I went to the grocery store last week and headed to the checkout with a full basket. There was only one lane open so I read the headlines of the gossip magazines as I waited (not so patiently) for my turn. When it came time for me to start unloading my goods on to the belt I overheard the cashier talking to the person in front of me about the crazy people who use lots of coupons. He said confidently that these people want to get their food for free and that they will argue with him endlessly about whether or not their item purchased matches the requirements on the coupon. The customer he was talking to was just laughing and made some off the cuff remark about her time being too precious to cut all of those out. They gave each other a toothy grin and she was off.
It was now my turn and I greeted the cashier as he rapidly scanned my items. You could see that his stress level was up since the line had grown and there were four or five people waiting behind me. He obviously was not in the mood for small talk anymore and kept his focus solely on getting me out of there as fast as possible. His plan worked well until I pulled out my coupon gun, fully loaded! You see, I LOVE coupons. I actually find great pleasure in knowing that I got a particular item cheaper than the guy behind me. There is a sense of great satisfaction when you save more than you spend! When I first started out I was always a little timid and insecure as I handed the cashier my ammo, but not anymore! I handed them over with a grin that matched the one he shared with his previous customer. He gave me a frustrated look that almost asked, “are you serious?” He then laid my coupons down, walked away from his register to the end of the line and began apologizing to all of the other customers. He told them that their wait would be a little longer because he was having to scan my coupons. He walked back to his station and reluctantly finished checking me out. When he was finished he looked at the bottom of my receipt and told me I had saved $84.50 on my groceries. Knowing I had just swiped my card for a mere $62.00 I took my receipt and almost skipped out of the store.
As I was unloading my bags into my car I thought about how the cashier had made such a big deal out of my coupons. It wasn’t enough that he rolled his eyes into the back of his head, he had to make an announcement about his feelings. Nobody in the line seemed to mind that I was saving some extra dough, he was the only one upset about it! I realize that this does slightly complicate his job, and I understand his stress level knowing that he has been trained to get the customers through the line as quickly as possible. I just had a hard time processing why he had to make a production out of it…it literally took him less than a minute to scan them.
As I drove home I realized that I often do the same thing. I may be running my fingers across the keyboard or reading a book and one of my kids will want a drink. It really isn’t a big deal, it only takes me a few seconds to get up and help them, but because it is not what I want to be doing I get frustrated. I do this in various situations all the time. When it boils down to it I want to do what I want and I don’t want to have to make adjustments in order to accommodate people. I teach my kids about not being selfish all the time and yet I am the master at it. I am just like my little cashier friend. I may not make a statement to everyone else around me but inwardly I am thinking, “why can’t I just sit for five minutes without somebody needing something.” Is there anything more selfish? Sure I need a break from time to time but that doesn’t justify all the feelings that are waging war inside of me. When I allow myself to ponder on the selfish thoughts I become resentful and irritable. Does any of this bring about good? My job is to take those thoughts captive and focus on the things that will honor God and not feed my selfish ambitions!
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8