Shopping Tips

Though I identify myself as a preschool teacher, my current “job” is cashier at a local grocery/department store chain. I have been compiling a list of tips for being a good shopper. I truly enjoy my job and, though I work with people (and that isn’t easy for me), my encounters are 30 seconds – 10 minutes long on average so those less-easy-to-work-with individuals go very quickly. I have, however, recognized certain irritations caused by customer habits.

From a cashier to you, the shopper, here are some ways you can make your cashier’s (and others around you) life easier.

*THE CLOCK IS TICKING. I am happy and eager to help you check your groceries. However, as soon as I scan that first item, an actual clock starts timing my transaction. Each item gets a certain amount of time it is supposed to take to ring it up and the computer is keeping track of my scan time as well as my total customer interaction. I am honestly happy to help those who need a little more. However, if it is physically possible for you to complete this task in a short amount of time, you are helping me keep my job. The following requests will help with this…

*PUT YOUR ITEMS ON THE BELT WHILE YOU ARE STANDING IN LINE. Most things have to be scanned across the belt, especially produce that has to be weighed. Please use your waiting time to put things on the belt instead of standing around until it is your turn. If you are using reusable bags, put those up first. I try not to start until I have somewhere to put things.

*LEAVE HEAVY ITEMS IN THE CART. We have snazzy magic wands that can scan barcodes from afar. Twenty pound bags of dog food and 12 packs of soda wear on our backs if we are twisting them around 20 hours per week. You probably don’t want to lift it up anyway, and neither do we.

*GET YOUR MONEY HANDY. You’re going to pay, right? You probably need your wallet or to have your card or cash in your pocket.

*READ YOUR COUPONS. Coupons are tricky. They might not be for what you think. Just because a coupon is hanging next to something, does not mean it is for that item. If you are buying baby formula, Pampers knows you have a baby, so they might hang a diaper coupon next to the formula to coax you to find their diapers.  Also, coupons often exclude brands or sizes, so make sure the item you are choosing is not excluded by the fine print. It never hurts to ask, but if a coupon doesn’t work, the cashier can tell you why. We don’t write the coupons or program the computer, so please accept that a coupon might not work.

*CHOOSE YOUR ITEMS AND PUT BACK WHAT YOU DON’T WANT. No problem if you need to check a price or ask a question about something. However, if half of your cart ends up being things you need to put back, put them back.

*PUT THINGS WHERE THEY GO. As you are putting back the things you don’t want, put them where you found them. Do you have to walk all the way across the store to put it back? Go for a walk. Be responsible for your choices. If you are in a hurry or forgot about something until you got to the register, please PLEASE give it to the cashier instead of leaving it in a random place. Pansies obviously don’t belong in a bin of Twizzlers. If it is cold, leaving it elsewhere will make it go bad. Just give it to the cashier.

*IT’S NOT YOURS UNTIL YOU PAY FOR IT. If the baby is screaming or someone is having a health emergency, we completely understand if you need to break into the cereal bars or orange juice before paying for it. However, you know who you are. Just because you are hungry or something looks really good does not mean you can eat it. If you haven’t paid for it, you don’t own it and you are stealing by eating it. Paying for it after the fact is making restitution for a wrong, not an acceptable scenario for eating what is not yours. In addition, if you eat a banana, there is no easy way to charge you for that banana because it is sold by weight. You just stole a banana. The store might not say anything to you for doing this, but employees aren’t allowed to sample or open things before paying so this is evidence that the store does not think this is ok.

*DON’T CUT THROUGH LINES. People generally know not to “cut” in line, but it is not uncommon for someone to squeeze behind a full line of people and shopping carts to get to the restroom. It’s rude and invades people’s personal bubbles. If the lane is empty, come on through, no problem. But if there are people in line, go around. Yes, go all the way around all the registers. You need the exercise anyway.

*PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR YOU. Other customers are waiting in line. When your items aren’t ready or you don’t know what you are doing or you didn’t read the signs or you don’t have your money out, other people are at your mercy. Please be prepared and as quick as possible. Remember, too, that the cashier is waiting on you, too. 

