Love Everybody

My boss says that people like to take out their wrath on the cashier. Wanting to get back at someone or something, customers lash out at the cashier, knowing that she cannot say a rude word back.

Throughout this summer, people have certainly taken out their wrath on me. From their opinions on taxes and prices that I don’t even make to things that are unfair in their life or the way I obviously do my job wrong, in their opinion. I listen to it all, silently, smiling if I can, trying to hold my own anger in.

That makes it hard, as you can imagine, to love everybody.

Yet as a cashier in a Thrift Store, I’ve realized, that I am in a great spot to love others. I see my job not just as the facilitator of Thrift Store purchases, but also as a giver of grace.

People come to the store, broken, disfigured, poor, addicted, angry, upset, ruined, desperate. Others come clean, happy, put together, pouring money from their pockets. But its my job, I feel, to judge each person in the same way. To give grace to every person who walks in the door. Its my job to forget the past of each customer and treat them as if I’ve never seen them before. This is grace in the Thrift Store.

I’ve been reading an eye-opening book called unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. It illustrates what people outside the church think of Christians. And it isn’t pretty. We’re viewed as hypocritical, pushy, sheltered, anti-homosexual, too political, and judgmental. There is barely a scrape of grace or love in us from the “outsiders'” perspectives.

This book has shown me how much we, as Christians, need to be grace givers and lovers of all people.

The store has shown me what it looks like in action. It is a difficult, if not impossible task on some days. People are rude, selfish, uncaring, trashy, quick to make judgments, unthinking. Many people are not receptive, they do not understand or try to understand.

And so I come home from a long couple of days of dealing with the public and I lash out on them in the comfort of my own home, at last. How dare they? Why do they do what they do? If only they could just ____!

But I am not asking the right questions. I am judgmental. I should ask, instead: who are they? and who are they loved by? and who am I to judge?

Because the truth is, the people who hassle me all day long are children loved and created by God. And I am just the same as them. I can be all of those things I said they were and more. I am no judge. But I am loved like they are — we are all loved together — by the same God who made the heavens and the earth.

So I try, again and again and again. For the umpteenth time. I try to remember grace and forgive others and love them for who they are, forgetting what they do.

And the people who are so clean and happy may be just as broken on the inside. Because I know that I am, too. I need grace and I need love just as much as the customers.

So love everybody. That’s what I’ve learned this summer.

Forgive and give grace because we have a God who is the author of that.

Love the world. Offer grace to people, too, even if they don’t accept it.

Because this is what it means to be like Christ.

The Cracks & Crannies

Sometimes, it’s hard to see because its too dark. And we cannot hear because its too noisy.

But then, when the blindfold comes off and our ears listen carefully, we can see and hear into places we never thought of before. The darkness is revealed and we see, though dimly, the things we never expected or dreamed of seeing before. Suddenly, the cracks and crannies of life are revealed.

I’ve been seeing there lately. I didn’t expect to come to this place nor did I know it ever existed. I did not really mean to get here, but now, here I am. I’m seeing a bit of the dustiness, the messiness, and the dirt of life.

It is easy to look down on others for whatever–their drug addiction, the smell of smoke on their breath, the way that they limp, or even the holes in their clothes. It is easy to pity them and wonder how they got there. It is easy to dislike them or wrinkle your noise at the strange smell. I know I have been there and done that a thousand times, if only because I didn’t know what else to do.

But that was when I was on the surface. I could only see the surface–the hallow look, holes, the cigarette buts, and the limp. I couldn’t see past it, though I tried.

I’ve spent this summer working as a cashier in a Thrift store. You meet all kinds in there. It’s really an interesting little place for a writer-theatre-student-combination-of-a-girl. And its there, I’ve learned, that you begin to see the cracks and the crannies, in all their dirt and dustiness.

