I ran to Dollar General for milk and ketchup. My husband had dinner ready to be on the table when we realized we were nearly out of both, so of course, I was in a rush.
I grabbed the milk and ketchup and headed straight for the checkout line. When I got there, I found a woman with two teenage girls and four carts full of items. The woman had a lot of coupons in her hand, and I soon realized she was making multiple transactions and making sure before each one that she was using the right coupons at the right time. In fact, she and the cashier were debating on starting the current transaction over so that the coupons could be entered in a different order.
There was only one cashier. Not another employee in sight.
I felt the frustration building. I only had three items—whole milk, 2% milk, and the ketchup—and this lady in front of me was going to take who-knows-how-long to get through all those transactions. The milk was cold and heavy in my hands, so after a few minutes standing there I put them down on a nearby shelf.
I became more annoyed as the minutes went by. I thought about putting everything back and going to the gas station down the road. I thought about speaking up and asking if I could checkout—I had dinner waiting at home, after all, and only three things compared to her cart loads. I shifted my weight from one foot to the next. I looked around again for another employee. And I almost said hell with it and walked out the door, leaving the milk and ketchup right there on the shelf.
Instead, I prayed.
Specifically, I prayed for patience. I prayed for compassion for the woman in front of me, and for the woman who was working solo on a Saturday night.
Several more minutes passed, but this time, the minutes passed more peacefully. I still wanted to get back home to my family, but I intentionally focused on an understanding that this may be the means to an end for this woman with all her coupons. If nothing else, I understood that she was there first, and has the right to purchase her items, in any way she wants to purchase them.
And then, the woman turned and saw me. She finished paying for her soups, and before moving onto the cart full of water bottles, she told the cashier, “Let this lady go next, she only has one thing.”
“Three things,” I said, picking up the milk, “but thank you for letting me go next. I appreciate it.”
“I’ve got a lot going on here,” she says apologetically.
“It’s okay. I understand,” I said.
I paid for my items in less a minute, and the cashier said, “Do you want your receipt?”
I use my receipts for rewards points on a cash back app I use. “Sure,” I said.
As the receipt printed, I noticed the $5 off a $25 purchase coupon—one of the many coupons the woman was using.
“Do you want this?” I asked the woman.
“Thank you,” she said.
Do I think God willed the woman to see me and let me buy my milk and ketchup, or that He printed the receipt with a coupon so I could give it to her? No.
What God did was even better—He created us with the ability to have patience and compassion and love for our neighbors. It was up to me to use those gifts, brought to the surface through the power of prayer.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me all of the gifts I’ll ever need to be type of the person You need me to be. Amen. 💕