However, if no one is in line and you have finished paying, take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere and no clocks are ticking so I’m happy to chat or help you organize your stuff.

Happy shopping!

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Responsible for Your Own Situation

Life is inconvenient and we are each responsible to overcome or deal with our own inconveniences.

I do a lot of business through a phone app called OfferUp, where I list items I no longer need, and other members message to buy them. We then come to an agreement on price and meeting place and make the transaction.

I have had no bad experiences with this, per se, but I have gotten to the point where I do not go out of my way to sell something. If someone can come pick up on my porch and I only have to put it outside, great. Otherwise, I will agree to meet them somewhere I will already be, such as outside my workplace 30 minutes before I have a shift. I’m already going to be there anyway, so if the customer doesn’t show, my inconvenience is minimal.

  There was one time in the past that I agreed to meet someone at a store, so I went out of my way with three kids whining in the backseat and waiting 30 minutes for the person not to show up. She told me her husband, who was supposed to do the meeting, had forgotten his phone so we rescheduled for later that same day. I returned to the same place with kids in tow, only for her not to show again. No more.

This weekend, I got a “bite” on two toddler suits I have been trying to sell for months. I agreed to drop the price from $15 each to $10 each for the both of them and I asked the person to meet me at my work place. She said she does not drive and can I bring them to her development. This violated my personal decision not to be inconvenienced by buyers.

This weekend, after some discussion, I told the person I would take $20 for the suits if she would meet me at my work or I would charge $30 to come to her. She said no, so I said no.

A couple days later she messaged again and was still interested. I said we could meet at my work. She said she couldn’t drive. I asked if she would pay $30 for the suits if I brought them to her. She said no. I declined.

I looked up the address and it just so happened that it was on the way to somewhere I was going so I went ahead and offered to bring them to her. I wasn’t happy about it, but I had been holding on to these suits for months and at least she was willing to pay $25. We agreed. And then she messaged “Bring change for $40”.

Are you freaking kidding me? Maybe if I had $15 in my wallet, I would have went with it, but in this case I would have had to go to a store to get cash back in order to have proper change. These were her responsibilities. It felt like she was saying “You have to come to me and being me money”. My temperature was rising. If she wanted these suits, she should be coming to get them. I simply said that I would not have change. If she had given me any kind of objection, I was seriously going to give her a piece of my mind. As it was, she figured it out and I got it over with. 

I get that people have various life situations. Last year I went without a car for a period as I had to get my transmission fixed. I learned how to take the bus, and was grateful and impressed with the availability of it. However, during that same period, I started a new job in an area where there was no bus service. I asked relatives if I could borrow a car, but when it became clear that would put them out, I rented one. Yes, it was expensive, but it was my problem to deal with. Not my family’s. Not my new job’s. Mine.

I have a hard time believing this person, who does not drive, never leaves the house. She must get out somehow. She wasn’t really all that far from my workplace. She could have walked if she had put her mind to it. She could have taken the bus. Maybe whoever gave her the change for a $40 could have given her a ride. At least we could have met on a day when she was planning to go to the store or something.

Each of us needs help sometimes, and it is my joy and pleasure to provide that help when I am able. I have left my house early and gone out of my way to take an acquaintance to work. I have made quick stops to pick up disabled friends when we were going somewhere. I am happy to do it, and it is my responsibility to make sure I am a generous person and willing to do these things.

However, it is the other person’s responsibility to 1) seek help when needed and, 2) be grateful when it is given. My heart goes out to those friends of mine who suffer from debilitating conditions. I feel real regret that I was not more helpful to my mom toward the end of her life. I do not, however, have sympathy for people who behave as if it is other people’s problem that they have a problem. This is a form of entitlement. We are blessed to live in a country and city where resources are available. The government offers assistance for food and home care, the city offers transportation, stores offer home delivery or quick pick-up service. None of these things are “rights” – they are luxuries and we must be grateful for them.

