So I found myself at the grocery store the other day, chatting with the cashier as she was ringing up my items at the register. Another customer had just left, and the cashier – we’ll call her Stella, since I don’t remember her name – was quite hot around the collar (and I mean that figuratively, as Stella was wearing a collar-less shirt).
But I digress.
I was concerned, so I gently asked Stella what had happened. She then went on to say how the prior customer had gotten quite upset with her for no particular reason, and was rather salty with her words.
Assuming this was an infrequent occurrence, I asked Stella if most customers were pleasant or like the lady who had just departed. Her answer shouldn’t have surprised me: while most people were pleasant, the ones who were unkind were really quite harsh. Mean, even.
I was wide-eyed at this point, as I simply could not fathom how blowing up at someone for something quite inconsequential could ever be a useful life strategy. Goodness gracious – if the store ran out of quinoa for some reason, then accept this reality and move on!
Of course, I had no idea whether the other woman who preceded me was upset about missing quinoa or some other matter, so I decided to keep my thoughts to myself (as an aside, there was an item that I had been looking for myself, but I wasn’t able to find it. I reckoned that it would be best not to mention it).
Stella went on to say that she held another part-time job, and that some customers there had been a little bit difficult and impatient there as well. Sadly, I had to admit that her observations were neither unique nor surprising, and I told her as much. We both were quiet for a moment, no doubt wondering silently, “Why are people behaving this way?”
Anyway, after Stella finished bagging up my groceries and I paid the bill, I thanked her by name (I remembered it that day, but am not recalling it now!) and then headed home.
Overall, the whole interaction got me thinking: where is the love?
People sure seem to be stressed out over trivial things, don’t you think? One thing goes wrong, and they throw tantrums that would put any toddler out there to shame. It’s as if they think that by getting angry and raising their voices, that the outcome will somehow be different. And if that particular approach doesn’t work for a two-year-old, why on earth would we assume that we would find success with it as adults?
Later in the week, I came across this verse from Ephesians 5, and I was reminded that we are called to behave in a different way. Particularly, as Christ followers, our behaviors, words, and thoughts should be characterized by love and gratitude. However, whether you believe in Jesus or not, how could showing respect and kindness for another person ever be a losing strategy?
Indeed, I like this verse because it reminds me that love is not only an emotion – it is action. Note that the verse encourages us to “walk in love,” and not simply stand or sit in it! Walking implies deliberate action and forward progress, and is an ongoing thing. And shouldn’t our loving behaviors toward others be characterized in similar terms?💡