Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Checkout Lines

Normally my husband picks up dog food on the way home from work.  But somehow he didn't and we needed it so yesterday before dinner I decided that I would go.  Our 11 year old daughter asked to tag along. 

I'm giving you this terribly boring introduction because it often seems that when I find myself doing something unusual, something unusual ends up finding me.  So this was unusual and yes, it became more unusual.

My enormous belly preceded me, of course, at the cash register.  The cashier smiled as she scanned our purchase.  "Boy, I can't wait for August...." to which I replied, with a quick glance outside at the terribly frozen, snow-covered parking lot, "Tell me about it."

"Oh, not because of that.  My daughter's baby is due in August!"

"Isn't that lovely?" I thought.  She was more excited about meeting her grandchild than about the summer weather! But before the happy words could find their way out of my mouth, she continued with:

"Yeah.  I can't WAIT for her to go through that pain."

My face must have showed the horror that welled up so quickly in my heart because she couldn't stop. 

"I mean...she did exactly what I told her not to do, and now she's pregnant at 18."

Deep breath.  Forced smile.

"Well, I was born when my mother was 17," I offered, "so maybe it will all work out great!"

"The thing is...."  And that's when I stopped being able to listen.  It's strange how thoughts can seem to exist outside of time, like a thousand points of light, each one behind the other.  From one angle it's there's only a single pin prick, but look at them from the side and a lifetime of emotions and events is all there at once.

And for me that endless row of lights included my own baby, happily unaware, safe inside his warm home.  My daughter, standing beside me, hands thrust deep into the pockets of her winter coat, eyes fixed firmly on the floor.  My mother, younger then than this woman's daughter is now. This woman's daughter, shouldering all that goes along with an unplanned teen pregnancy.  The loneliness that must come from being treated as a Mistake Maker who deserves to be punished with physical pain even after choosing life for her unborn baby.

I knew as we trudged out to the van that I should find a way to pray for that cashier, but at the time I could only manage prayers for her daughter.  Prayers that between now and August, the edge of fear and anger that her mother is feeling now is dulled, softened, so she can endure labor feeling warmth and love and not vindictive satisfaction. 


Today we went to the grocery store, the six of us home-stayers plus the burgeoning belly.  While we were in the checkout line Paul told me he needed a tissues.  "So do I, buddy...." I said as I fumbled through my purse to no avail.  And then the girl behind me opened up a box of kleenex that she was about to buy, smiled, and handed some to me and to my little boy.  She had a crocheted hat on and burgundy Ugg boots.  I wanted to hug her.

It was such a small gesture, so unabashedly kind.  Her eyes sparkled.  When I said "Thank you so much!" she responded "Yeah, for sure!"

There was a sweetness in the air.


And now I know what to pray for the lady at the farm supply store.  I pray she finds kindness.  That someone is kind to her and it warms her heart.  That the kindness she sees multiplies inside her so she can start sharing that same kindness with others.  I pray she finds her own kleenex lady and she hugs her daughter and she tells her everything is going to be okay.

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  1. Oh wow. Not sure what I would have said. If someone ever told me they did not want their child I would love to tell them we would adopt that child. *Idealist*

  2. Oh wow. I'm not sure I could have kept my mouth shut on that one! Wow.

  3. Can you pass one of those over here?? ;) Beautiful resolution. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yeah, I'll take a kleenex now too, please.

  5. Seriously with Jenny. Need a tissue and will definitely say a prayer tonight for the new mother/grandmother-to-be.

  6. It's the little kindnesses that can change the world. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wow is right!
    As I was reading I wanted to print out your post and get it to the cashier somehow for my own sort of "vindictive satisfaction."
    But, this post is written so beautifully and it made me realize that this woman needs as much love showered on her as the daughter does. Luckily, you probably have all of your readers praying for them now.

  8. Shocked! Not only that she could think that about her own daughter, but that she would share that with a total stranger at the grocery store. A pregnant stranger. Wow. I will be sure to say a prayer for her and her daughter as well.

  9. Prayer campaign. Nicely done, Dwija. Accidental genius (or is that incidental?) has struck again. Pray on, good warrior. Pray on.

  10. No wonder it took you some time to process before sharing. I am so glad you received that act of kindness put things right. Loved your insights. Thx for sharing!

  11. This woman has to be in a shock/distressed/angry mode. So much so that she can't see straight. But, honestly this is the product of a culture that does not value life, purity, or true love. It has been fed to women for years.

    Right now she sees her grandbaby as a burden not a gift. So sad, but his can change though. Pray for her heart to soften. When that baby is born, she will see a reflection of her own life. A gift in a small package and her heart will soften.

    You know, the 40 Days for LIfe campaign is just around the corner. A perfect time to offer our prayers for those struggling in all stages of pregnancy. Thank God this young mother has chosen right, life for her baby. Her mom will come around.

  12. Oh, that poor little family. I feel for all of them—grandmother, mother, and child.

    We all have a golden opportunity here. The mother is about three months along, right? So she can't have known about the pregnancy very long, and her mother probably has known about it even less time. Maybe Dog Food Day was the very first day that she knew. So she was still shocked and upset. Let's pray that she does a 180 long before the baby is born. God has done tougher things than that. God, please bless that little family. Shower them with your love. Hold their hands. Wipe their tears. Help them to love each other. Thank you, Lord.

  13. I'll be praying for the cashier and her daughter right along with you!

  14. Thank you for sharing this. It really spoke to me. kindness is so very important in changing hearts.

  15. I've always been surprised at the amount of humanity (the good and the bad) that happens in the check-out line. Thanks for sharing these stories.

  16. Really, really beautiful. (Just about made this pregnant lady cry.) Thanks for sharing.

  17. Wow. Good, good stuff. The sermon at my church on Sunday was on kindness from Colossians 3:12. Funny how stuff keeps popping up sometimes... I hope I'm listening, and obeying what God is trying to tell me!

  18. Beautiful blog entry today. Thanks.

  19. Beautifully written, and I truly hope that woman finds it in her heart to truly love her daughter and grandchild. I also love the reminder that simple kindnesses can makes someone's day.

  20. Yes. A prayer for her to find kindness.


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