Grace in the Grocery Aisle

Woman in Grocery StoreI hate grocery shopping.  Hate is a strong word.  Do I really hate grocery shopping?  Let me think about it . . . YES.

I don’t know what it is about grocery shopping that I deplore.  Maybe it’s figuring out menus, lists, etc.  Maybe it’s the wearisome monotony of walking the same aisles week after week.   Maybe it’s how it invades my valuable Saturday afternoons. Whatever it is . . . I disdain it.

One afternoon I headed off to the grocery store with a list in my hand and an over-sized, pity-party, life-is-miserable attitude in my heart.  I was exhausted, ticked off, and ready to quit.  I was sick and tired of taking care of everyone else, but never having time for me.  Me.  Me.  Me.

My frustration did not abate as I shopped.  It grew.  That grocery shopping trip was the last straw.  As I angrily stomped down the aisles and threw food into my overflowing shopping cart, defiant complaints overflowed my heart.  I’m so exhausted.  I never get a break.  There’s no end in sight.  There’s no way I can do all that my family needs me to do.  I have nothing left to give.  I can’t wait for the day when all this is over.

Then it happened.  Grace struck.

My kind and ever-patient Savior took me by the scruff of my stiff neck and directed my attention toward someone other than myself.  As I approached the check-out stand, I saw an elderly woman in her eighties.  She inched along slowly as if each step was painful.  Her cardigan sweater and elastic-waist pants hung loosely on her bent frame.  Her shopping cart served as her support, and wrinkles and age spots were visible from a distance.  But, what really caught my attention was the contents of her cart.

There wasn’t much.  Some lunch meat and a cheap loaf of bread.  A couple apples in a plastic bag.  A single quart of milk.  A small box of cookies.  That was it.

I stared at her cart and then looked at mine.  It takes a lot to feed a family of five, and the contrast couldn’t have been greater.  My shopping cart screamed to others that my house was full.  Her cart whispered to me that it would not always be this way.  Before me stood a woman who I imagined once pushed a cart like mine, and in an instant I realized that someday I would push a cart like hers.

My anger and discontent immediately dissipated and were replaced with tears of conviction.  This never-ending work and toil is not because of a curse, but because of a blessing!  I have children in my home, but one day they will be gone.  They will have moved on, and oh, how I will long for the days of a full shopping cart.

Proverbs 14:4 reads, “Where there are no oxen the stable is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”  If a farmer does not have oxen, he will have a sweet-smelling and orderly stable, but he will not have the benefits the oxen bring.  If I didn’t have children, my life would also be sweet-smelling and orderly, but I would not have the blessed, full life they bring.

Weary mother, it was God’s grace in the grocery aisle that arrested my attention and reminded me that my sacrificial life as a mother is a gift—not just to my children, but to me.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5