I was so excited! I had $10 in Kohl’s cash to use and a free Friday night in which to use it. My husband and oldest son dropped me and my youngest son off at Kohl’s as they went to a nearby sporting goods store. I don’t know why I love Kohl’s so much, I just do. It probably has something to do with the fact that I can find something for everyone there and it’s not Walmart.
Regardless, my husband told me to make sure that I spent the money on myself. I didn’t have much more than the $10 to spend, but coupled with the coupons I had, I might be able to find something decent in that price range. Jett and I were meandering through the store when I saw her.
She was my age, minding her own business, and enjoying her Friday night just like I was – shopping. However, her level of shopping was much different from mine. I watched as she pulled a dress off of the rack, held it up, and added it to the stack already placed on her cart. There had to be hundreds of dollars worth of clothes in her cart. She continued through the aisle. Sweater – check. Jeans – check. Necklace – check. I tried not to let jealously take control of me.
I looked down at the measly $10 coupon in my hand and my earlier feeling of excitement was replaced with a sense of longing. This $10 simply wasn’t enough. How is it fair that I had been scrimping and saving in order to get a few new items to wear to work and this woman so nonchalantly placed whatever she wanted into her cart? How nice it must be to be able to go out and buy whatever you wanted. Meanwhile, the money I had been saving to replace an old pair of black pants with a fraying hem went to buy the boys new clothes. Children grow at an alarming rate and just when you think they have plenty in their wardrobe they no longer fit into anything. It never bothers me when I sacrifice something for myself in order for my kids to have something, but it bothered me on this day.
Just as we were about to leave the women’s department, she spotted us. She pushed her full cart over to us and smiled and smiled. Jett was flirting with her and they were having a conversation. I said hi and thanked her when she told me that my son was adorable. Before we walked past each other, she said one more thing. “You are so blessed.”
I stopped dead in my tracks.
Yes, yes logically I knew I was blessed. I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no room for complaining. Yet, here I was making negative assumptions about this woman whom I had never met while it took her all of two seconds to realize how much of worth I had and congratulate me on it.
I eventually picked out not one, but two pairs of earrings with my coupon and we headed home. I thought about the exchange I had with that woman throughout the night and for the days to come. I wondered if maybe she hadn’t been saving her money for a long time in order to enjoy a much-needed and well-deserved shopping trip. I wondered if she had any children. Then it crossed my mind that while I was jealous of her, perhaps she was equally, if not more so, jealous of me. Maybe her and her husband had been trying to have children. Maybe she can’t have children. Maybe she would give anything to have just $10 to spend while pushing her sweet and cuddly son around in the front of her cart.
At the end of the day, I don’t know if any of these things are true. What I do know, is that I’m grateful to that woman for punching me in the gut with perspective. I have been given so much. Rather than waste my time and energy comparing my situation to someone else’s, I should be praising God for the situation I have. I am a wife and mother with an amazing family. While I may have to bobby pin my dress pants so the hem doesn’t drag, at least I have a job to wear those pants to. That job puts a roof over our head and food on our table. That table is the space we gather around and give thanks to our Savior who died for us and gave us eternal life.
My contentment will never be found in things of this earth. Someone will always have it better than me or be better than me. My contentment comes straight from my Savior who sustains me. When I focus on Him, I’m not comparing myself to others and killing my contentment; I’m looking towards an indescribable eternity in Heaven.