Is a phrase I learned from my husband. Lee always has these interesting sayings that I sometimes have to ask him about, but I love them. A couple of other examples include “haven’t seen them in a coon’s age,” “I gotta pee like a Russian race horse,” and “I’m hotter than Satan’s toenails.” Normally I can’t help but giggle a little when I hear these quirky little sayings, but “lost as a goose in a hail storm” is such a great analogy for the way I have felt since moving to Waco, Texas.
For the last few days I have definitely been a lost goose, and I did end up in what might not be a ‘hail storm’ but certainly qualifies as sleet. As much as I could go into detail about how anxious I am about driving in town and our weird, upstairs neighbor, instead I will tell you about the terrifying experience that is H.E.B. +Plus!. I haven’t been so lost and downhearted in a long time. But there is a positive ending and a great moral to the story.
It was our first day in Waco, Memorial Day. My parents had just left Lee and me at the apartment and we were, for the first time, completely alone in our apartment in Waco. Ready to get out and explore, we decided to go ahead and do a little bit of grocery shopping to get some things to cook for the next few days. The nearest grocery store was an H.E.B. I had heard so many great things about H.E.B. and how much better quality the produce and meats are than what we have back in Natchitoches. When we walked through the doors, I was completely unprepared for how overwhelmed, claustrophobic and completely lost I would feel. We couldn’t even see the other wall of the store.
We pulled out our list and took our time getting our things since we had no idea where anything was. We felt like we were in everyone’s way, and got a few looks, but nobody really said anything. After what felt like ages, we finally made it to the dairy section. We only had a couple of things left to get. We were trying to find our favorite almond milk when a woman in a scooter screamed at us at the top of her lungs, causing the whole store to look at us.
“YOU CAN STAND BESIDE EACH OTHER AND CHAT ALL DAY IF YOU WANT, BUT YOU BEST GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!” she screamed.
Lee jumped like he was electrocuted and moved to stand behind me. You have to understand that we were trying to stay out of everyone’s way already. The only reason we stopped where we were was to avoid hitting the young man in front of us and give him space to shop as well. This woman zoomed past grumbling, nearly taking out the college student we were trying to be courteous to. Let me tell you if looks could kill, Lee and I would be dead.
For the first time since moving, I felt tears burning my eyes. I didn’t cry when we left Marthaville; I didn’t cry when my parents left. But for some reason, I let this crazy, rude, callous lady in a scooter steal my joy. I felt like I had made a mistake leaving Natchitoches, where nobody had ever yelled at me for no reason. I felt so small, and I certainly felt like my Marthaville was showing. For the first time since leaving, I missed home and Natchitoches where I knew everyone and every aisle at Brookshire’s. These feelings continued to flood over me.
Throughout the rest of our time in the store, I got the remaining items and the tears didn’t stop pricking my eyes, even though I didn’t shed a single one. Both of us were more self-conscious than we were before, and we were trying to get out of there as quickly as we could.
When we were finally getting checked out, the elderly checker was very kind and friendly, as well as the young black woman behind us with a beautiful smile. The woman behind us made conversation with us, asking me where we were from, what brought us to Waco and if we were able to find everything okay. I explained that we had just moved here from Louisiana so that I could attend seminary at Baylor. Without going into detail, I explained that our grocery trip had been much more confusing than I expected. She laughed and told me that I would eventually get used to it, and proceeded to explain that this was the largest H.E.B. in the whole state of Texas (and that it was more than a football field and a half long, which explains a lot). She also told us that she was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and advised us to check out things going on in the city this summer through the magazines by the exit. I left that conversation feeling so grateful for her open and friendly spirit. I learned that one interaction, positive or negative, can have a massive impact on your entire experience or day.
When I walked out the doors, I felt peace and reassurance that not everyone was going to be like the one lady. I was honestly frustrated and embarrassed that I allowed her hateful actions to steal my joy. It made me feel like I had a lot of growing to do in Christ if I let some miserable lady steal His joy from me.
When we got to the car, I looked at Lee and said, “Well, Toto, we’re not in Natty anymore!” We laughed while we loaded the car and collectively took a deep breath of relief.
On the drive home, I thought about both encounters and how they affected us. One robbed us of our joy, and the other freely gave us compassion and hospitality. Instead of greeting us with bitterness, anger, and hate, the woman in line greeted us with kindness, comfort, and reassurance. I realized that neither Waco nor Natchitoches is full of just good or bad people, and I understand that I have a choice to make about which person I want to be. I know at the end of the day, I want to be the second lady who greets strangers with compassion and kindness. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” I think He would want me to show Him to others through my openness and my kindness to those who I don’t even know and who haven’t earned my respect or compassion. Tonight I am praying for the other lady. I don’t know what is going on in her life, but if she felt the need to put others down in a grocery store, then she obviously isn’t in a good place.
In conclusion, while I have definitely felt “as lost as a goose in a hail storm,” knowing that I am here to follow God’s plan is more comforting than I can even describe. It may take me a while to figure out how to get from point A to point B, how to go on quests to the terrifying grocery store and get used to being so far from our families. But in my heart I know we are in the right place, and that God is going to do a tremendous work in mine and Lee’s lives. Will it be easy? Will things always go perfectly? No! But Jesus is the perfect true north on the compass on my heart, and I know that He will lead this lost goose right through the hail storm.