I had just finished scanning, bagging and paying for my grocery items and as I pushed the cart toward the exit, I was forced to stop. The lady in front of me was blocking the exit and had stopped to answer the question of an elderly man who had approached her.
“Do you know where the restroom is?” he asked her.
She looked toward the back of the store and said, “it’s in the very back corner.”
At this I spoke up. “No,” I said, “actually it’s just right over there by the pharmacy sign,” I said. The pharmacy was not in the back of the store. It was in the front.
The elderly man turned toward me and I gave him more specific directions to get to the bathroom in this store. He thanked me and walked on.
I turned back to the lady and said, “I’ve been to the restroom in this store myself.”
And then she said something I found incredulous. She said, “I’ve never been in this store before (today).”
I just couldn’t get the whole scene out of my mind. Why would the lady tell the elderly man where to find a restroom when she didn’t know herself? Why not just admit that she didn’t know?
Right about now, you are probably wondering what does this story have to do with anything? But, I think it has to do with quite a lot. It is one of those small life lessons that could easily pass you by if you let it.
Let’s dissect this scenario a little more and learn an important lesson (me included).
From the Elderly Man’s Point of View:
The question is a simple one. “Where is the restroom?” He was obviously in unfamiliar territory and didn’t know how to navigate to meet his immediate need. His first mistake was asking the first person he encountered to help him. He really had no way of knowing if what she told him was true. A store employee would have been a better choice for the question. But in his defense, perhaps his need was pressing and he didn’t have time to find an employee. If this was the case, he’d still be wandering the grocery store only now worse because the lady had told him wrong and his immediate need might be upgraded to an urgent matter.
Point: Where do we go to find the simplest of answers to our questions, especially when we are in unfamiliar territory?
The Lady’s Voint of view:
An elderly man had just asked her a question. Perhaps she felt obligated to “help” him even though she did not have the answer. What would she do? She would reason her way through. Her reasoning led her to the answer (perhaps based on past experience at other stores) that the bathroom was in the back and she matter-of-factly told him where the bathroom was.
Point: Many people think their “reasoning” is a good enough answer, and will make it fact. When in reality, they just don’t really know. But they don’t say or won’t admit they don’t know the answer.
My Point of View:
I had been to this particular bathroom in this store on more than one occasion. Don’t judge, sometimes you just gotta go. 😏 Since I knew what she was telling him was flat-out wrong, I spoke up politely. I had been there, this was not unfamiliar territory for me.
Point: Speak up politely when you know, and when you don’t know admit it, but direct them to someone who would be better suited to answer their question.
The answers to our most simplest and our most profound questions can and should be founded in the Word of God. I’m not talking about “Where is the restroom?” I’m talking about who you approach to find a simple question of life’s most pressing and urgent needs. “Why do we need to be saved? Does Jesus really know and love me? Does He see the real me and still love me? Do I have to do something to be saved? Should I go to church? Why? What does it mean to live for God?
If I go to just anybody with these questions, I may be directed in the exact opposite direction from the truth. They may use their own reasoning and science (been to other places like this one, so…) to answer my question.
How did the elderly man know that my answer to his question was correct and the lady’s was not? He didn’t. In this situation, he had to trust I knew what I was talking about.
But in life’s questions of popular cultural ideas, we don’t have to trust that the pop culture knows what it’s talking about.
Which brings us to: How do we know who has the answers to our most pressing questions?
The litmus test is always the word of God. Always test anything and anyone to see if what they say lines up with the Bible. In order to do that, we must be reading and studying the Bible regularly.
Even test some of your own ideas. We live in this world and get influenced by pop culture ideas all the time. Culture’s ideas change over time, but God never changes. Ask yourself: How do I know that? Where did I get my information? Where is scripture that backs up that idea? Have I ever prayed and asked God about that?
If you see someone directed down a wrong path, gently give a correct answer. Their need may be more pressing than you know.