For the lady on OfferUp today, she got a bad review from me. I saw from her an expectation that I needed to accommodate her limitation and I’m not sure she was grateful that I did. I don’t blame her that I went because I chose to do that, and I take responsibility for my choices. It would be nice if she had done the same.

I Met a Guy

I’ve reached a milestone this fall. I met a guy.

Before everyone gets excited, it’s not going to work out. As a self-identified workaholic, he finally gave me the word that I could make an appointment with him during his work hours but otherwise he would not be available. Bummer.

I have to say that I am very proud of myself for trying. He is a regular at the store where I work and has been catching my eye for months. Sure he is good looking, but that is rarely my MO. Something about him got my attention. I was sure he must be a husband and a father and so I kept looking for him to arrive with other people. Something about him gave off that vibe, but there was never anyone. Even when he wasn’t in my line, I would notice him coming or going. The day I finally asked his name and determined he was not wearing a ring, I decided to try to get to know him.

Even one of my supervisors was in on it. She saw me rubbernecking at him after I had been watching for him all day, only to see him go through a coworker’s line. After that she was in on trying to get me in an express lane to increase my chances of interacting with him, even offering to redirect him to my line if I saw him elsewhere.

  • I finally took things into my own hands and strategically went shopping at a time I expected to see him. I found him in the produce section and casually pretended to look at bananas, then greeted him.

My hopes were up when we chatted for 20 minutes standing there and he left, offering my his business card. I thought he was an IT professional, but learned that night that he is actually a professor of secondary education and psychology at a local college. Everything he was talking about, from teaching techniques to synaptic connections, is utterly fascinating to me. He has a doctorate, for heaven’s sake! Boy did I feel lame as a grocery store cashier.

I carefully followed up, sending an email, waiting a couple days to call him (then learning that my email had gone to his junk box), and letting him respond about getting together, which he did. I was getting the impression that he thought I wanted to talk about going back to college, but at least the door was open. I hoped that we could have a great conversation and I would be honest about my intentions.

Alas, I did get the hint when he was not choosing to text me, even though I gave him my number at a natural opportunity, and he eventually shot straight with me. By this time I realized he wasn’t giving me playful responses and figured we wouldn’t be such a great match.

Regardless, I left the invitation open and I will back off. If he decides to go out in the future, I will take the chance.

I’m okay with the quasi-rejection. Something is awakened, though. I am open. I don’t need a relationship and I’m not going to go hunting for it, but I am amazingly ready to move on. I feel no ties to my past, no need to hold onto pain, and no guilt about moving forward.

Furthermore, this experience has given me an exercise in positive self-talk, so to speak. I have always been put off by the idea of talking myself into thinking I’m worthy, because truth is truth. However, this time I chose to put all that self deprecation aside. I could have hid behind insecurity about my job or my body. It definitely crossed my mind that I have no money and only just finished my bachelor’s degree, in contrast to his doctorate. Instead I pushed forward.

What I realized is that I truly believe I am capable of being the things people see as great. I can get skinny. I am capable of earning a doctorate, if I so choose. I really believe that.

Amazingly, now I am thinking about those things in earnest. Maybe I will go back to school for my Master’s. Maybe I will go back on my diet. The reason I haven’t so far is because I no longer cared about myself. I think I’m regaining my motivation.

And yet, I am content and grateful for the life I do have right now. Who cares if I don’t have money? I have time and family and that is what I would rather have. I’m actually not doing too badly.

Decaying Foot in Grave. Duh

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/decaying-foot-horrifies-grieving-family-bury-grandfather-article-1.3401379

 

Good Lord, I hope this article is fake news. Not because I think it’s horrific (and it would no doubt be disturbing) but because I don’t want to admit that our society is so irrational. Of course there are body parts in a cemetery. It’s a cemetery! Of course the employees acted like this was “just another days’ work”. It is!

Not everything in life is a plot against us. We are not entitled to things working in perfect harmony to make us feel comfortable. We should not sue everyone when things don’t go our way. It’s not about us. Life is messy.

