Life Lessons from Dollar General...Who Knew?

There is little I hate more in life than a hassle. Like having to return the new, expensive six-year light bulbs that lasted all of one month in my house. Of course, pretty much anything I have to do with a 3-year-old and a baby in tow is a hassle, so there's no escaping it for me these days. (Not that the kids are a hassle or that I don't love them...but, you know. They make things that used to be a piece of cake about as difficult as passing a kidney stone.)

I am a girl who used to love to get out of the house. These days, I like the idea of getting out of the house until I actually have to start getting ready to leave, which is when I start asking myself, "Is it really necessary that we have more food available at our house than boxed macaroni and cheese?" It's just so much easier to stay home, but my family likes to have food and toilet paper around at all times, so leave the house I must from time to time. Today was one of those days. After deciding that toilet paper would be nice and eyeliner was an absolute necessity, I set about getting me and the little guys ready to make an appearance out in the real world.

Naturally, Luke promptly set about his apparently God-given task of making "getting ready" so difficult that I must constantly repeat, "We MUST have toilet paper" over and over to convince myself I cannot back down from this challenge. The whole task before me threatened to completely overwhelm me and render me paralyzed, but I kept my eyes on the prize...of toilet paper and eyeliner. After a little tumble down the stairs for Luke, we made it out of the house with everything we needed plus a new booboo on Luke's eye. Miraculous.

I'm all about saving some money, but my hate of the hassle usually keeps me from running from store to store searching out all the good deals of the week. My time and energy have a price tag, and it's usually higher than the $1.50 I'd save on contact solution by driving out of my way and unloading my kids from the van one more time. But today, I found a deal that I felt was worth the hassle, so I gave in and went to the local Dollar General, which is a store I've only been to one other time in my 30+ years, I'm pretty sure.

The hassle began before we even entered the store. I'm not sure how you're supposed to manage a baby carrier in a tiny store with tiny buggies and doors that do not open automatically. Fortunately, a kind lady took pity on this poor mother in her t-shirt and jeans struggling to guide an easily distracted boy and a giant car seat and buggy through the door. So, we make it in and then must navigate a crowded store with boxes and towers of cleaning products and Cheetos strategically placed on eye level with 3-year-olds to find that, shockingly, they are out of one of the two products that they so cleverly advertised and I gullibly decided was a fabulous deal. This is where I must ask one of the great questions of life...Why on God's green earth do you create an enticing advertisement with an unbeatable deal and then not stock the item in your store?? Is it your goal in life to send the stress level of young, bargain-hunting moms through the roof? If so, mission accomplished. So, I debate the advantages of doing the deal another way while repeating the phrases, "Luke, come here" and "No, we're not buying Cheetos" over and over.

So, we make our way back to the front of the store without knocking over any of the displays that seem to be smack dab in the middle of the aisle, and I ask the kind employees if there is any chance they have the desired item somewhere else. The guy goes and checks and comes back with the not so surprising news that they're plumb out. Then, in his bid for Employee of the Month, he looks at me and says, with a straight face, "Our truck comes tomorrow. Why don't you just check back with us then?"

Ha! There is now one thing I know for absolute certain about this man. He does not nor has he ever had small children. Come back tomorrow? Has he lost his cotton pickin' mind? It has taken an act of congress to get us all to this point today. There is no way I'm repeating this process tomorrow. I stuff all the sarcastic comments down my throat, look at him, and simply say, "It's not real easy to get out of the house. I don't think we'll be coming back." So, I decide to take the less than stellar deal available to me and call it a day. I console myself with the fact that at least I have a coupon until, whadya know, the coupon isn't ringing up. After two people look at it with a puzzled expression for at least two minutes and then inform me they have no idea why it's not working but they can't do anything about it, I am actually beginning to sweat.

Don't ask me why, but this whole thing has brought me to the point of perspiring while standing still in a climate-controlled store. And I'm not an easy sweater. (That would someone who sweats a lot, not a warm item of clothing that is simple to wash and/or wear.) At this point, all I want to do is leave that God-forsaken store, never to return, no matter how good the deal looks on the back of their next weekly flyer. They've taken this chick on the only ride she's going on for a while. I try to make the moment more bearable by vowing to myself that I will not be suckered into dragging my kids back there anytime soon.

In an attempt at optimism, I will say that Luke behaved remarkably well, and I did still get a decent price on toilet paper, so the trip wasn't a total disaster. However, as we pulled away and I calculated in my anal little brain all the savings I missed, I was forced to ponder deep spiritual things like, "God, why would you thwart my plans to save a few dollars and spend our limited salary wisely?" (You know, because it's not like He has bigger fish to fry or anything.) And, whadya know. I kind of got a deep answer.

As He asked me the question, "Will this matter in eternity?" and I was forced to say, "Most likely not," I realized He had given me an opportunity to focus on the eternal. I could wallow in my frustration and wasted money, or I could choose joy and an eternal perspective. Then I got to's little, seemingly meaningless things like this that train us for the big stuff. If God can train me to react to the daily hassles and frustrations of life in a way that glorifies Him and refines me, then that's probably how I'll react when something much more significant comes along. Soldiers aren't trained by throwing them on the front lines of battle the day they report to boot camp. They're intentionally trained and faced with practice scenarios so that when they do go to the front lines, their reactions and behavior are so ingrained in them that it's second nature. They do the right thing without thinking twice. Maybe if I can look at the daily struggles, trials, and hassles of life as God's training ground, then my perspective will totally change and I'll be prepared for the bigger battles in life. Now, please remind of that tomorrow morning when I'm attempting to get 1001 things accomplished while listening to a screaming baby.


  1. Oh Amy. You know how I love a good rant! And now I will have to think about this before I rant about something silly. There you go being all wise and ruining my rant! :)

  2. Amy, I love the way you write ... exactly how it comes to mind. Hysterical!

  3. Do you know that Walmart matches the prices advertised in other stores' ads? Just show the cashier the print ad as he or she scans the advertised item at checkout. Maybe you won't get any deep answers from God by taking advantage of all the good deals in one place, but you will save a little money and a lot of trouble.


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