You are probably far more sane than I. I have so many quirks as to be considered certifiable rather than merely lovably quirky – just ask my husband. I have a perfectionist streak that’s at least a mile wide, and it tends to exhibit itself in slightly O.C.D. behaviors. While some behaviors tend to have roots in childhood trauma – like my fear of an unorganized Tupperware cabinet causing further head injury – I have a few unexplainable, borderline psychotic habits. I take great care to load my grocery cart in such a manner that you can’t help but unload it so that all my groceries are grouped together, thus making it virtually impossible to bag it out of order. Yes, there is a correct order to bagging groceries: like things go together, cold things go together, eggs and bread never go with canned goods… I could go on for a while. I pretend that the logical reason for this is that I usually have to unload the groceries at home by myself, so it’s important to be able to prioritize what goes in first, especially since I have to climb a flight of stairs for every load.
The reality is I have no idea why I’m so obnoxious about my groceries. I don’t even let the baggers help me to my car; I like to put the bags in a particular order, and I like to do it myself. Perhaps I like the sense of control. I really have no idea, and I’m okay with never plumbing the depths of that particular psychosis. Not too long ago I was purchasing a large amount of toothpaste and toothbrushes to complete some shoeboxes a friend let us help put together for Operation Christmas Child. I had other grocery items as well, so I had taken great care to load my buggy perfectly. Even if a bagger helped me unload it, there was no way to mess it up. I thought.
One of my favorite baggers came over to help, and he began pulling things out willy-nilly. Toothpaste commingled with soup cans and cleaning supplies and produce. I was losing my mind. Not only had my items been hopelessly mixed, but my large volume of toothpaste was attracting a crowd. My cashier, the bagger and at least two other store employees were helping to load the items into my re-usable bags, each one remarking on the astounding amount of toothpaste I was purchasing. I glanced over to watch the bagging process, vaguely hoping that the girls would sort it as they bagged, and noted that the bagging was happening in an even more haphazard manner than the buggy unloading.
And then I realized that I was being utterly ridiculous. Sure, the mixed up grocery bags would take me more time to sort at home, but I was wasting an opportunity to explain WHY I was buying all that toothpaste. I laughed off my frustration and explained what Operation Christmas Child does and that the toothpaste they were helping me with was going to a child in another country along with information about Jesus and ways to learn more about being a Christian. As it happens, all of the people helping me claimed to attend churches that were also participating, but what if I had missed a chance to share my faith with someone who needed hope, only because I was cranky about my grocery compulsion? How many times do we all get wrapped up in details that really won’t matter past the next hour or day and miss the opportunities we have to share our lives with others? Did it REALLY matter that I spent an extra fifteen minutes re-sorting my toiletry items? Not if meant that I was rude to someone else or otherwise returned frustration for well-meaning help.
Maybe one day I’ll throw caution to the wind and not care if my produce gets bagged with canned goods and dog food. Or maybe I’ll just have to keep reminding myself that it’s more important to inhabit each moment and reflect God’s love to others in every circumstance.