©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

In the self-checkout line at Target, I began to get antsy and frustrated at the woman in line ahead of me digging through her gigantic purse trying to find who knows what.

One of the many checkout kiosks seemed to be open.  Couldn’t she take her place and search there?  Doesn’t she know she’s holding up the line?  Clearly, she has nothing important to do.

I had somewhere I needed to be.

Soon to arrive at my house were nine of my husband’s students, who in preparation for an upcoming conference, were coming for a meal and seminar I’d lead on how to maximize connections, be observant and take advantage of opportunities.

You’ll see the irony of this in a minute.

“Ma’am, can you pleeease move ON?!” I asked in that tone we use when our patience is waning. A directive rather than a question.

She turned and looked at me.

“It seems that guy doesn’t have enough money to pay, and I’m looking to help him out,” she said, with a nod to the man standing at the self-checkout kiosk straight in front of me.

I took my gaze off her and saw him.  With a cart packed full of his worldly possessions in non-store bags and a tattered blanket, the man clutched his bag of groceries, his brow furrowed as he nervously glanced around.

Bam!  My heart got hit with a hammer from heaven.

In my rush to accomplish what I thought had to be done, I’d missed seeing something that should be done.  I’d missed seeing someone in need.

Not only that, I’d gotten irritated with the woman in front of me for delaying me, only to find out she was trying to help someone.

And, if I’d planned better and purchased the items in advance, I wouldn’t even have been in a hurry.

The woman walked over and gave the man money to help cover his grocery charges as I slinked on to another kiosk. His broad smile with its missing front teeth radiated as he exuberantly thanked her.

Yes, after we both concluded our transactions, I caught up privately with him and gave him some money, a smile and a blessing, but that’s not the point of this sharing.

Appropriately, the Bible study I was working on that week with a small women’s discipleship group was James 1:19-20 NIV: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I very rarely get angry – really angry, shout-out-loud angry.  With a name like Joy, thankfully that isn’t a frequent occurrence!  But, like most of us, I can get irritated and frustrated, and anger’s kissing cousins can fuel a fire if we let them pile up. Even if that never happens, they take up mental and emotional space, blocking out the positive and bloating the negative.

When our minds (and mouths) let daily irritants capture and control our attention, the focus on our own “needs” can blind us to others. Thus, we overlook opportunities God puts in front of us to reflect His light to others.

Sometimes what we think requires a confrontation with another may be a inner confrontation God wants to work in us.

When we look more, listen more, and love more – with God and others, we grow more – in kindness, compassion, goodness and godliness.  That’s significantly more valuable than anything available to purchase in a checkout line. 

  • When was the last time you got angry, irritated or frustrated with someone you didn’t know?  How about with someone you love?
  • What recent situational response have you regretted?  How could you handle it differently in the future?
  • What if we pray for and smile at everyone who breaks in front of us or delays us in a line this holiday season?
  • When was the last time you came face to face with someone in need? (Consider that sometimes those you least expect to need a kind word or help actually may be hurting).  Is it possible you missed someone?

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

Remember…Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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