I’m sorry you had a difficult experience. It sucks. It’s unfortunate and maybe you should find someone to help you process it, but at least you have an interesting story to tell.

The Man in my Life

“Auntie, I love you.”

Sometimes I don’t know where to put that little face in my emotions. Those long lashed eyes shine with admiration, glisten with the tears of deep and mature emotion, or glare with mischief. I know he is not “mine”, as a Facebook friend poignantly pointed out recently, and I don’t pretend he is, but he is the little man in my life. He spends more time with me than anyone else and we know each other in ways no one else knows either of us. The urge I have to be wanted is fulfilled in him, manifested in his constant question of “Are you going to stay here and sleep in your room and do school and go to Charlotte’s house?” While he is very loved by many people, I find him fascinating. Every action and milestone means something to me, both from a relative perspective and as an early childhood educator. Teaching him forces me to grow and confront personal issues I want to bury.

Watching him learn and grow validates that I am worth something. This four-year-old nephew is my one companion and my only admirer. Sometimes I feel he is my only friend, though I know he doesn’t know the depths of who I am. Not only is he too young to understand the thoughts and emotional demons I battle, but I protect him from the ugliness that is in there. Besides, he brings out the best in me. I am not his mother, but in him I better understand the constant and annoying reminder I’ve heard in my childcare years of “you’ll feel differently when its your own”. I do love him differently than any other child I’ve cared for and doing so is helping me better understand those past children I did have a hard time loving.

When I look at my life from the outside, I often feel less than. I thought I would have so much more than I do. I thought I would be so much more. I thought I would have my own family, more money, more maturity. Instead, I make just enough to get by, facilitated by two sets of family members who give me room and board for free. I take peanuts (figuratively speaking) from the grocery store where I work and am immediately forgotten by the scores of people who interact with me each day. My deepest conversations are an occasional offloading of ideas with the parents I nanny for or in answering life’s questions in a way a preschooler can understand. I have no real friends to speak of and the thought of finding any exhausts me. Side note: This is not to belittle those who are friends to me, only to articulate that I rarely “hang out” with anyone my own age anymore.

When I was in high school and planning my adult life, I expected to bear my own children and stay home to raise them. I felt inadequate to be responsible for a child’s complete education, but I certainly did not want my children raised by a childcare center or indoctrinated by a school system. I have never been motivated by money and, despite periodic ideas of “when I grow up…”, I never had any career aspirations.

Nothing about my life has turned out as I thought. I didn’t marry the first two men I thought I would marry. When I did marry, I discovered I was not the faithful and godly woman I thought I would be. By that time I had also decided the world was a terrible place for children to live and that I would be a damaging mother. I jumped from job to job, still having no career aspirations, and now having absolutely no direction whatsoever. When my last relationship left me reeling three years ago, I no longer believed there was any purpose for my life.

Now I find that I have never been so content. I didn’t get any of the things I thought I would, and yet I am living some version of them, which might be even better, at least for now. I am staying home to raise a child while still having the freedom to enjoy the inordinate amount of alone time I need to remain mentally functional. I have what I need in the way of money without feeling owned by a job. I have a job I enjoy but can leave at work in order to make life about things that are important to me. I am engaging in my passion to teach and doing it for a little person for whom it will make a lasting impact and who will remain in my life indefinitely. I have found the one place in the universe where I am absolutely irreplaceable.

Next year, he will be in kindergarten and I don’t know what that means for me. Will he go to school and I back to work? Will I continue to teach him? Where will we live?

For now, and for the first time, I am content to not know these answers. I have learned that nothing I plan ever works out quite as I thought it would. While this is not an excuse to be idle – and it is not in my nature to do so – it is an epiphany to be able to curb my tendency to overthink and just to take life as it comes.

I have always thought that happiness was that elated, overjoyed emotion I felt at the beginning of my last relationship which, of course, ended in an equally intense despair. The emotion I have about my life now is stable and even. There are easy days and harder days, of course, but overall I am confident I am in the right place, and I am so very grateful for this opportunity for now.

