"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Grocery shopping alone! Oh how I'd taken that luxury for granted before having children.
As I headed to the store after dropping my children off at a church event, I was nearly giddy with the joy of it all. A whole hour to myself. I had it all planned. I'd start with a soda, and leisurely meander through the aisles, actually looking at my coupons and thinking through meal planning.
No "Mommy can I get this?" or "I have to go the bathroom!" comments would interrupt my time. I was going to be the most effective shopper in that store!
It felt like I had all the time in the world, and I was really enjoying myself. Until I looked at my watch. Then panic set in.
How had that much time gone by? I'd been there over an hour. I wasn't finished and still had to check out.
I grabbed the last items on my list, rushed to the checkout lines and scurried between them trying to find the shortest line. I mentally assessed the checkout clerks, trying to determine their speed. Glancing at my watch for the fifth time, I picked one hoping Murphy's Law would not apply to me.
The clerk proved quick, and soon it was my turn. Although I could feel myself getting impatient (as I looked at my watch yet another time) I tried to keep it under control. But the time was really late. And not only did I still have to pick up my children, but I told my sister I'd meet her for lunch after that. Everyone was waiting on me.
And then the clerk hit a snag. One of my items wasn't ringing up correctly. He called for backup. But the first manager couldn't help. "I'm sorry Ma'am," the young man cringed. "I'm going to have to call the meat department."
Seriously?! I thought to myself. Just give it to me for free so I can go!
I could feel myself getting more and more anxious. Everything in me felt like showing this young man how impatient I was. I could roll my eyes, sigh with exaggeration and set my wallet down hard on the counter.
I sensed the Lord was telling me to be nice, but I didn't feel like being nice!
Thankfully, then the Holy Spirit stepped in and clearly spoke to my heart: Don't sacrifice kindness on the altar of your impatience.
Immediately I was repentant. I knew I was the one to blame for neglecting the time. Not this clerk. And rather than impatience, God prompted me to show kindness to this flustered young man who could not get my ham steak to ring up.
"It's okay," I said with a sincere smile. "I'll come back another time."
Whew, talk about a close call. I could have easily given in to impatience like I'd done plenty of times before. And then it probably would have snowballed. Especially when I got back to the church and my children sauntered up to the car. Yet rather than snapping at them to hurry, they got an apology and a much nicer mother.
I so desperately want to be a woman who shows grace and kindness to others. One who puts the feelings of others above her plans. However, too often I allow impatience to direct my actions, sacrificing kindness when others most need it.
God has such a beautiful, loving plan for us as we live together on this earth. In one sentence we have all the rules needed to get along: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32).
At this busy Christmas season, it might be easy to feel impatient as stores are crowded and lines are long. If you're like me, you've got too much to do in too little time. Yet in the midst of the hustle and bustle, when impatience starts to rise, perhaps we might make a choice.
Could we choose to be kind even when we don't feel like it?
Perhaps we could even start a kindness revolution ... at home first, then work, church and the store. Rather than impatience, let's create a culture of kindness wherever we go, showing God's love to those who need it most.
Lord, thank You for showing kindness to me when I least deserved it. Help me to be Your loving hands, feet and words to a world that desperately needs You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what situations do you find yourself the most impatient?
What things can you do differently to create a culture of kindness in your life?
© 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org