When Compassion Turns to Competition

I admit it. I’m a grocery shopping snob expert.

After decades of feeding family and friends, several temporary live-ins, and many welcome (but often) unexpected guests, I can assure you that I am an expert grocery shopper. 

I’ve planned more meals than I can count, written thousands of lists, and taken zillions of trips to the store.  Since I lean more toward OCD utilitarian work than decorative, I never make one of anything I cook.  The pots are bigger, but it’s really not any harder to make two, three, or (dare I tell you), six times the recipe. This insanity method gives me the liberty to compassionately offer hospitality spontaneously and provide emergency meals generously. 

plates and food

Like any good WORK, it’s easy to slip into feeling good about the work instead of experiencing the pleasure of
Who It Is I Serve.

It is at the grocery store that my compassion quickly morphed into competition. 

A competition to:

  • Get a great parking spot.
  • Save money.
  • Collect all my items quickly.
  • Expedite my checkout.

I go to great lengths to win this private competition.

  • My meal plan is based on the weekly store sales advertisement.
  • My list is prepared according to the product layout at the store. 
  • I hum along, zipping my cart around old men and new moms like a race car driver.
  • At the checkout, I scan the lanes for cashiers I know are fast and who will pack my groceries carefully. When I find a promising line, I look to see if the shopper ahead of me has enough experience to meet my expectations for efficiency. Based on their technique of unloading their cart, I determine if they are proficient or novices before getting behind them.

Me … Competitive? Yes!

But God.

God is more interested in my compassion than my competition.

  • When the deli counter clerk is serving number 12, He allows me to have number 2078 so I can chat with fellow shoppers.
  • I’m forced to smile warmly at the lady blocking my aisle in the crowed pharmacy, trying to choose between Metamucil and Benefiber.
  • He prompts me to compliment cranky frazzled employees and engage in conversation with chatty friendly workers.

Though at first I didn’t appreciate His intervention, the investment in compassion has been its own reward.

  • To experience a fellow human’s smile.  
  • To watch the face of a dejected employee light up. 
  • To make the day of a lonely fellow customer.
  • To change the attitude of a cross worker with a word of genuine affirmation.

Showing compassion is God’s Golden opportunity for
you to demonstrate His love.

To bring value to someone’s life with a word or a smile.
To say, “You matter.”

Wow, it’s the best.

And, yesterday, He rewarded me with a gesture of compassion or favorball as we call them at our house.

Picture this, I found myself fifth in line at the checkout behind five fully loaded carts belonging to customers who had obviously not been in a grocery store since the digital age began. There was no hope of getting to my next appointment on time.

When I felt my irritation rise, I took a deep breath and exhaled a private prayer.
God, let me be a representation of you to anyone watching me.

Just as I finished, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  One of the “rockstar” cashiers was calling me to her open lane. First in line, I sailed through the checkout and even made it to my appointment with time to spare.


Good to give. Good to receive.

It’s a Win – Win.

Scripture Refresher: Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matt. 5:16

Prayer: God let me find the reserve in you to be who you would be in every situation.  Amen.


  1. Jenni on January 22, 2016 at 2:54 am

    I love this—thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary Lou Gooding on January 22, 2016 at 8:46 am

    As my husband used to say. Slow down and let God be God. He used to make it his duty to make the cashier smile in some way? Maybe a compliment about their smile or a piece of jewelry they were wearing. He almost always left a cashier brighter than he found her.

    Thank you Robyn for taking the time to share your down home tidbits.

    • Robyn Dykstra on January 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      What a shining example of kindness and compassion. Your hubz was a great man.

  3. Cindy Bultema on January 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Awesome post, friend. 🙂 I always love your favorball stories. And the next time you make 6 times as much ____________, you know where we live.
    Your friend who hates to cook 🙂

  4. Susan Pohlad on January 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    What a wonderful reminder that we are to be an example of Christ. Thanks Robyn!

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