I will share this story with you now so that I might dispel any notion you may have that I am perfect, so that you might feel better about your own short comings. Or maybe I just need to confess.
If there is a single struggle that defines my life (and oh if only it were just ONE) it is the constant inner-battle between wanting and not wanting stuff. Within the space of two seconds I can swing between feeling sickened and burdened by the sheer volume of my stuff to wanting more of it.
So then, the other day I was at Wal-Mart and I was not in a fine mood. I was just sort of feeling mad at everything for no particular reason. My cart was all wobbly and really annoying and that was making me mad. I didn’t like the way my jacket fit and that made me mad. People were in my way and that was making me mad. They didn’t have the two things I specifically went to the store to get and that made me mad. Like Little Critter, I was just so mad. I probably had those two little squiggly vertical lines above my head that you see in cartoons.
But mostly what was making me mad was that everything just seemed really expensive and that was energizing the Want Team. The Want Team are a bunch of bullies really. They taunt me and poke their bony fingers into my tender self-esteem. And they are a pack of liars too. Meanwhile the Not Want Team was off snoozing somewhere. Like some sort of bulimic shopper, I put stuff in my cart only to talk myself out of it and take it out two aisles later. Which then made me feel resentful and sorry for myself, and you guessed it, mad. (Sorry Wal-Mart employees for the Rubber Maid containers, lemon zester and Christmas placemats you found in with the women’s socks.)
Weary of the battle, I gave up and decided to head towards the checkout with my coffee and few other things and head home. As I headed down the big center aisle toward the front, I looked up from my dark cloud to see a young woman pushing a cart towards me. In the seat of the cart was a little girl. An older woman walked alongside her, perhaps her mother. The woman pushing the cart was radiantly happy. She was enjoying her little girl and chatting happily with her mother. She was not taking stuff in and out of her cart like a crazy lady, stuff that would ultimately rot away or be eaten by moths. She was not mad. She was not mad at all. She was a picture of joy.
As I passed her I tried not to stare at her Prednisone-puffed face or the tell-tale dew rag she wore on her bald head.
I wanted to cry. Not so much for her, but for me, for my sorry state of being.
I offered up a prayer for her as she passed, a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing that she was to me, for being the slap in the face that I needed in just that moment. I prayed that God would look upon her with favor and restore her completely.
I went to the store for groceries, but left with what I really needed — a cleansed perspective.
Chalk one up for the Not Want Team who rallied from behind — thanks to the lady in the dew rag.