TAX FREE WEEKEND!! Did you guys go shopping? That’s what I’m talking about!! Just kidding. I would rather die a thousand deaths than step foot inside a commercial establishment on tax free weekend. I know…I’m in the minority. Most of my girlfriends were all giddy at the possibility of saving $5.32 at checkout. I would rather lose a limb (truth) and give up sugar for a year (lies) than to brave the retail elements on this annual nightmare weekend. I WOULD RATHER PAY THE TAX than to fight you over that last pack of #2 pencils. You can have em, lady. No, really. You go right ahead. Because I can promise you by the look on your face, they mean more to you than they ever will to me. My kids will live with one pack of 25. I’m willing to risk them being publicly shamed and humiliated in front of their peers on the first day of school so that you can walk away the victor. Actually, I need to thank you for knocking a whopping $4 off my already $312 shopping bill. Go and be blessed.
Y’all. Seriously. I cannot even deal. It’s like the day after Thanksgiving minus the sweater weather and all the feels. I need to be holding a Starbucks and listening to Christmas music on the loud speaker if I’m gonna go through all this nonsense. I could ALMOST MAYBE go to blows with you over that last three-ring binder if we weren’t both dripping sweat and exhausted from all 7 of your children who, for some reason unbeknownst to me, you bring with you shopping on the worst weekend of the year. Explain yourself…
I mean, you know you’re miserable. It’s written all over your face (in 8 dry erase markers and 24 colored pencils). I’m miserable, too. Your kids are making me miserable for the both of us. And you’re about to snap. I see you eyeing that pharmacy. You’re about to go grab something to take the edge off. Do it. I’ll watch the kids. And we haven’t even made it to checkout where, mark my words, we WILL get the sweet little lady who talks about every single purchase we’re making today.
“I heard these are great folders. Very durable.”
“Are these avocados ripe? I don’t think so.”
“Have you tried this gum? Let me just check the sugar content on it. My husband, Fred, is a diabetic but I bet he could chew this.”
Jesus, take the wheel. By the time it’s over I’m about ready to throw in a box of Marlboro and a 3 pack of lighters for the win. I’ll learn on the way home.
But then there it is. (Ugh! Please stop, Lord). I always feel it. Well, not always – sometimes I feel rage – but often I feel it. And when I don’t feel it, the truth is, I ask Him for it. Conviction. And Grace. And eyes to see. The Lord has such a sweet way about Him. A voice that says, “You don’t know what she goes through, Heather. You don’t know what kind of day she’s had. Ask her. Ask about Fred (please God, no). Maybe you’re the first person who has smiled at her today. Ask the mom of all these many children how she does it. Tell her she’s amazing. Tell her somebody sees her. Tell her I see her.”
Noooo!!!! Jesus, please leave me alone and just let me roll my eyes and huff so the people across the street can hear me. I’ll feel so much better.
Oh, it’s not about me?
One of my closest friends is a nurse. She is genuinely one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. Last week, one of her patients threw her bedpan in the floor and laughed as my friend had to clean it up. Now look, my girl is human, ok? She wasn’t particularly thrilled with having to wipe up this lady’s disgusting bodily fluids as she was being mocked. She went to The School of Sarcasm like some of the rest of us, and if I know her, she was having to lock it down. But you know what? Her love for Jesus and for this lady overruled any frustration she was feeling. And she would do it all over again just to get to show that lady the love of Christ, which is what she did. Because it’s what she’s called to do. It’s what we’re all called to do. Now, I‘m not suggesting we be doormats all in the name of Christianity. Sometimes we have to stand up and speak out and say, “Do you mind NOT throwing your (extremely full) bedpan at me? Many thanks.” Hopefully, we’ll have grace to know the when’s and how’s. It is so hard. I know…
I forget sometimes that there are people all around me who are doing hard things in life and who are sick and grieving and crying on the inside. I forget that I’m not the only one who has issues. I forget that sometimes our troubles make us angry and cranky and that nobody gets THAT upset over pencils. We act out of character sometimes when life pins us up against the wall. I know first hand. There is always more to the story. Am I gonna lay aside my frustrations long enough to listen and to love? Sometimes I miss the mark, but I’m trying really hard to be salt and light. I’m trying to relate and understand and show mercy and let go of my death grip on the pencils and to ask about Fred. Because I can guarantee you I’ve had my fair share of days when I wasn’t so nice to the mom who got the last pack of graph paper (which I can never find). I’ve cried my way through the aisles of Target more times than I can count, dealing with what life and the precious people in it were throwing my way. I know what it’s like to need the smile. I know what it’s like to be struggling and have somebody be mean to you at Walmart. Don’t think for one second that I don’t want to ram my buggy into their un-manicured heels. It crosses my mind. My inside chatter says, “I don’t want to have to be the bigger person here! I’m struggling today!! I’ve been done wrong, too!!” But the thing is – I have Jesus and I have hope. And when I can, it’s my job to give it.
God, help me to get outside of myself and be an extension of You. Help me to represent well. Help me to see the good in people and to love the hurting. And please have mercy on me, because I actually have to go shopping tonight (help, Lord). Please let everybody just be sweet and share the pencils. Thank you.
And God Bless Fred.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.