A few days ago, I was grocery shopping at Aldi with my 3-year-old daughter. The store was busy as usual. It was filled with men and women, elderly couples, and lots of young mothers with carts overflowing with groceries and little kids. As I shopped, I found myself smiling and making casual conversation with a few of the other customers in the store. (I just can’t seem to help myself… I’m an extrovert!)
When it was time to check-out, I ended up in line behind a mother with three little boys. Her youngest was seated in the cart and trying desperately to “help” his mom. Unfortunately, when things didn’t go quite how he hoped they would, he got upset. As his frustration level rose, it appeared his mom’s anxiety level did as well.
I could have been annoyed that the line wasn’t moving fast enough or ignored the situation unfolding before me. Instead, I chose to engage the little boy by praising him for his willingness to help his mom. Then I helped her to unload her groceries onto the conveyor belt so she could finish checking out and be on her way. She appreciated the help and I was blessed to be able to offer it. (Lord knows, I’ve needed help in the grocery aisle a time or two!)
As I walked out of the store with my own groceries, and daughter in tow, it struck me: I had no idea what that woman’s name was. I didn’t know if she shared my religious beliefs or not. I didn’t know if she voted for Hillary or Trump or a third-party candidate in the election last week.
In fact, I didn’t know any of the people in Aldi. I didn’t know if they were straight or gay, married or single, rich or poor, immigrants or natural-born citizens of the United States. Some of them looked a lot like me. Many of them didn’t.
Here’s the thing. None of that mattered.
Despite all our potential differences, we have so many more similarities. We all need groceries. We can all use a friendly smile and a kind word from time to time. We all need compassion and grace and love. And sometimes, we really need an extra hand to help us in the “trying moments” of life that we find ourselves in.
In light of everything that is happening in our world and our nation right now, it can be tempting to focus on our differences and allow it to divide us. But what if we didn’t?
What if instead, we chose to find the things that we do have in common and we built upon that foundation? What if we chose to actually treat one another how we want to be treated (FLAWS AND ALL?!)
As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbors (ALL OF THEM!) as myself. We always have a choice, don’t we?! So let us choose wisely… our words, our thoughts and especially our actions.
” Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18