It feels good to be given grace! Let me explain . . .
Recently, I pulled into a gas station to fill up. You know the drill: I was running on empty, in a hurry, all dressed up and very hot (temperature, not looks ☺)!
When I put my credit card in the gas pump, it told me to see the cashier. Darn it! So I ran inside, in my heels and suit, only to face a long line at the counter. Thank goodness the owner was restocking shelves behind me; he must have seen my desperate look. He said to just give him my card, go pump my gas, and then come back. “How much do you want?” he asked. I responded that I needed to fill up.
I hurried back outside and began to pump my gas. When full, I put the nozzle back and returned to the store. There was still a long line, just different people. I got in the line and slowly moved up. All this time, more people were lining up behind me. Get the picture? It was a very busy little store!
When it was my turn at the window, I pointed to my card behind the glass. The cashier handed it to me, I hastily slid it through the slot, and up popped “declined.” Well, of course, that was a mistake . . . I just need to go slower. So I slid it again. Declined! Darn it, again! I pulled out my wallet to get cash. I quickly calculated in my head what I should have in my wallet. You see, I had to because I never carry much cash. Thank goodness I had cashed a check earlier in the week!
I opened my wallet and to my horror realized that I didn’t have enough money. I had forgotten that I had bought donuts on the way to work (for my staff, of course).
I was frozen! I kept looking into my wallet, hoping bills would suddenly appear. It will not surprise you to hear . . . they did not! At the same time, I was very aware that the line continued to get longer behind me and a bit of grumbling had begun.
The owner walked up behind me. I looked to the cashier and then to the owner, explaining that I didn’t have enough money, that of course I was terribly sorry, but I never expected to have to use cash. I was embarrassed beyond words. I began running through my alternatives in my head: call someone to bring me money, give the owner my jewelry, faint to distract him and at least the people in line could go ahead and do their business.
Just as I was calculating if I could outrun him (he was pretty old!), I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see the owner, who leaned in and said quietly, “What you have paid is fine. It is okay.” I have never heard such beautiful words in my whole life! I felt that I had just been given grace. I was not going to have to continue to stand in shame at the counter; I was not going to be mauled by the grumbling crowd; I was not going to have to give up my jewelry! I reached out and held the owner’s hand and thanked him profusely. (I really wanted to kiss him, but I thought that might not be appropriate. See: Sometimes I do make good choices.)
I got in my car and immediately broke into tears. I had been so embarrassed, and his kindness had released me. He had every right to react very differently . . . to ridicule me, to demand of me, to punish me. I thought of the many circumstances when people in our lives could use a bit of grace, when a smile or a kind word would make all the difference between shame and hope. I am not sure I realized what a difference that could make. I am committing to being a grace giver!