Does anyone else save the chore of grocery shopping for the weekend? It seems like I can never manage to fit in the kind of marketing that fills my cupboards during the work week. Maybe it’s a mental thing. If I do one big shopping trip just once a week, I can get over the trauma of it all at one time!
There are no true grocery stores in my town. We grocery shop at Walmart. I have lived in places with real supermarkets that have delicious bakeries and delis. I remember an olive bar at my former favorite grocery store! An olive bar! I know! When I moved here over a dozen years ago, I was a bit of a grocery store snob. I had to suck up the fact that my days of wandering aimlessly through aisles that tempted me at every corner were over. Don’t get me wrong. I love Walmart and all of the amazing deals that I find there. I just miss my grocery store getaways from days gone by.
After church on Sunday, it was time for my weekly adventure at the grocery store. I went prepared with a list and a mission, as usual. I knew the items that we needed and the order that I would find them in the store. This ensured a quick visit, right? That’s how I roll at the grocery store-plan, execute, and leave.
I must have lingered a bit too long in front of the flavored, carbonated waters. Water is the drink of choice in our household, so it’s important to have a variety of tasty bottles available. As I debated between the strawberry and the peach waters, I noticed a woman with a little girl. They wore clothes on top of swimwear and flip-flops on their feet. The mother held the girl’s hand as they hovered in a space in the middle of the aisle. The mother turned from side to side, staring up and down. I thought that she couldn’t find what she was looking for. I know this store pretty well, so –me being me–I asked if I could help her locate something. I’m one of “those people.” I talk to strangers. I think I can solve anyone’s problem. Surely I knew how to direct this lady and her little girl.
It turned out that the lady wasn’t looking for anything in the beverage aisle. What she needed wasn’t even on the shelf. She was searching for someone to listen to her. She was lost in her own thoughts as she walked through the grocery store hand in hand with her daughter, desperate for someone, anyone to see her. She looked into my eyes and opened her heart. Right there amongst the sports drinks and soda bottles, she poured out her troubles. I learned about the family members who used her for money, her struggles as a single mother, and her faith. The more she talked, the more tears welled up in her eyes. As they spilled onto her cheeks, I turned my attention to the little girl holding a grocery store toy in her hand, allowing the woman a chance to wipe her face without prying eyes.
We talked about life. We talked about God. We talked about trust. We talked about love. Right there in the grocery store! Before we parted ways, she thanked me for taking some time with her. She told me that she needed to tell someone about her daily trials, but didn’t know who would listen. We hugged and said good-bye. I never even got her name.
That moment was meant to happen. I wasn’t at the grocery store on Sunday morning to stock our kitchen. I was there for this woman and her adorable little girl to bump into love and kindness and grace. I was right where I was supposed to be.