before her and were thrown into two bags at the end of my order.  Usually, a "goodbye" or "have a nice day" brings closure to a shopping experience.  But not today.  I paused for a minute before leaving because I wasn't sure my order had been completed.  It wasn't until I saw my two bags on the counter with the receipt stuffed on the top, and the cashier mindlessly checking out the person behind me that I realized my turn was over.  So I picked up my bags and left.

It was rainy outside, and I was glad that I had decided to run back into the house this morning to change into my rain boots.  I was quietly wishing I would've sent my girl to school in hers.  (Maybe they'll have indoor recess and her new "faux" UGGs won't be ruined.)  I loaded my bags into the back of the car and began to paw through them to find the Christmas pj's.  I wanted to separate them from the rest of my items so that I could sneak them into the house unnoticed.

What I did notice is that one of the items I had paid for was missing.  Actually, two items.  I searched through my two bags once again, carefully refolded the wadded up clothes inside, moved my smooshed bananas from the bottom of the bag up to the top, looked at the receipt to make sure I had indeed paid for the items missing, and walked back into the store to inquire.

The same cashier who rang me up seemed annoyed with me when I told her what had happened.  We had to go through every item on my receipt.  And as she did, she thumbed through my bags, yanking my carefully folded garments back out, and wadding them back up on the counter.  There was no evidence of my items being left in the store.  I am certain they were given to the lady who checked out after me.  So, I had to go back through the store to pick up the same items and present them to the cashier to make sure the barcodes matched before I left. I was compliant.

Moments after I pulled out of the Target parking lot, I heard a loud, blaring, long and overextended honking of horn behind me.  You know the kind that drags on and has heavy oomph and emphasis to it?  Yep, that kind.  Not the polite little "beep-beep." Although I was mindful of the slick roads, and cautious that there was a large enough gap between me and the oncoming car before pulling out into traffic, this angry driver must not have thought so.  It seemed that blaring horn was never going to stop.  Boy, was he telling me!  I wasn't trying to offend anyone, and I really thought I was being careful and considerate.  I'm still not sure what I did wrong, but the message was clear that this person thought I was at fault, and he wanted to let me know how much that offended him.  Despite the darkness of the sky, the day was still young.  Too early to let others get to me, so I dusted it off.

As I started to drive home, I thought of that Target cashier once more and felt prompted to pray for her. I have no idea what is going on in her life right now.  I have no idea what thoughts are consuming and preoccupying her mind, causing her to be unfriendly toward me.  I don't take it personally.  There are so many things we don't know about one another's lives.  We are all broken, in one way or another.  And no one goes without struggle as we journey through this life.

I know I've talked a lot on the subject of grace lately, but it certainly seems there is quite a lack of it in this world.  People get too easily offended with one another.  Too easily angered.  We are quick to lash out and retaliate every time we feel wronged, slighted, or inconvenienced.  We think about ourselves, how things make us feel,  and rarely take time to picture ourselves walking in someone else's shoes.  We don't give others the benefit of the doubt, and often choose to assume the worst.

I know that when I am struggling with something, I am more apt to get easily angered and offended.  When I am "stuck" in my own junk, I tend to lack that grace that Jesus calls us to offer to others.  I also lack clear perspective and it becomes more difficult to "bear all things."  So, it had me thinking.  The people I come across who may (in small or large doses) offend or disappoint me, might actually be the ones struggling the most.  They are probably the ones who need our prayers the most too.  And that beautiful gift of grace may be just what they need to lighten their burdensome load.

I wonder what this world would look like if we actually started doing this....If we could start dusting off our offenses, extend a bit more grace, and pray for one another?  As I found myself praying, I noticed that the ways I have been offended had begun to pale.  And my heart was softened toward the people who had offended me.  This isn't the first time this has happened.  God has worked wonders in my wounded heart when I've committed to pray for those who have hurt me.

Prayer is most certainly the remedy for all offenses.  Jesus instructs us to pray for those who hurt and offend us.  To love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  While this might very well be for their benefit, it is for ours too.  It unlocks and breaks loose those chains of unforgiveness, bitterness and strife.  It softens us and makes us capable of reflecting Him better to this world.  It frees us.  It gives us a fresh lens to see the world and others.  And with it comes His peace.  While there have been some rockiness to our roads lately, that's one thing that hasn't left me.  His Peace.  That indescribable, unsurpassing Peace.  It makes all things more bearable.

I think a popular song of 1965 had it all right:  "What the world needs now is LOVE sweet LOVE."  It's not just for others, it's for us too.  Extend grace to those around you...even the unlikeable and the unloveable.  We are called to do this.

The rain, smooshed bananas, and horn honking haven't dampened my spirit today.  Despite some of the obstacles before me, my heart has been full and grateful.  Join me today, determined to be a grace giver to a world in need of a heaping dose of it.  And watch your burden be lifted as His Peace settles upon you.

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, 
and slow to become angry."
James 1:19

"But I tell you, love your enemies 
and pray for those who persecute you."
Matthew 5:44


  1. Replies
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    2. Oops! Didn't mean to delete that! Anyways, I was saying Becky Jo, the post was written just as much for me as for anyone else! this grace-giving...definitely not always the most natural or easiest way to go...we all know this narrow road sure is narrow! but i believe it's all worth the journey.