I did something this morning I’ve never done during the past 42 Thanksgivings I’ve celebrated. In my early Thanksgiving celebrations, it wouldn’t have been possible. Over the past few years, it wasn’t practical to do, and honestly, I thought (and still do!) it was laughable. But there I was, at 5:47am, waiting for a Thanksgiving Day sale to start.
The decision to get up at 5:20am was made last night, a little after midnight. I probably should have realized that if I needed to be exhausted from a long day in order to make a decision...it’s probably a bad one! I actually woke up at 5:11, 9 minutes before my alarm went off, rolled out of bed, threw on my “I just woke up and put on these sweats,” sweats, donned a shirt (I think it was mostly clean) and thew on a ball cap to hide my bed-fro.
I drove 22 minutes to get to the store, and arrived at 5:47. I found the line I had to stand in so I could wait for a “great deal” on a pair of headphones for my son. When I found the “Your line starts here” sign, there was just one other gentleman in line.
As the two of us stood in line swearing that we never do this kind of thing and trying to protect our man cards, I learned quite a bit about my shopping comrade. He and his wife both served five years in the military, and if it wasn’t for his kids (he wasn’t saying that in a bad way) he would re-up again today, in order to serve.
In his cart were a couple of other small electronic items, gifts he was planning for his two teenagers at home. We talked about life with teenagers, how his family ended up in this area and how challenging it can be to shop for the kids. His son really wants one of the latest gaming systems, but that’s just not in the cards for this year. “He’ll be ok though," his father assured me, "I know he’ll be thankful for the other things he gets this year.”
We also talked about how to keep the bigger picture of the season in focus. He and his wife have their kids serve in a local shelter in order to get to know the needs of the community, and try to help them keep a solid perspective on the things of this life. He wants his kids to appreciate giving as much as they appreciate receiving.
Promptly at 6:00am, a service clerk came over, unlocked the cabinet we were waiting for, and handed my shopping companion his headphones. As I wished him a happy Thanksgiving, they left to check out and I waited for my turn.
At this point, three other people had joined the line. The woman behind me was having a bad day. After all, it was already 6:05 (our clerk had to assist another clerk/customer, and left the area after helping the first man check out) and they were still waiting for their “d*** headphones” she said with more than a hint of biting sarcasm.
“Why the h*** do they think I got up so early? So I could wait in line?!?” Then she gave a thoughtful assessment of the employee helping us: “What is this dumb a** doing?” She then lamented that she might miss other deals because of how slowly he was working, and that she would be exhausted returning home to start cooking for everyone. “These people are such idiots...where do they find these workers??” And finally she explained that she didn’t even know why she was here, after all, her kids would probably just break the new toys and lament that they didn’t get the more expensive ones!
With each comment our line became quieter and quieter, and only her husband nodded in agreement. While she looked around for some affirmation that her observations were correct, she did not find any companionship among her fellow shoppers.
What a contrast of two individuals -- two families.
A couple of nights ago, Traci and I watched Tomorrow Land with the kids, and in it, one of the characters told a story about two wolves. The first wolf is angry, full of bitterness and ready to ravage anyone that crosses its path. The second wolf is kind, full of ideas and energy and ready to help anyone it sees. You are always feeding a wolf, the question is, which one?
The gentleman in front of me was definitely feeding the second wolf, while the lady behind me was feeding the first. The way they interacted with the world around them evidenced their feeding habits. It was unmistakable.
The Apostle Paul describes these two wolves in different terms, in Colossians 3. Instead of wolves, he refers to two different perspectives, one focused on my own desires, and one focused on eternal things. He says the self-focused perspectives expresses itself with these attributes: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying (Colossians 3:5-9). It’s an ugly perspective and unfit for God’s children.
The eternal perspective stands in stark contrast. It expresses itself with these attributes: compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness, gentleness, patience, love, harmony, peace and -- mentioned three times! -- thankfulness (Colossians 3:12-17).
Paul talks about these two perspectives like a wardrobe and essentially asks, “What garments are you putting on each day?” Are you putting on the clothes of the selfish and spiritually dead? Are you waking up each morning and putting on anger, rage, sexual perversion and lies as your outfits of choice? Or are you making a choice to don compassion, forgiveness, patience and thankfulness for your daily wardrobe? Each of us is wearing something, the question is what closet did we pull our outfits from?
You and I get to choose what we wear. I hope this Thanksgiving season is a good time for you and me to adjust our wardrobes. If you want a good test of what you’re putting on, go shopping with the crazies tomorrow and see what shows up in your thoughts and what gets expressed in your words. As I left the store this morning, I wondered what my wardrobe looked like to those people I met. I hope they saw clothing made of kindness, peace and thankfulness.
Every person you interact with will be influenced by what you wear. What are you wearing today?
Go ahead and take the plunge, your wardrobe will be better on the water!