It was a teachable moment — an experience comparable to a school principal's reprimand for bad behavior. But the lesson wasn't learned in a classroom environment, but rather in "Life 101."
“I was in a hurry,” Kathy Blevins explains about choosing the express lane during the grocery store’s five o’clock rush hour. “And then my line wasn’t moving and I debated about moving to another one.”
With at least three people ahead of her, plus one at the check stand, Kathy eyed the other nearby lanes for a faster opportunity. But each time she considered moving her shopping cart, someone else seized the open spot.
“Why is everyone else's line moving and not this one?” the 62 year-old had complained inwardly, worn from her day of setting up breast cancer radiation treatments. “I'm tired and want to go home!”
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Ahead the line stalled, a young mother with toddler on her hip was in conversation with the cashier. Nearest to Kathy were two women, their “fifteen or less” items already on the conveyor belt, and a man just ahead of them.
With time dragging, the bookkeeper’s mind focused on the two “30-somethings” chatting loudly, their flamboyant dress and mannerisms a distraction.
“I caught myself being ugly,” the Apple Valley, Calif., resident says about her silent thoughts. “How can you dress that way and talk like that?” noting their raised voices and tight clothing.
But then something happened that made Kathy’s face flush with shame. Looking on, she watched as one of the young women edged past the friend and the gentleman next in line.
“I heard her say ‘Can I pay for her groceries?’” Kathy recalls the vivid scene, the manager ready to cancel the young mother’s transaction.
Suddenly, the finger Kathy had been mentally pointing was turned toward herself.
“The person I was at that moment,” she pauses with reflection, “wasn’t as good as the person I’d been judging.”
The altruistic woman’s actions hadn’t been showy but spontaneous and heartfelt. As quickly as she had paid for the food, she returned to her place in line, continuing her conversation with her friend.
But that generous and compassionate woman, who I sadly judged,” Kathy comments ashamedly, “I believe the Lord used to teach me a huge lesson!”
A life lesson with an enduring principle: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NLT)