Every Exchange

Every Exchange

I’m standing in line at the grocery store, my baby girl in my arms, who is falling asleep…a million things on my mind including her birthday party, which is tomorrow, and the move we are in the middle of. People are all around me…a million things on each of their minds, too…their minds as full as their grocery carts.

Then, the inevitable happens. The person in front of me in line? Her debit card doesn’t go through. Or her credit card. A code is called. I try to oscillate from offering a sympathetic smile to seeming oblivious in order to spare her further embarrassment.

Most of us have been there.

Then, it becomes apparent that it isn’t the person in line who has the issue…the check out clerk apparently is struggling. She tries again. And again. She calls a code. No one comes to help. She tries again. The card works and the lady leaves. I smile at the cashier.

Most of us have been there, too.

She rings up my groceries. Something goes wrong. She calls a code. A manager comes to help and she does something wrong, too. It is looking like they will have to ring up my entire cart again.

I’m still holding my baby…who is now smiling at the lady behind us in line.

I smile at the cashier.

“How many days have you been working here?” I smile with as much compassion as I can express.

She counts on her fingers.


“You’ll get it.” I assure her.

Things get worked out and I pay.

The lady behind me in line smiles as she steps up to pay for her cart full of groceries.

I leave feeling immense satisfaction. No stress. Just satisfaction at the peace that was exchanged…a much more important form of currency exchange than the electronic payment I made.

And TRIUMPHANT. I feel like we all triumphed in that moment. Me. The cashier, the Manager. The lady behind me in line. Even my baby girl. Satisfaction that the peace I brought could not have been from me alone…not in the midst of my own personal circumstances that have me teetering on the edge of “basket case”. No, it carried the mist of the Divine.

In that beautiful moment several of us kept the ugliness at bay.

Part of what helped me retain the posture of compassion was the stalwart fact that…


We all have.

How easy that is to forget. It is in those moments of forgetting that the ugliness creeps in.

Every interaction is an opportunity for us to inject the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Every exchange…an opportunity for us to administer healing to wounds of which we have no clue.

We really are His hands extended…in the smallest of kindnesses we have the opportunity to serve in the smallest, many ways each and every day.

Your kindness…sometimes simply in the form of a smile…is powerful…life changing in a single moment. And, you will be the one who benefits from the exchange as much as, if not more than, the person who is on the receiving end. TRIUMPH. SATISFACTION. Peace.

Compassion, touched by the divine, usually begins in humility.

We have all been there before.

In the midst of a crazy, harried world. I pray we don’t forget…and that compassion and peace can triumph in the smallest of exchanges…even in lines at the grocery store.


Picture By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)