"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

I don't love supermarket shopping

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Let me just say at the outset, that once upon a time I used to enjoy supermarket shopping. Call me weird, but there was something about meandering up and down the aisles that I found relaxing. I was a "proceed up and down every single aisle" kind of shopper. My husband used to laugh about it. He found it endearing that I needed to make my way past every item, looking left and right, to make sure I didn't forget anything. It was like my very own date with the supermarket.
Aaahhhh, those were the days..........

Losing my love
These days, supermarket shopping and I are estranged, to put it mildly. My shopping habits have changed significantly. Now I shop mainly at our local farmer's market, health food shop, and our friendly butcher, and only step foot in the supermarket when I can't put it off any longer, because we've totally run out of toilet paper or toothpaste or the like. Or, even better, I text a list to my husband to pick up on his way home. He's awesome like that!

I'm sure part of my problem is that I always seem to pick entirely the wrong time to be in the supermarket. Saturday morning. Saturday lunch-time. Saturday afternoon. They're really not the best times. I know I should try to get there when things are quieter - Mondays, for example - when there are fewer people, when everything is less frantic. It's my own fault for leaving things to the last minute. Not really very "super-planner" of me.

The bottom line is that when it comes to supermarket shopping, I am no longer fond. I feel like I'm wasting time that could be better spent. I don't enjoy the atmosphere. I no longer find it relaxing. In fact, I've found that supermarket shopping can often bring out the worst in me.

Not so endearing
Lately I've found myself getting frustrated and irritated really easily in the supermarket. People walking down the very aisle that I want to walk down! People stopping in the aisle right in front of the section I need! People dawdling when I'm in a hurry! People crossing in front of me, making me have to stop and wait! And the worst one - people travelling entirely in the wrong direction, driving their trolley on the "wrong side of the street" no less, straight for a head-on collision with me!!! I mean, come on people, I just want to get in and get out!

Supermarket shopping lately has been showing me who I really am. Where once my supermarket shopping style was (apparently) endearing, these days it has been exposing my not-so-endearing qualities.

What these irritations tell me is that, basically, I think I'm more important than everyone else who happens to be in the supermarket at the same time. My schedule is more important. My needs are more important. My method is more important. My direction is more important...........

The sin that so easily entangles
A lovely young friend and I have been reading and discussing a book over the last few months. On this very topic, in fact - the topic of sinful responses. Written over 300 years ago, by one of the "puritan" Biblical scholars, it's still incredibly relevant, thought-provoking, and confronting today. To be faced with just how sinful I can be, and how challenging it can be to overcome the sin that is entrenched in my life, is sobering.

But it's also comforting, and encouraging. Because my friend and I realised that we're in good company. Very good company, in fact. It was the writer of the letter to the Hebrews who talked about this sin that "so easily entangles", encouraging his readers to throw it off along with anything else that hinders them (and me) from persevering in the life of faith (Hebrews 12:1). So I know I'm not alone.

Not only that, but the apostle Paul - "super apostle" if ever there was one, and faithful servant (to the very end) of the Lord Jesus Christ - talked about sin in very blunt terms, lamenting his own wretchedness and sinful tendencies:

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (Romans 7:18 - 19, NLT).

Later, in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes again, exhorting his readers not to succumb to their sinful tendencies:

Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:3 - 4, NLT).

Yes, I am in good company. Nevertheless...........

Be kind, even in the supermarket!!
It's not always an easy thing to acknowledge my selfish and sinful attitudes. And with something as mundane as supermarket shopping it's so tempting to dismiss this particular life arena as unimportant, and think that it somehow doesn't matter how I approach this weekly chore. But it does matter.

This whole being-kind-in-the-supermarket thing was brought to my attention a few years ago while shopping with a friend who made a point of being deferential to other customers, friendly to the check-out operator, making eye-contact, striking up a conversation, asking her about her day, smiling! I'd never before seen anyone behave quite like this in the supermarket - it really blew my mind.
I'd only ever gone about shopping the way I always had, disengaged from others, with one purpose in mind - getting my own shopping done in my own way.

My good and His glory
It was a beautiful thing to see my friend's attitude in the supermarket, and it changed how I approached supermarket shopping - particularly how I engaged with the check-out operator.
But lately, because supermarket shopping has become more of a chore and a challenge and less of an enjoyable, relaxing "date", I've noticed I'm slipping back into my old habits. There's no doubt about it, but I'm glad I've noticed.

Even in the supermarket - even though I no longer love cruising up and down every aisle, even though I just want to get it over and done with as quickly as I can - I am to throw off my sinful attitudes, value others above myself, and look not to my own interests but to the interests of others.

Once again, God is not so concerned about my happiness as much as my holiness, and I know that He intends to continue using this whole supermarket shopping gig for my good and His glory.

Here's where you can read my lovely friend's musings on John Owen's "Sin and Temptation".

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