Lost in the Grocery Aisle
by Laurie Russell
(posted with permission)
I dread going to the grocery store. It seems each time I go I’m in a hurry, with a time limit hanging over my head.
One time a while back, my kids and I went to the smaller, more expensive store by our house. We only needed a few things, and like always, I was in a hurry. The kids hung on to sides of the cart as I darted down each aisle in a race against the clock. I was like a mini van with a turbo engine weaving around other customers. And then I was forced to slow down.
My cart faced the backside of a little ol’ grandma who had parked her cart in the middle of the lane. She looked at one shelf, took a few steps and then looked some more. She turned and saw us waiting. A smile spread across her face and she said hello to the kids and then went back to her shopping.
She seemed oblivious that we were waiting on her to move. So I did what I’d want someone else to do if it was my mother in that situation, I smiled, pretended to be on the wrong row, turned around and hurried off. However, we must have been shopping for the same items because she was everywhere I needed to be and her cart remained in the way. I was getting annoyed, really annoyed. Didn’t she remember it’s rarely fun to shop with young kids hanging on your cart?
We finished up and I shuttled the kiddos out to the car. As I loaded my groceries, out came the little ol’ grandma and a store employee. He loaded her groceries as she chatted away. I could tell he was trying to cut her off and get back to work. I feared I was next to be chatted up by her so I hurried with my groceries in hopes of pulling off before the store employee was able to get away.
Then I heard her say something that changed everything, “My husband died about a month ago. It’s so hard eating dinner by myself. I don’t know how to shop and cook for just one person.”
Ouch, ouch, OUCH!
It literally took my away breath. She wasn’t a self-absorbed shopper taking up the aisle…she was a new widow learning how to survive without her husband and to eat alone. I was the self-absorbed one. I felt like such a jerk.
I stalled as I finished loading my car, I felt the need to talk with her. She said good-bye to the grocery boy and turned to face me. I didn’t know what to say so I commented on the fancy doors of her truck. She began telling me the story of her husband and how he wanted her to have a safe car. She wanted to save money but now that she’s alone, she figured he was right.
We talked for fifteen minutes. I was late to our next appointment but truly humbled that day. God reminded me that the heart of His children is more important than the busyness of my life.
This happened years ago and I still don’t know what to do with it. There are so many lonely and hurting people around me but I fear I’m often too distracted by my “to do” list to see them, and sometimes even care. We live in the earth’s most populated age yet many of us feel isolated and suffer alone.
I know I need to slow down, say “no” more and “be” in the moments of life. I often fear I’m raising my kids to live a busy life. I want them to live, love and be not survive, overlook and hurry. This is the first Saturday we have no soccer or baseball games and I’m literally thinking of ways we need to “fill” the day and be productive versus enjoying one another. Where’s the balance?
So, do any of you out there ever feel the same? Do you have any insight on how to slow down without pulling out of life?