I avoid grocery shopping with my children if I can. It’s just better for everyone if Mommy goes to the store without family members. But while Chris was out of town, the girls and I had to go grocery shopping to get the things for our Thanksgiving baskets for church.
Every year, we grab a Rubbermaid tote and fill it with the requested items and then bring it back so our church can distribute them to families in need. This year, we decided we could do two of them. The baskets cost about $40-$50 to fill up (with food and a gift card for a turkey), but we decided it wouldn’t be a stretch to do two this year so we had two totes to fill.
I was slightly annoyed as I shopped for the groceries, it was bedtime for Harper and Ellie was being super-whiny about having to ride in the cart. I was lacking patience and the store was too crowded on a Friday night to get anything done quickly.
I was trying to explain to Ellie why we were shopping that night and not getting things for ourselves. In her two-year-old mind, she just couldn’t understand why if people didn’t have food, they didn’t just come to the store and get some like we were doing. Which makes sense if you don’t understand anything about money. So the lesson was lost on her.
But we continued picking out things, Ellie getting to throw the items in the cart and Harper getting to gnaw on a package of dry noodles. I was grumpy and just wanting to get the trip over with.
Toward the end of our trip, we kept running into another family who was shopping with the same list from our church and filling a basket. And of course, we always needed to be around the same objects which I didn’t have any patience for and found annoying.
In the last aisle, we ran into the family again. And as I was parking my cart to grab the remaining items, I overheard their conversation which stopped me dead in my tracks.
The parents were discussing which grocery items they needed to put back so they could afford to get the Thanksgiving tote filled. They were taking socks out of their cart and the dad was running them back to the clothing section. The mom mentioned being able to go without eggs that week. And then I got a closer look at their child, a sweet little boy with out-of-control hair who up close you could tell wasn’t right mentally.
And in that moment, I was overcome with shame.
The shame from the bad attitute I had as I was shopping for our items. The shame of only doing two totes. The shame of acting inconvenienced for an hour while serving other people.
As we shopped, I was keeping a running total in my head and was regretting grabbing two totes. Not because I didn’t have the money to spend, but because I would have rather been doing something else with that money. Like shopping for our family or eating out or Christmas shopping. Just being greedy. Just being selfish.
And then God stops me and tells me to shut up. He lets me see a family that really was struggling and how dare I complain when it wasn’t hurting me one bit to do two totes of food. And to remind me about all I have to be thankful about, all He’s blessed us with. Shelter and jobs, healthy children and love. He has met all of our needs, never let us down.
How dare I act like that.
Standing in the pasta aisle in Meijer, I felt God speaking to me like I hadn’t in a while. It was shocking and embarrassing, humbling and calming all at the same time. And it’s made me more thankful. And changed my heart.