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Red-StaterWisdoms explores the differences between the Red and Blue states on social, personal and political issues.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Time To Be Thankful

By: Susanne Karrels

I recently read a quote from Max Lucado about being thankful for waiting in long lines, how we should use that time to count our blessings. I'll admit, a new concept for me. How can one be thankful for a long grocery line, how do we find blessings in the daily grind that makes our blood boil? At a time when technology has moved our society along at break-neck speeds, how do we slow down and take time to find these moments as anything other than infuriating? With our daily "to do" list as long as The Declaration of Independence it is no surprise that we become frustrated with the blue haired lady in front of us who still doesn't know how to use direct deposit or a debit card.

I was in fact stuck behind such a woman just the other day at our local bank. This was the fourth stop on my list of twenty. I had until 2:30 to get through my list, and it was already 1:45. I watched this woman chatting up the teller, sharing stories of her holidays, children, grandchildren, pets, houseplants, and anything else she could think of. I was getting more and more irritated by the minute. I was glaring at this woman as if she had just shot my dog. In reality her conversation probably took no more than three minutes... it felt like hours. As I stood there tapping my foot, repeatedly glancing at my watch, shooting the teller looks of, "PLEASE, can you hurry up", I was hit with a realization not unlike the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes in one day.

Grannie turned from the teller with a huge grin on her face, thankful for the personal interaction, grateful to tell of her family to someone who would listen. It was at that moment that the next few stops on my list didn't seem so important after all. I don't know anything about this woman, if she lives alone, if her family lives far away, how many cats she does have, or how involved she is in the community. It doesn't really matter. I saw the look on her face, I saw how happy she was for having those three minutes with the teller.

It was finally my turn, and as I approached the teller, she quietly said, "I'm sorry for the delay." On a normal day I would have offered a dismissive "thanks", but not that day. I told her how happy she made the woman, how thankful I was to see the glow of importance on her face as she left the bank. Instead of spending my time with the teller complaining, I thanked her and gave thanks for being part of the moment.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a patient person by nature, and most of my days are not filled with gratitude for lengthy lines. Most times I don't see the beauty in waiting. As I'm driving in a mad dash to accomplish all my errands, as I'm cursing at the slow-poke in front of me, the memory of the woman at the bank comes back to me. How many opportunities have I missed? How much more fulfilled would my life be if I had noticed other's moments of joy for what I deem mundane?

I can't profess that I will notice every moment I am given. I won't pretend that I will be happy every time I have to wait. However, now that I've seen the "other" side... I am more willing to try. Don't we all want to be treated with dignity and respect, even in the grocery check-out line. If patience is what it takes to make someone feel special, to have their few minutes to shine, I think I can give up a few stops on my to do list. The drycleaning will still be there tomorrow, there will be more dishes to wash in the morning... but how many times are people given the real chance to be heard. If we don't slow down, if we don't teach our children that waiting in line doesn't have to be yet another "chore" of the day... will there be anyone left to listen to us?
Note from Sallyann: Susanne will be a Guest Writer for the Red-StaterWisdoms blog. Enjoy her work.


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