Though I sometimes forget, I love using my reusable bags. They are the kind that fold up into themselves and make a neat little package if you choose. I keep one folded up in my handbag and the rest I keep loose in a small cinch-up bag. I can fit at least 6 inside which is enough for our even our big grocery shopping excursions. I also have a new insulated bag for freezer foods and perishables. This comes in handy since we live about 45 minutes, one way, from the bigger grocery chains.
My favorite way for using the reusable bags is buying local though. Bringing my own bags, buying local, eating fresh - all good things. But I have to say, not all clerks are as happy about my "green" bags as I am. Some comment and ask where I got them while others fumble about, choosing not to place them on the bag holders but onto the counter where the sides fall down. It can be a mess.
One afternoon I packed up my bags and headed to a nearby grocery store for about 2 bags worth of items. I placed the bags on the conveyor belt followed by my goods. The clerk grabbed up the bags mumbling under her breath. I looked a bit sheepishly at the gentleman behind me and back at the clerk. I am used to a less than favorable response to my "green" habit but this was different. She threw the bags on the counter and put the groceries to the side and again continued to rant and slam groceries. By now the line was growing and people looked uncomfortably down at their feet and then up to see my response. I chose to offer to bag the groceries myself and she responded, "Good, I HATE those bags!". It was an uncomfortable event for me and those in line but I made the purchase, thanked her, and me and my bags left the store.
I kept thinking about the young woman and what made her respond that way. I knew better than to think it was about the bags but maybe more about her day. I could see her outside reaction but knew her heart needed more than me showing her anger or disgust. She needed grace.
End of story? Not exactly. You see, I was able to show her grace in the store but after I left I proceeded to tell family members my frustration with this clerk and the way she made ME feel in the store and how it was embarrassing to ME and uncomfortable for those behind ME. Somehow the grace disappeared and the focus was about - well, you know...me...and now who needed grace?
This young woman stayed on my heart though and as I began to pray for her my attitude shifted. I looked at her through eyes of grace, the same grace God extends to me on a regular basis. Maybe she was just having an "off" day. Maybe it was much, much more. I may never know. I have yet to see her back in the store after many months.
I am thankful for her, the young woman I do not know. She reminded me about:
Showing grace rather than (self-righteous) condemnation, to make the choice to forgo the outside and look inward.
Showing compassion, feeling the struggle and showing mercy.
Showing God's heart, seeing the pain, knowing the hurt and administering love.
So you see - it's not always easy being green. It's not always easy showing grace. But the world is a much better place for it all.