I paused yesterday, at the grocery store, to let a woman enter the aisle ahead of me, as she pushed one cart in front and pulled another behind. Interestingly, neither were very full, and I was wondering why she had two when two elderly women came motoring along behind the last cart in their scooters. When the final party of their entourage had entered the aisle, I turned in behind them.

I assumed the younger walking woman was a relative, a daughter perhaps, taking her mother and grandmother shopping, so while I thought it was nice of her, I didn’t think it was out of the realm of normalcy. That was until I heard this exchange:

“Dear, you really don’t have to do this. We can help each other.”

“She’s right, honey. I’m sure you have your own shopping to do.”

“Nonsense! I’m not in a hurry, and I don’t have that much to get today. I’m happy to help you both! Now, what kind of toilet paper do you each use? I personally really like the Charmin Ultra Soft.”

Then I watched as one decided to go with her suggestion and the other stayed with her favored brand. Each choice went into a separate cart and off they went to the cleaning supplies on the next aisle.

I was stunned. That woman apparently didn’t know either of her older counterparts. She’d just come to the store to get a few things and be on her way, yet now she was doing the shopping for two other people before she got herself a single thing! Sure, I’ve been known to stop and offer assistance to a scooter-shopper struggling to reach something on a higher shelf; I’m sure you have, too. But not without my own cart bulging right next to me.

I thought about it all the way through the store, seeing them a few more times before I reached the check out. Then, as I was putting my groceries in my trunk, I spotted the younger woman out there, helping the older two get their stuff in their car before waving goodbye and heading back in the store with her own empty buggy.

You know, there is helping and then there is serving.

I think, sometimes, that when we stop to offer a hand with something we are tempted to say that we’ve served, and I guess we have to a certain extent. But there isn’t a lot of sacrifice involved in helping. It typically doesn’t take too much of our time, or get us too far off our own track.

But serving? Serving is something else entirely. It takes personal sacrifice, and is usually not at all convenient. It has nothing to do with self and everything to do with others.

It’s becoming less and less of the norm.

That’s why the whole exchange is still on my mind this morning, and, I’m sure, on the minds of two older women somewhere in Weatherford, Texas. I hope it will be on your mind all day, too.

May we all step into the dawn wondering how we might go above and beyond in service to our fellow man. After all, contrary to popular belief, this life is not about us.

It has never been.


He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” ~ Mark 9:35 MSG

“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” ~ Mark 10:44-45 MSG