 

Train a Child’s Emotions

Emotions are overwhelming. I am someone who feels emotions intensely. My joy runs over and my despair threatens to drown me. My fluctuations have caused it to be very hard to maintain any sort of relationship and, sometimes, even to remain functional.

As I work with children, it can be difficult to have compassion for their emotions. After all, compared to the death of a parent or the pressures of making ends meet, sharing blocks that aren’t even yours seems petty. Having to eat green beans or being refused hot chocolate is nothing when there are starving children in Africa. Having a splinter removed is pleasant compared to soldiers being tortured in foreign countries.

Children in the US (in general), and hopefully most children, have no idea what awaits them in adulthood. Even those who are born into more difficult situations are instilled with a a positive outlook and playful nature, if for no other reason than they don’t yet grasp what life involves.

Could you imagine if they did? Could you imagine being newly born and having to carry the weight of the stress of making a living? Can you fathom the burden of your first moments involving feeling the full grief of losing a parent? How would children ever learn to do anything if they feared the possibilities of injuries?

Unfortunately, there are children who end up dealing with these bigger things much earlier than they should have to, and it causes them damage, even when they cannot yet fully understand what is happening. Maybe especially so. In general, however, children are not meant to bear the full weight of life. They are given the task of learning to handle the smaller things, like sharing blocks, before they have to make sense of the bigger things, like being refused a job when they are desperate for money. Baby steps are necessary emotionally as well as physically.

As parents and caregivers, it is our job to prepare children for the rest of their lives. Children are not trophies to show off, or pets to dote on and admire, nor are they burdens to resent. Children are future adults and we are shaping them into the people they need to be.

When it comes to children’s emotions, it is easy to brush them off as petty or unimportant. Alternatively, it is easy to write off bad behavior as childish. However, how a child learns to deal with the minor (relatively) stuff now will feed into how they deal with the major stuff later.  It is true that children come with their own personalities. Each one responds to situations differently and each one responds to different forms of discipline differently. As parents and caregivers, the challenge is to learn who each child is and to use his or her personality to help him or her become a kind, compassionate, humble, and hardworking member of society. The expectations of obedience apply to every child, though the road to get there is different for every one.

As parents and caregivers, we need to take seriously the emotions a child is feeling. Being refused brand name toys might seem petty, but that child might very well be feeling the same despair that an adult feels when they can’t afford the latest smartphone. When Johnny won’t let Billy play, it is easy to say “Go play with someone else” but we adults can relate to the torment of being betrayed by a friend. In hindsight, we realize these childish situations are not the end of the world, but these emotions are precursors to the real things in life. Learning to enjoy what you have and to hear the word “no” with grace prepares a child to be content as adults. Learning to wait for and work for things they want prepares a child to be self sufficient adults and, hopefully, financially wise. Learning to choose friends wisely and be content alone develops confidence.

This message is not to say that we should give children everything they want. It is not to say that we should coddle every tantrum. On the contrary, we must empathize with the emotion that child is feeling and direct it. Give the emotion a name, an explanation, and a solution. Have a conversation. Accept it as valid. Expect proper behavior and be persistent in guiding a child in developing it. A temper tantrum now, if accepted instead of corrected, could become a bar fight later. Or maybe not. Above all, always keep in mind that your child is a person and every experience influences who he or she will become.

*If you are a reader, please leave a comment below. It helps me know someone is reading.*

Thank You

Thank you, everyone, who reached out to me after my recent blog post about my former boyfriend. I feel like I have turned a corner. I won’t say it won’t hurt again sometimes. Honestly, I’m hesitant to write this because I don’t know that I want to let go. Moving on from this isn’t something I ever intended to do.

