Whether it’s normal or not, I’m the kind of person God uses the daily things of life to teach me more about Him and myself. Years ago I blogged about how my fear of the biscuit tube exploding reminded me of the Lord’s return. A trip through a gorgeous state park was a lesson on trying new things in faith.
Today, I thought I would share what God showed me inside a discount store.
This kind of store is only a couple miles from where we live and it has a reputation of being a convenient place to shop, but not in a great part of town. It’s not as clean as it can be, and there are some people employed there who will tell you to your face they truly don’t care about being there. Helping? It’s not assumed at this store among the locals. I know people who live in the same suburb who confess to driving to the same name store in another town because the store is bigger, cleaner, and filled with employees who will answer consumer questions. The one near me has such a negative reputation that when we first moved here a family flippantly shared that the best thing that could happen to that store would be for it to disappear.
Earlier this week I needed some items but didn’t have a lot of time. I forged into the store near me and saw something on the exterior. Scaffolding. The parking lot changed to accommodate the remodeling trucks and equipment. Once inside I realized the products are in new locations and aisles shifted. This particular store is in total remodel mode, most likely with a plan to add sparkle and space.
Yet despite the equipment and the promise of transition, at the core of the this shopping experience, something was very much the same. The heart of those working there. Looking around, when someone asked for help, they were met with a blank stare and a shrug. I turned a corner to find three employees in a very narrow aisle talking, and not too happy that they had to shift a foot or two down so I could find and reach my item. Although I haven’t talked to friends about this, I suspect they would walk away as I did—thinking the more they change, the more they stay the same.
But in the middle of the narrow aisle where my mission was to get a protractor and get out of there, God whispered this profound thought.
“This is what it’s like when you dress up a wound without addressing it. It’s just a cosmetic change.”
Ouch. I realized there were many times when I set up the scaffolding against my heart and threw some band-aids on the cracks and gaps, but didn’t change the internal wounds that kept me from reaching my true potential. Things looked pretty for a time, but no one was fooled. There was no true change. I had to address the core issues to experience true transformation.
If that discount store wants to experience an authentic re-model, like me, they need an organization bigger than them to lovingly confront the staff that they are too valuable to continue this way. They need a re-boot, removing toxic elements such as words and attitudes from the deepest place in the store. There needs to be a commitment to find why the employees feel the way they do, what makes them choose their words and actions (or non-actions). Finally, everyone needs to unite and agree to change, knowing it’s a journey, but one worth taking. When these things come together, people will take notice and I believe they will flourish.
I remember grieving over how much time and how emotionally taxing it was to go through a true remodel of my heart, receiving healing from experiences I was allowing to rule me. Day by day I saw fruit come from the yielding those wounds, but it was hard work. I knew it was worth it, but the best confirmation came from my husband. He was talking to a young couple and identified me this way: the new Julie. To me, that meant he recognized the transformation. The old Julie was gone, and the change was in place. I’m so glad I stopped the band-aid fixes and allowed God to take care of me, inside and out.
Chances are right now you are thinking of someone throwing a coat of paint over the wounds on their heart thinking it’s good enough. Like the store, no one wants to visit a store filled with negativity and little by little as the paint cracks, people will stay away. The bigger question is, how about you? Is God pointing to a place in your life that needs a total rework? Would you trust Him today with a restoration process that doesn’t skimp on budget or time constraints because He has the best for you in mind?
Because just as a shopper that knows a product with good value, God knows you, loves you, and believes you are worth the journey.