Saturday, September 30, 2006

To Tell the Truth

I can't believe it! Someone finally told me the truth today!

I was at the grocery store with my kids. There were two strikes going against this shopping trip right off the bat. Not only did I have to take all three kids with me, but it was Saturday morning. That pairing just isn't a winning combination. But it was necessary, so I did it.

Our first task was to select a birthday present for one of Matthew's friends. Matthew's indecision and his incredible inability to stay focused made this task a very long one. Eventually we settled on a Superman doll that comes with Clark Kent clothes, hair and glasses. I'm not sure how excited his friend is going to be, but Matthew sure likes it!

Having spent a good half hour in the toy section, I was ready to move on. The only other thing we needed to do was get a few groceries and make our way home. In theory, this portion of the trip could have been accomplished in 15 minutes or less. But we live in reality, not theory(Does anyone know where "Theory" is? Things seem so much easier there. I think I'd like to visit sometime!), and in reality Matthew was insisting that I let him push the grocery cart. Remember, I said this was Saturday morning. The store was crowded. Matthew isn't tall enough to see over the top of the cart. I really didn't want him plowing into other shoppers, so I said, "No." He started making a fuss, I started feeling like I was making a big deal out of nothing, and he said, "Can't you just hold on to the cart with your hand?" That sounded reasonable to me, so I agreed. Even with my hand on the cart, he was a wreckless driver and that idea, which probably would've worked in Theory didn't go over so well in reality.

Then Matthew and Joshua got into an argument in the middle of the store about whether or not Matthew owed Joshua 50 cents for the candy bar Joshua gave him a couple weeks ago. With a little assistance, they reached a resolution and Joshua ran off with Elizabeth to spend that 50 cents. Matthew suddenly became too tired to walk, so I hoisted him up into the cart and we went on our way. Moments later Elizabeth and Joshua returned and Matthew had enough energy to walk again, so I got him down. My mistake. The boys started in on the fighting again, complete with shoving and tripping. Joshua is too big to sit in the cart, and since Matthew seemed to be the instigator I swooped him up and put him back in the cart. Silly me to think that would keep them from bothering each other. It just kept going.

Certainly the fact that I was tired didn't help my attitude about this little trip to the store, but I couldn't help but wonder why I didn't try harder to find a way to come by myself. But I hadn't, and I needed to get through it. Honestly, I began to think, "Who am I to be talking to women about God using the hard times in our lives to transform us? Look at me, so bent out of shape by a simple trip to the store!" He is so gracious, using an otherwise self-condemning thought to remind me to trust Him. So I began to pray - for my own growth in holiness, and for my kids. And for a few minutes, I was peaceful.

Then we got to the check out line, and the, "Can I have...?" questions started flying. But we made it through without adding anything to the cart. Making our way out to the van, we had to stop so everyone could ride the penny horse. It was there standing in the entrance to the store, saying "no" to gumballs and candy, that an older woman finally told me the truth!

As we were waiting for Matthew to finish his ride, two women walked into the store - I'm guessing a woman and her mother, probably in their 50's and 70's. They looked at me kindly and I just smiled my weary smile and admitted, "I'm so tired." The younger of the two said, in a sympathetic tone, "Ah yes, I remember those days." I looked at her and said, "Really? Most women tell me I'm going to miss these days!" She just gave me a knowing smile and repeated, "Oh, no. I remember those days."

I'll probably never see that woman again. Truthfully, I probably wouldn't recognize her if I did see her. But in that brief exchange, God used a total stranger to bring comfort to my weary soul. He sent someone to say, "I understand. You aren't alone. I've been there and made it through, and you will, too." And I put the groceries into the van with a smile on my face, thinking, "Yes, these are difficult days, and I will make it through them, and thank God He's using them to make me into the woman He wants me to be!"

1 comment:

Cara Putman said...

Hi, Karen. Just got the letter from Brian with the bookmark. I posted something about the blog and book on my blog. carasmusings.blogspot. com