I see the hallow look on the worn face and smell the cigarette smoke. There’s a roughness in his eye and his bag reeks of marijuana when he hands it to me to keep while he shops–yes, I do wrinkle my nose at that. I see the man with the limp and the woman who asks politely for a deal because she’s coming out of a bad situation and the man who comes out of the dressing room with six shirts instead of eight. There are pushy people and others who don’t think I know how to be a cashier. There’s the men and women who come in to get free clothes for a new start at a new life and the kids who come to the front with their little wallets and buy video tapes and board games and stuffed animals. Oh, and there are the people who want deals and more deals and drive me absolutely crazy. There’s all kinds–more than I could ever write about here.

Yet now, when I see some of these people on the street on my way to work or in the mall or at the store again, I see them differently. I still don’t know most of their names or much about them at all–yet I realize that now instead of just judging them. Instead of looking on them with disdain or pity or indifference, I see them in a new light. I remember what they buy, what they always ask for, what they love in life. And I see them in that new way.

There’s the man who loves music and always buys CDs and the elderly lady who gets special things for her grandchildren. I see the man who always asks for hockey cards and the girl who likes new clothes. I see a woman who always buys gifts for her family, a lady who adores classical music, and families who may not have a lot of money but still want to buy nice things. And suddenly, the predispositions fly away and I remember their joy and I know them by their happiness, instead of their exterior looks.

Sometimes it’s a long way to the cracks and hard to breathe in the crannies, but I believe it is a place truly worth going. I admit that the surface is more comfortable and easy and that I can’t see people perfectly in the crannies. The surface seems like a clean, pretty place which we, as Christians, should work to bring the rest of the world to. Yet should we really stay in the surface? Because Jesus went into the cracks and crannies and talked to people and loved them just where they were. And while there is brokenness and pain in this place, I don’t know where we can go, save heaven, where there isn’t.

To tell you the truth, there is brokenness and pain in my life. So perhaps it is fitting to find myself in amidst the dust and the dirt. The surface doesn’t paint a real picture. We must dig deep and live in the cracks and learn in the crannies of life.

Every Day Can Be A Blessing

I don’t like Thursdays. I’m not sure if it is just my “end of the week attitude” or the general vibe of the Thursday customers at the store where I work or perhaps both which make me dread the day. Either way, I usually end up drained and wishing for Sunday.

Tuesday’s are usually my day off. Wednesday’s are my favourite, Fridays are a breeze, and Saturdays are short. And my once-dreaded-during-school-days-Mondays are actually quite lovely. But I hate Thursdays at the store.

Except for today. Even though I went into the morning like it was a battle ground, I came out at 5:00 feeling like I’d tasted a piece of Heaven.

After a hard week, in which my day off had not yet appeared, and customers had been stealing and bargaining right and left, a new air entered my little Thrift Store. Suddenly, everyone was incredibly nice. The customers were sweet to me and I could once again naturally be sweet to them without having to fake it. No one tried to bargain or steal. When I asked for people’s bags, they easily complied or left the store. No one gave me trouble. I enjoyed many friendly conversations with customers and felt satisfied in my work. A splendid, beautiful joy pervaded my space behind the till and somehow, I found richness in the ordinary, mundane, and often difficult work of a cashier once again.

And as I thought about it, marveling in the glorious day that had been so opposite to past Thursdays, I remembered the power of prayer. That God will bless us as He sees fit and that joy is often a choice between a smile and a grumble. Yes, there are bad days, but that doesn’t mean that today can’t be a blessing, at least in some way.

Tomorrow, I have a day off. I’m hoping for a blessed day, relaxing and doing my favourite things.

But I’m looking forward to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’m remembering that I’ll probably have to work next Thursday. And even though I’ll have sore feet and a somewhat drained spirit at the end of each work day, there will be blessings.

Blessings like cute dishes that remind you of your childhood or a customer who speaks Spanish or fresh coffee on your break. Blessings like a cousin who teaches you her songs after camp and a mom who makes you lunches and fills up your water bottle.

These are the little things; this life is mundane. But these small things are what make up life–at least, they make up mine. So don’t let them pass you by.

Remember: any day–and every day–can be a blessings.