Monday, January 25, 2010

Good Intentions

This evening I was cleaning out my email inbox. You know, sometimes I come across tidbits and stories that I think, "wow! that's a great thought," and I usually send myself an email containing that quote for use at some unknown future date. And tonight I found several of those emails just sitting around, collecting internet dust.

The following is one of those stories. It reveals well-known characteristics to all of us and in it lies the hope that we all can cling to.

Unfortunately, I can't remember just where it originated but the credit definitely goes to someone else.


I love going to the store early in the morning because there are usually no lines and it’s clean and quiet, plenty of good parking spaces. Early shoppers know how to grocery shop. They understand and adhere to aisle etiquette. They know what they are doing. They are my people.

But this is not about grocery store etiquette. This is about how good intentions wear off around 9am.

On a recent early morning shopping trip, I passed through the bakery area where I saw a mom-type person reach into the doughnut case, snag one with the tissue paper and scarf it down in about two bites. I do not judge her, because who among us has not been overcome with doughnut fumes and passed out in the self-serve case? She had probably gotten out of bed an hour before with the best of intentions to make it a better day, to do better, to treat her body like the temple that it is.

But by 9:30, the morning sun had scorched her good intentions. Resolve dissolved. I get that.

Two aisles before I even got to the photo department, I heard her voice – intense and purposeful and rising like a thermometer. And when I turned the corner there she was. A harried mom with four kids hanging off the cart. She was trying to work the self-service photo print machine and her four kids were trying to work her last nerve. And then she lost it. She bellowed at the source of her exasperation and melted down into a puddle of what appeared to be good intentions.

She had probably gone to bed the night before promising herself that today would be a better day, that today she would do better, today she would be the kind of calm and reasonable mom parenting books promise you can be.

As I was heading towards the checkout with my few things, I met up with a man with sad eyes and a red bulbous drinker’s nose. He wore a defeated expression. He bowed awkwardly and kindly waved me into the line ahead of him, although I had several things in my cart whereas he only had a case of beer.

“Thank you so much sir,” I said. I looked into his eyes and what I saw was the cruelest kind of sad – self disappointment. Had he gotten up a couple of hours earlier with the best intentions to make it a better day, to do better? Yet here he was buying a case of beer at 9:30 in the morning.

Beer is not my thing, but sometimes it’s the doughnut. Or the promise not to yell or be snippy and short with people I love. Or any number of short comings from a long list.

Like those people, I wake up each morning telling myself that today I’ll make it a better day, today I’ll do better. And then the sun rises in the sky.

The early shoppers, the ones with the good grocery store etiquette and a cart full of busted best intentions, they are my people.

Daily, my good intentions fail, but His compassions for me don’t. And therein lies my hope.

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It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22,23

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