I have known all along that my real struggle in this break up was not really about the guy. It was always about me and about God. This guy seemed to be so perfect. Not that he was a perfect person, but that he so perfectly encompassed everything I had asked God for. When I met him, I was done searching for a spouse. I was even on the cusp of accepting that I might never be married. I didn’t know if my singleness would be a consequence of having gotten divorced — I struggled with that and, while I did not feel punished by God, I know it might not be in the plan for me. I told God, “If you want to bring me someone, I will know it is from you if (A, B, C).” Then I met this guy and everything fell into place. I spent every single day thankful that God loved me enough to give me something I did not deserve. Yes, I loved this guy, but even more I saw this relationship as proof that God really loved me. It was just too perfect.

I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe I screwed it up. Probably I did. Certainly my former sins and addictions came flooding back. I felt myself grasping. I had found such a profound love for Jesus before that relationship that I was terrified I was losing it in the wake of these familiar temptations.

Maybe I sabotaged it. I was certain that if he truly came to know the emotional roller coaster I am, he would turn tail. Actually, that is exactly what happened. He was always kind to me in the relationship, but I now can see exactly when his feelings changed. He was honest about that when I asked him; that he doubted me. Honestly, the change in his attitude toward me want really about me, but it broke what we started with.

One remarkable thing about this relationship is that, while I know where I failed and maybe even sabotaged, and perhaps my underlying reason was flawed, I broke it off out of love for him. I didn’t feel worthy of him. He is so talented and desirable and popular. He expressed desire to become a missionary. When I began to question the very core of my worth, and felt completely unable to be valuable as a missionary, I ended the relationship because I truly thought he would be better off without me. I wanted him to have everything he wanted in life, and I was convinced I couldn’t give it to him.

I was hoping he would tell me all the reasons I was wrong. I wanted him to see in me that I was the one he needed and that I was valuable to achieve everything he envisioned for his life. The first few days after the breakup, when we were still in limbo, I went searching for these answers. I talked to the missionary organization he wanted to work with and I talked to valued friends. These inquiries gave me hope that the person I am is actually capable of being valuable. Missions need managers. INTJ personalities can be loved. I was able to go back to him with confidence that I could provide value.

This past week, the thing I needed most to hear was someone else saying that he was never what I thought he was. If he was truly the kind and godly man I thought he was, he would never have become threatening to me. Even though he was always good to me in our relationship, within days he was finished with me. He was cold and unforgiving. Though he told me “We should keep talking” and “We can consider getting back together in a couple months” and “I need some space”, he didn’t look back. I wept every single day for months and kept my distance to respect his space, all while he was changing the locks on his house and moving on to a new relationship. The realization that everything he had said – the things I took as hopeful promises – were deceitful broke me. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to live without it. And when I returned his house key, he threatened to issue a restraining order against me. All those months of restraining myself from contacting him were completely overlooked as I was assumed to be overstepping.

I saw hints of that in him before. Minor instances where I thought his reaction to someone’s bad behavior was less than gracious. Times he rejected his parents’ phone calls because he didn’t want to be bothered. I wondered if a day would come that he would do that to me. I even warned him not to let himself become closed to me. Yet, he did, much sooner than I anticipated.

I needed someone else to point out that he isn’t really the kind of person I wanted. Not the person I thought. Maybe not the kind of person who can achieve what he claims to want, even though he has so much that is desirable. I needed to realize that it wasn’t all me.

These words don’t mean that my realizations about myself aren’t true. These words don’t mean that I look poorly at him. I still wish he was what I thought. I still want the story we had. I still don’t know if I want to go through this again. I still don’t know if I’ll ever have anyone else. One thing I have embraced, though, is that I can still have our story, even if it is only on paper. That is one thing that belongs to me and can’t be taken away and it is something I am working on putting down.

In the mean time, thank you to everyone to reached out to encourage me and those who have allowed me to resume my past relationships even though it has taken me so long to return to the land of the living.

