Can I just tell you that I am getting pretty upset with my local grocery store?! For weeks now I have needed a new computer and for weeks now I have gone into that store everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, looking for the computer section and I have not been able to find what I need. I have been getting so frustrated! So a week or so ago I started asking the baggers and checkers where the computers are and they kept saying they did not have computers, that this was a grocery store. But I knew they either simply did not know where to look or were just too lazy to show me where they kept the computers. A few days ago I finally asked for the manager; he told me the same thing. So I left and came back the next day and the next — and he kept telling me the same thing. NO computers — but would I want to look at their fresh vegetables or fruit, perhaps some newly baked bread or barbecued chicken, even chips or ice cream? Absolutely not, I said, it is a computer that I need. So this morning he informs me I am creating a disturbance in his store and tells me I can never come back again. I guess he doesn’t like pastors or retired sailors or something. He probably just doesn’t like me. Fine. I will look somewhere else for my computer — right after lunch. Man, I wonder where you can get some food around here?
Alright, the truth is there is nothing wrong with my local grocery store; in fact, my wife is shopping at that store even as I type. But this is the type of word picture that the Lord gave one of my clients recently to illustrate the truth He was giving her about a situation in her life. And here is the principle….we often experience tremendous relational turmoil when we ask or demand that other individuals give us what they do not have; and furthermore, we can subsequently be so upset with the perception that they simply are choosing not to give us what we desire that we totally miss out on all that they do have available for us.
I have seen folks get angry and leave a church because “the pastor does not have time for me.” There have been adults that cannot seem to let positive relationships birth and grow because they are locked in on trying to get one or both of their parents (or children) to affirm them. Marriages and friendships sometime languish as wonderful and fulfilling aspects of the relationship are overlooked because one person is giving relentless attention to the inability of the other person to “understand me.” Sadly I even have worked with individuals who miss out on all the amazing items in the “ultimate superstore” of God because He appears to not carry the one item they most think they need most.
Over the years I have done many sessions of premarital counseling. One of the critical aspects of those sessions is getting past the warm fuzzy of romantic love and actually identifying the deepest needs and desires of each of the individuals — and then not guessing or assuming but actually determining the ability of other person to meet those. Failure to do this often leads to disappointment and frustration down the road when they discover that “my grocery store does not carry computers” and it can create such turmoil that they can no longer see all the great and life sustaining products their “grocery store” does have.
If I want a computer then the best place to go would be Best Buy, not Publix. If a person needs a place that they can come to share their hurts, fears, feelings and pain without being rejected or condemned; a place where there are compassionate, caring people who have time to journey at a slower pace then perhaps they might consider coming to see a pastor or join a Life Group or a Women’s Bible Study or a Men’s Accountability Group. After all, they carry that product. It is very possible that the people with whom they are most frustrated at the moment simply do not have that product in their store. We would sure hate for them, in their frustration, to miss all the wonderful items that special person does have for them.
Pastor Jim Groves