SHOW UP.

Let me tell you about my Piggly Wiggly friends.

Last year, I felt this prompting from God that I was supposed to stop shopping at name brand grocery stores and instead shop at the little local grocery store right by my house.  It came at a weird time, but it felt kind of natural, and for some reason I really leaned into the idea and decided it was the right thing to do (which is saying something, considering how much your girl loves Target.)  Since then, I have, for all intents and purposes, relocated where I grocery shop.  

I know, of all things, God told me where to go grocery shopping.  I’ll say it with you:  WHAT?  

Trust me, I had that thought too.

Okay, so what.  What does that have to do with anything.

I quickly realized that the reason I needed to start grocery shopping at this particular Piggly Wiggly was so that I could get to know people in my community.  I have been in this area for 3 years, and I just discovered that sometimes I feel like I literally know no one except for those I encounter at school.  God decided that needed to change.  I agreed.  The change needed to start simple, and the simplest thing I could think of was grocery shopping.  It has to be done, and it might as well be done in the same place.

Target (or any other big grocery store, not to just single them out) wouldn’t have worked because it’s too big.  Plain and simple.  I for the life of me cannot remember seeing the same employee in Target twice in my previous two years here—and that’s quite a statement, for those who know how often I used to be in Target (#twiceaweek).  The point of going to the smaller store would be to establish connections, and that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t see the same people (relatively) every time I went.

So I started shopping at PW.  You should have seen me the first time I walked in.  It was very clear I was new.  Everyone else walked around like they knew what they were doing—definitely locals.  I must have had a sign on my back or something because I think I had three managers come up to me and ask if I needed help—which I was fine with of course, because I was thinking to myself, “look, I’m already making friends!” (almost).  

Obviously, grocery shopping isn’t an everyday thing if you’re only buying for one person, so this “establishing local connections” thing was going to take time.  I knew that.  I honestly didn’t know if I was ever going to befriend anyone.  I mean, everyone in there is an adult, and I’m just a confused college student trying to make friends at a grocery store (that was a joke).

But for some reason I kept going.  I actually really started to like PW.  The people there are so kind—even the people shopping.  It’s really just a happy environment.  My favorite part was that there are two people at the register—one ringing you up, and one bagging the groceries.  The person bagging the groceries always offers to take your groceries to your car.  At first, I didn’t let them, because I’m fully capable of carrying my own groceries (#independent), and there always seemed to be someone who looked like they needed help more than me in line next.  But then I realized I would have more time to talk to people if I let them load my car too.  So I started doing that.

That’s how I met my friends.

I have been in PW so many times now that I pretty much have seen every employee that works there.  I started jumping in the lines where I recognized people who had loaded my car before, so I could continue conversations with those I had previously talked to.

I have to admit, the first few times I did that, it was pretty disheartening.  Here I was, thinking I was doing some intentional thing (that will always get you), literally throwing myself in the longest line at the store just so that I could talk to the same person, and he didn’t even remember me.  That stung.  I remember thinking, why did I even try? 

But again, for some reason I kept going.  Every time I went, I just kept jumping in other lines.  I stopped trying to pick which person I wanted to talk to and just kind of let conversation happen as it wanted to.  Or, I should say, as God wanted it to. 

Turns out, that was the key.  

And all I had to do was show up.

On Wednesday I walked in to the store and I was kind of in a hurry.  To be honest, I was not even thinking about the fact that I would probably run into the people I’d had previous conversations with.  I grabbed all my stuff and ran as quickly as possible to a checkout line, and as I did I saw one of the employees I talk to a lot at one checkout line on the far end of the store.  Kind of without thinking, I walked my cart over to him.  

You would have thought I was walking over to my best friend.  

The moment he saw me, his face lit up, and he said, “It’s so great to see you!!!” (I heard it with all of those exclamation marks. It definitely would have had exclamation marks if it had been in writing.)

It took all I could to keep my jaw from dropping.  I don’t even know what I said, I was so stunned that he recognized me first.  We talked for a moment while this sweet woman was ringing up my bill until then my friend had to go help someone else, and I was still in shock.

But it wasn’t over.  I was so shocked I didn’t even see that the next guy who walked over to bag my groceries was also someone I talk to a lot.  He didn’t see me either until a few minutes later and we both kind of went “oh, hi again!”  Then WE talked for the next few minutes until I had to leave, and he told me he was happy to see me.

Still not over.  I’m walking out to my car, can’t stop smiling, and I hear, “BYEEEE!!!!”  It’s the first friend.  He’s literally waving and smiling so big from all the way across the parking lot that I’m sure everyone can see him.  It made my heart so happy.  I yelled back it was so good to see him, and he said “YES SAME!” 

I started tearing up before I even made it to my car.

You want to know what’s crazy?  They definitely do not know my name.  There’s no way.  They probably don’t remember half of the conversations we’ve had over the past year.  I’m not even sure I do, for that matter.  But I consider them my friends.  Because they cared enough to show me that they remembered me, and I them, and that meant something both ways across the board. 

And all I had to do was show up.

I think sometimes believers think we have to do these elaborate things in order to be there for people, or in order to spread love.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe God’s love is extravagant, and we are called to make extravagant gestures to reflect His love, but sometimes the most extravagant gesture we can make is simply to show up.  Talk to people.  Buy some groceries.  You never know where your daily habits can take you, if you perform them diligently.  Galatians 6:9 talks about diligence:  

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” 

If we do not give up.  The takeaway?  Be persistent.  Live diligently.  Be extravagant in the little things.  But most importantly, Show Up. 

What. A. Wednesday.

song of the day: “Wanna Be Like You,” River Valley Worship

Let Your heart be our heart

Let Your will be our will

Jesus, Jesus, more of You

Let us see what You see

Let Your dreams be our dreams

Jesus, Jesus, more of You

Let this house shake with praise

As the Church shouts Your name

Jesus, Jesus, more of You

With our hands lifted high

We surrender our lives

Jesus, Jesus, more of You!

Come and change my heart, show me who You are

I wanna be like You, I wanna be like You

Take my heart, my soul, I give You control

I wanna be like You…

xoxox

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