It’s no better on the employee end of things. Excited about the store’s coming new look and motivated to help the shoppers any way we can, the work week started off on a good note. But the continued customer dismay has worn everybody down. Anybody walking around with a blue company shirt on is a target for the shopper’s rage, and managers and assistants alike groan when they hear their names called to the front of the store for “customer service”. The pep in our step long gone, we now drag our way through the building, pasting a smile on our faces and trying our best to help the customers find what they need.
A people person by nature, I was initially delighted when I was assigned to be one of the roving clerks moving about the store assisting shoppers. A hard hat on my head, construction vest crossed by a black sash with the word INFORMATION splashed boldly across it, I set out with the list of relocated items in one hand and a basket of candy with which to mollify people in the other. By the end of the week my hard hat was long gone, I’d abandoned the vest, and the sash slipping continually off my shoulder prompted one person to tell me I looked like a drunken prom queen walking the aisles. I knew then that my struggle to keep my patience with irate patrons was beginning to show.
Thankfully God didn’t wait for me to bring the matter to His attention before He stepped in to act. Repeatedly and with impeccable timing He placed images in front of me that delighted or encouraged me. I looked up once just in time to see a little boy of 5 years old or so walk up to the display of baseball paraphernalia, pick up a stuffed doll of one of the players, hug it tightly to his chest, kiss it lightly on his cheek, and set it back down before following his parents on down the aisle. Knowing he was too young to know which player had that number stamped across his stuffed chest, I realized that moment of sweetness was really from God to me, and accepted it with joy in the toy’s place.
While I was working a register on a break from walking the store one day, the customer in front of me was suddenly moved to tears by the sight of my bagger working away as best he could despite his disabilities, a smile on his face and ever anxious to please. Too choked up to explain his emotion, we both understood God's reminder that our lives are simply blessed beyond measure, and the little irritation that comes with a store reset is nothing to complain about in the grand scheme of things. And repeatedly in recent days I’d look up to find one or another of my particular friends standing in front of me to chat and laugh for a minute as they made their way through the store, bursts of sudden sunlight in a temporarily darkened world. Later when frustration would set in again I’d go back to those moments and be encouraged and inspired all over again, as God intended.
The store remodel will be over in a matter of weeks, the new location of items committed to memory after that in just a matter of days. The important thing to keep in mind is the wonderful realization that the love and mercies of God never come to an end, but are new with every dawn to help us carry on with whatever we’re called to do in a manner worthy of Him.
“…be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper]. See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody. Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always)”
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)