_______________________________________________________________________

*If you are a reader, please leave a comment below. It helps me know someone is reading.*

Megan

Sometimes I imagine my relationship with my dog from an outside perspective. As I move about my day, I am often oblivious to the comical sight we must be at times. I imagine a movie producer filming us for a comedy with a light and cheerful staccato playing over the scene as I cross the hall to my room, then to the bathroom with an armful of clothes, then back to the room where I forgot something, all with my little dachshund-pomeranian trailing behind me.

I call her to join me in the bathroom because I want her to be emotionally satisfied. It is not narcissistic for me to realize that I am her world. Besides eat, sleep, and scratch, her entire existence revolves around being my companion and receiving companionship from me. With all the hours I must be away from her for work, play, errands, and chores, giving her every moment I can is a selfless thing to do.

Of course, I benefit as well. There is no one else in the world who dotes on me the way she does, even though her way of doting on me is by letting me pet her. No one else sits longingly by the gate, waiting for me to return home. No one else shivers with excitement when I walk in the door. To her, I am The One.

It is common for me to lament the realization that I am dispensable. If ever there was a social misfit, I am it (even though I’m pretty good at pretending otherwise). One thing Megan gives me is the satisfaction of being irreplaceable. If letting her be near me is a way to express that I appreciate that, giving her that is a humble honor.

*If you are a reader, please leave a comment below. It helps me know someone is reading.*
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Seeds Sown

I am the last person who expected to be posting a story like this. For the last three years I have struggled with God, even going so far as to believe that maybe I’m not chosen. I still don’t feel certain of that. However, since I have begun caring for and homeschooling my nephew, I realized I needed to incorporate spiritual education into his life. I didn’t feel comfortable dealing with Biblical concepts, but at least I already know that stuff. He doesn’t and he never will if someone doesn’t teach him. We started with John 3:16 and I have been trying to determine which verses to teach him, realizing that I felt lost in deciding. All the Scripture memory I had done in my childhood felt faded. In a way I dreaded having to revisit it, knowing it would hurt.

In 2004 I was working in a childcare center in Kent, WA. When The Passion of the Christ movie came out I took one of my coworkers to see it, after which we had a discussion and she prayed with me to receive Jesus Christ as her Savior. We held Bible studies during childcare naptime until that coworker finally told me she wasn’t interested after all. I was devastated. I’d had other situations like that where I led someone to Christ only to watch them fizzle out. I was beginning to feel like it was all a joke. If God was really working through me, why wasn’t any of my effort doing any good?

I left that job in 2005 but saw that coworker at least once since then, talking to her on Facebook a couple times. I would categorize her as a “good person” but I didn’t see any lasting change in her life as she went on to live with and have another child with a man she was not married to.

A couple weeks ago, after leaving my cashier job, I discovered a Facebook message from this former coworker. She has been having panic attacks and had been seeing videos about this Planet X, Niburu, which supposedly is ushering in the end times beginning on September 23, 2017. This was causing her more anxiety as, she admitted, she didn’t know what would happen to her and her family if the world did end.

Long story short(er), I looked at one of the videos and didn’t find it too reputable. I encouraged her to research everything she sees and told her that Jesus said no one knows when He will return. Because of this, if anyone claims to know exactly when the world will end, I categorically don’t believe it because the Bible says no one can know. However, Jesus does say to always be ready.

She continued asking questions, mainly how to be ready. Though the conversation started with questions about the end times, it was very natural to bring it around to the heart of the matter, which is that our world is fallen and passing away, that we are all affected by sin – both those we cause and those others cause, as well as the general fallenness of the world – and that God sent Jesus to die for us to allow us to be with Him one day. 

And all those Bible verses I learned in Awana and school came flooding back. I used my trusty online Bible for some of it, but I was amazed how most of them just came flowing out. I also love how the conversation centered on God’s love and grace. Though we dealt with issues of sin and judgment and what hell is, I feel confident that the tone was not “turn or burn”. I know there is truth to God’s judgment and punishment and we live in a culture that is not okay with that. However, heaven and hell are really about either being with God or being apart from God. I have experienced my own intense feelings of anxiety, depression, despair, loneliness, and rejection and I suspect this is a taste of what hell will be like. Conversely, being with God is the opposite of those things. “Being ready” is about being in a relationship with Jesus and learning how to be more like Him, not out of obligation to earn our way to being good enough, but out of gratitude that Jesus paid for our sins when there was no way we could satisfy God’s judgment.

