I bet you never thought you’d see Walmart and holiness in the same sentence. I like to keep people on their toes, I guess:-) So, really, what does Walmart have to do with holiness?
I doubt I would have a difficult time getting most people to agree with me when I say, no trip to Walmart is ever a quick trip. It doesn’t matter when you go or what you need, in my experience it’s never brief. Tonight was no exception. It’s not the parking (at least most of the time), or the shopping, or the size of the store. Nope, none of those things are what makes a trip to Walmart seem like you are shaving minutes off of your life. So what is it?
It’s the check-out line.
How frustrating is it when you spend any given amount of time in a store gathering up items both on your list and off your list, and just as you think you’re about out the door you turn the corner to the row of cash registers and only two of the twenty registers are open with nearly ten people in each line? I mean, really, how frustrating?!
So you stand in line and wait.
Tonight was no different. I didn’t want to go – I never want to go to Walmart – but I hadn’t yet been able to find an item on a Christmas list and figured it’d probably be best for me to give Walmart a try, considering it really is just down the street from where I live and I was on my drive home.
It was 10:30 at night as I began to slip into denial mode, telling myself Walmart couldn’t be that bad at 10:30 on a random Wednesday night – could it? So I gave myself a little pep-talk (in my head, of course). You can do it. It will be brief. You just need to check for this one thing. Well, maybe a couple other items while you’re there, but that’s it. It’ll be quick.
And I really needed it to be a quick trip because I hadn’t been home since 8:30AM, I hadn’t had dinner yet, and I was exhausted.
So…I bit the bullet, whipped my car into the left turn lane, and raced into the most horribly designed parking lot you’ve ever seen…honestly, it is. Luckily I was able to snag a parking spot near the door as someone else pulled away. Yay! I don’t like to walk from the back of a parking lot by myself so late at night so I was happy to find a spot close to the building.
My shopping endeavor was quick. As I walked near the front of the store, I held my breath, waiting to see what the check-out lines would look like. As usual, only two lanes open, but I was relieved to see the lines were short. In fact, there were only two people in line in front of me. Success, I thought quietly to myself.
The first family in line didn’t take long, but as the person directly in front of me went to check out, the cashier began having difficulty ringing up the fruit the customer was trying to purchase. The cashier entered the UPC number and received an error. So she entered it again, and again, and again. Only to receive an error, again, and again, and again. So she tried an alternative and ran into a little trouble with that too. Once the cashier was finally able to scan everything, the customer then handed her a small stack of coupons. Of course. One by one she scanned the coupons and the computer system verrrry slowly processed the deductions. The whole thing probably took a good ten to fifteen minutes, which to me seems like a long time to be waiting in line behind one person. Normally, this whole process would have probably really, really annoyed me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit irritated; however, I had just come from a meeting where I heard a really great piece of advice.
In the meeting my friend, Caroline, was having trouble with her computer, the overhead projector, and sound system. As we waited she said the words, “You are being made holy while you wait.” My ears perked up and the words sank in. Little did I know I was going to be tested with a little more waiting just a short hour or so later.
As I stood in line at Walmart, I recalled Caroline’s words and reflected on them. There are so many things in life we have to wait on and have patience for. SO.MANY.THINGS. So, instead of huffing and puffing in line, tapping my toes to the ground as if to hurry the process, or crossing my arms with a smug look on my face while impatiently waiting, I thought about what it meant to be made holy while you wait.
This approach allowed me to see the woman behind the cash register doing her best, working late hours, and helping customer after customer. If I had been in her shoes, I probably would have felt bad about the issues at the register and making folks wait and I think she felt that way too. She was kind, caring, and wanted to be sure she was ringing everything up correctly. She was doing her job and doing it well. Sometimes we aren’t able to prevent crises and she handled it well.
Seeing the cashier from her perspective rather than my own time-sensitive perspective softened my heart. I believe it did play a small part toward making me a more holy person tonight – and Lord knows I need all the holiness I can get!
Then I began to think of the customer in front of me. She was a woman who appeared to be in her 40’s. She was alone, but looked to be grocery shopping for a family, which I assumed was the case as I caught glimpse of her glimmering wedding ring. Maybe a late night grocery shopping excursion is the only time she’s able to sneak away without the young kids she might have. Maybe she had just worked an extra-long day and like me, was exhausted. As she stood in line, patiently waiting for the cashier to fix the problem she smiled kindly. She didn’t say much, but she waited patiently and acted kindly to the cashier. I even caught her give me a quick glimpse of apology. It was as if the expression she made begged forgiveness for holding up the line.
Again, the Lord was making all of us in that moment more holy. We waited and there were small, albeit important acts of kindness going on all around us. Moments of compassion for one another, moments of understanding, moments of holiness.
As the woman’s transaction was complete she gratefully walked away and the cashier warmly greeted me. We shared small talk as she rung up my items. She handed me my receipt and sympathetically apologized for the wait. Like the customer who had just come and gone in front of me, the cashier showed her apologies through her facial expression and her disposition. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly) I felt so connected to her complete human-nature in that very moment. You try and try and try and sometimes things won’t quite go your way so all you have left to do is be kind and be patient – being made holy in the process. It’s the smallest things that sanctify our hearts. It’s the smallest things that change our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with.
Standing in line tonight, I experienced the profound lesson Caroline very non-nonchalantly shared earlier this evening. “You are being made holy while you wait.” In all things.
Heading toward the door, I heard the cashier greet the customer who was next in line with a genuine apology for the wait and without a beat he kindly and cheerfully said, “Oh that’s no problem. How are you doing tonight?” A grin spread across my face as I heard those words.
Lessons of holiness all around me. Your eyes, ears, and heart are able to see, hear, and experience things differently and positively if you’ll just let them. I’m willing to bet if you keep Caroline’s statement at the front of your mind in trying times, you too, will feel holiness growing within you.
Laughs and Love,