People Who Leave Their Grocery Carts


I can’t help staring at the wadded-up-mess of gum. We’re at 30K feet and the airplane’s cabin feels far too small and constricting. The beautiful redhead seated in front of me has reclined her seat and is almost in my lap. She is probably unaware that the sticky pink wad is only inches from her gorgeous hair. The gum is expertly affixed to the back of the leather portion of the headrest that can wrap around a traveler’s weary head.

I keep watching the gum and thinking . . . thinking about who would pull back the head rest and stick their used gum there. What kind of person would leave their gum for someone else to deal with? Or leave it to possibly get stuck in the next traveler’s hair? Did the person put it there for safe-keeping thinking maybe when the plane started its descent they’d pop it back in their mouth? Did the gum-chewing-passenger forget that the flight attendants come through the cabin regularly with trash containers welcoming any contribution at all?

Who leaves this kind of personal baggage behind for others to deal with?

What kind of person? 

My husband says there are two kinds of people in the world. People who leave their grocery carts on the parking lot and those who put them in a cart receptacle. You see it every day. You’re looking for a parking spot, circling, circling, circling, you see several spots available, but grocery carts litter the area. People leave the cart parked conveniently in the way. Convenient for them. They’ve unloaded their groceries and left the cart in place beside their parking spot. As they pull away, I wonder who they think will put their cart back where it belongs.

Who leaves their cart for someone else to deal with?

What kind of person?

Basically we have two kinds of people. Theologically, we have those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ—restored to a spiritual condition of “right standing” with God, and we have those who are still in need of redemption; those who are spiritually dead in their sins and in need of new life. But I’m not talking about those two types of people.

I’m talking about the gum-and-grocery-cart-leavers, those who leave the cart where it stands when they finish unloading it and those who put it away—those two groups.

Sadly, believers should never be found in the gum-and-grocery-cart-leavers category, but they are. It’s the same category where you’ll find the “good Christians” who eat an expensive meal, pray loudly, but tip sparingly (or worse yet, the only tip they leave is a gospel tract disguised as money). I’m speaking from experience here, working as a waitress through much of my high-school and college years.

What are these two categories of people?

There are two kinds of people, the self-centered and the others-centered. 

Of all people, those who are known as Christ-followers should also be known by their concern for the practical needs of others. We should be the first to lend a hand to those in need and to lead the way in mercy ministries. We should have the reputation of being considerate and thoughtful. We should set the standard of love that will cause the world to sit back and be amazed by our God! But instead, the world is often laughing at us, because our love is a self-focused love rather than others-focused.

Why is that?

Why are we, those who’ve received the greatest demonstration of grace, often so unwilling to display grace? Why are we far too often self-focused rather than others-focused? Why would any of us who’ve been rescued from a well-deserved eternal punishment ever turn inward or self-focused?

Shouldn’t the very fact that we’re living in grace push our heart and mind outward toward others? 

Have we forgotten what we’ve been given?

My prayer is that every believer will live worthy of the grace he or she has been shown—starting with me. I pray that we will live to serve, give, show mercy, and consider others before ourselves. I pray that we will become known as those who rush toward the needy and helpless, and yes, known as those who put away our own carts as well as offer to help the elderly with theirs.

Why does putting our grocery carts away matter?

Because there are two kinds of people who are watching us. Those who’ve received God’s grace for salvation, and those who are in desperate need of a rescue mission. And one group especially needs to see the witness of grace and the echo of redemption at work. 

Which group are you in today?


Image courtesy of Ambro/


  • Sheila

    “Who leaves this kind of personal baggage behind for others to deal with?” As I read this post, I believe God was prompting me to ask myself if I am a gum-and-grocery-cart-leaver when it comes to my disposition and attitudes. I have been in a season of complaining and have been voicing my frustrations and resentment of the demands on my time that I know are from God’s hand, an opportunity to be a blessing and to serve someone I love and who truly needs much help. My husband gets the worst of it, and I keep my closest family and friends “updated” when they ask how I’m doing. I never block a parking space with my basket. I put it in the cart “corral” if I don’t walk it all the way back to the front of the store. The watching world might think well of me, but the ones who hear my words and the One who sees my heart would tell a different story. Thank you for ANOTHER great object lesson! God BLESS you!

  • Barbara J. Lange

    I received much needed encouragement from both Kim and Sheila this morning. Convicted and asking God to show me today what kind of person I have been and need to be. I think the reason why I am focused on myself is that I am depleted. No, is a word I need to learn to say so that I can say Yes to the things God has for me to do. Blessings!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Sheila ~

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I like how you applied this post in a very personal way to your life situation! Your question is one we all need to ask ourselves 🙂

    Love hearing your heart, friend ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Barbara ~

    Yes, sometimes “No” is the most godly response one can give. We can become so depleted physically because of filling our lives with so much “good stuff” that we miss out on God’s best. For me, it is a constant battle to evaluate and discern what God is calling me to or what others are inviting me to. I only want to follow His plan, not take on too much by living out an agenda that isn’t from Him.

    Thanks for stopping in to share!