I directly asked her if she was ready to ask Jesus to be her Savior and, though I didn’t give her a script, told her how to tell Jesus that. I left it at that because I want her relationship with Jesus to be between her and him, not between her and me. 

When we ended the conversation she told me she felt a lot better and that she believed God had told her to message me specifically. She actually said, “I knew I could count on you, of all people”. 

I’m amazed that these seeds planted 13 years ago, which felt like they had become weeds, are turning into something. I’m so grateful that she views me as someone she can come to with these questions, and I am satisfied that the study and memorization I put so much effort into has served its purpose. I have had many conversations like this where I am sure I did not do so well, even alienating some people and even starting a near riot in my 10th grate algebra class! We try and fail but it all amounts to practice, I suppose.

In addition, this is not the first time God has brought someone to me at a time when I did not want to talk about Him. Here I am feeling sorry for myself and questioning everything I have ever believed and then God says, “Here. This person needs the gospel.” Maybe it’s a good sign that when push comes to shove I have taken the opportunities presented. I’m sure it’s also a testament to how God is the One doing the work because I certainly am not the poster child right now. 

I hope to encourage anyone reading to equip yourself with the tools. Do the study, memorize the verses. It helps yourself, of course. However, when the time comes, the tools are actually for God to use, not just us.

Entitlement

It’s great to work with people who don’t feel entitled. As a cashier, I get a wide range of people on the entitled spectrum. The funny thing is that the people who act the most entitled, and have the least gracious attitudes, are the ones who are already being given everything. You know the type. They are usually on some government assistance program and then have a fit about the price of something, or snottily demand I remove the paper bag fee from their purchase. That’s something I don’t understand. The government (read: taxpayers like me) is paying for all their groceries, why do they get paper bags for free, too?

The truth is that sometimes a person IS entitled to something. For example, we live in a culture where law mandates that a customer is entitled to an advertised price. This prevents sellers from leading a customer to believe they are getting a certain thing for a certain price, and then arbitrarily changing the agreement without consent from the other party, thus trapping a customer into paying for something they don’t want. In this case, the customer would be entitled to something and would have recourse if they were being cheated. Such is the case at the store where I work. If a price is on the shelf or in the ad, the customer gets that price. Furthermore, our store chooses to “make it right” in many cases, giving the customer the benefit of the doubt rather than disappointing the customer and/or wasting time arguing about it.

However, it is possible, and definitely preferable, for someone to have an attitude of gratitude, even when they are entitled to something. The fact of the matter is that even though that person could argue that they don’t have to say thank you when they are only getting “what they deserve”, being grateful anyway is actually expressing an attitude of gratitude for the kind of society in which we live. In other places of the world, and other times in history, the kinds of benefits and protections we now have did not exist. People were or are regularly cheated out of their own possessions or forced into situation they don’t desire and with no power to stop it. For the most part, that does not happen in “progressive” and often “Western” society. We have rights and protections and reasonable expectations that we get what we pay for and, very often, what we want.

It is for this reason, that gratitude, as opposed to an attitude of entitlement, is actually an acknowledgement that we are at the mercy of some higher power, which I believe to be God but others might see as karma or the universe or some other form of power. We could have been born somewhere else or at another time when life worked differently. Instead, we find ourselves here and now, enjoying the benefits and protections we have. We could have had life much worse. Instead, it behooves us to be grateful to the One who allowed us to be living in the situation we are now in.

Next time you find yourself feeling entitled or belligerent about were you find yourself, remember what you do have. Take the action you need to take to right any wrongs you experience, but do so with an attitude of gratitude for both what you do have and what you are able to accomplish by appealing to the entitled blessings you have.

*If you are a reader, please leave a comment below. It helps me know someone is reading.*