Have you ever stood behind somebody in line who was making a big fuss?
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of standing within shouting distance of somebody in the grocery store who, I have to admit, was delivering an impressive dressing-down of not just the grocery store she happened to be in, but the larger corporate entity that made up the grocery store chain. She clearly came to fight.
Now I say it was “impressive,” but it was impressive in the way that a giant wave is impressive as it’s about to crash onto a boat in the atlantic. It’s impressive… as long as you’re not on the boat. Angry Lady, who stood all of 5 feet tall, was about to crash down on whatever and whoever stood in her way.
Thankfully, I wasn’t in her way… but a very sweet lady was. She stood behind the register, unphased, with a warm smile that conveyed “I hear you” and “we will fix this.” The whole issue at hand was due to the total being higher than Angry Lady had expected. If I recall correctly, there was a miscommunication on some sort of “ever-loving discount deal” (words have been changed to make this blog post family friendly).
"No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4:12
There isn’t a magical “and then a friendly old man paid for the entire thing”ending to this. Angry Lady stayed angry, she left angry, she got into her car angry, and she probably drove home angry. However, there is an example of God’s love in this: the calm, understanding, and caring demeanor of the cashier.
Through the entire interaction, this woman did her best to make Angry Lady feel heard. She kept her composure, empathized, and did everything within her limited power to help. In spite of all this, she was still on the receiving end of a punishment she didn’t deserve… but it was as clear as day: she was forgiving of behavior she knew would never be apologized for.
I saw first hand the importance of following 1 John 4:12. When we extend love to others, everyone who witnesses it catches a glimpse of God’s love. The cashier’s mission wasn’t to evangelize to a 24 year old dude in line. I wasn’t even on her radar until after the whole scene had ended. However, she reminded me of God’s never ending patience in my life when I throw my own temper tantrums. She was extending a kind of grace that can’t help but be noticed. She was the voice of peace in the middle of the storm.
We will all encounter moments where it’s hard to extend love-but I can assure you it is so worth it. Here’s a radical idea: let’s love each other. The world is watching, and the world desperately needs an example of God’s love every day, don’t you think?