My son and I scoured the aisles at a local Walmart to find the shorter lines of customers about to pay.
“Let’s count and make sure we only have 20 items so we can just go to the Express lanes,” I uttered.There were only three people ahead if we qualified.
“Yes!,” my son exclained. “20!”
The last one was a lady wearing a vest with the Walmart logo. She was probably getting something small and was taking her break. Turning around, she talked to me and requested, “Would you please save my spot? I just need to get a drink really quick!”
“Sure! No problem!,” I responded, as I stood still despite her leaving a big gap between me and the person ahead of her. Other people were already curiously looking. Perhaps, not hearing her request, wondering why I didn’t advance my cart.
Coming back, she proudly held a big can of a cold coffee with extra shots.
“Thank you so much! I just needed this!,” she said with a big smile on her weary face.
Anticipating a few more minutes waiting time, the line hardly moved despite it being the express lanes.
“Busy!,” I told the lady.
She replied, “It’s hard to predict. Actually, this is nothing. Sometimes, it’s slower, then late at night, that’s when it hits us again.” Standing still while facing me, I was surprised when she kept talking and told me that her daughter had passed away and that she left a granddaughter that now she was taking care of.
“I love her to death! She looks exactly like my daughter…”
“I’m so sorry for your loss. But I’m glad you’re there to look after your granddaughter.”
“Well, the dad sometimes doesn’t take full responsibility. I’m not mean but I have to say something to him to take his part and not just let others take care of her daughter. Sometimes, I feel I’ve been taken advantage of…”
“I’m sure it’s not easy for you to confront him. But you know what’s best for your granddaughter. I’m sure it makes a difference if her father gets involved.”
“Sometimes, it hurts that my own family seems like strangers to me than friends,” I continued. “So I have changed my point of view. Being blood-related sometimes doesn’t mean a thing if we belong to God’s family, doesn’t that count as families? That we can consider others our own families because that’s what God wants anyway.. is for us to help each other out if we are in His family…” I saw her nodding her head a few times in agreement. In the corner of my eyes, I saw others’ reactions. Of wonderment why this stranger, a lady who worked at a local Walmart and this paying customer, a middle-aged woman with just 20 items in her cart could have possibly shared life’s stories in a little over 5 minutes in that line.
“Happy Holidays, you guys!” she said loudly after paying for her drink and other items.
“Merry Christmas!,” my son and I hollered as she continued to walk away and savor that short break to enjoy the energy boosting drink.
I told my son… I didn’t know the reason why we talked that way. Many people, I knew might be wearing big smiles on their faces. But deep inside, what was hidden was unbearable pain, unhealed wounds, hopelessness, faithlessness, and feeling of being rejected.
This is the Season of giving. Many around us are truly suffering. Shall we be limited only to helping out our families? Who around us are truly in need, if not of physical things but much more those who have deep voids in their hearts?” Sometimes, a simple acknowledgement of their existence by saying a sincere “Hello” or “Thank You” might mean the world to them. People worry about changing lifestyles to combat climate change when the real change needed is the condition of the hearts. Many people easily get offended by words and try to correct and mask them with words that might seem coated with peace, love and kindness. But the very same people who are offended are the ones who hurt others with actions and words. True peace, love and kindness can only be emitted from a heart changed by God’s grace. It is a gift from God.