The string cheese incident

Once upon a time in the aisles of Aldi, I came up against a stranger at the cheese cooler.

She was tall and trim, with lush curly hair. She flashed a megawatt smile at my daughter and flitted through her purchases, energy oozing out of her. We chatted a little.

“String cheese, string cheese,” she said to herself. “Don’t tell me they’re out. I need some for children’s church tonight!”

I was looking for string cheese too, and helped her look. We scanned the shelves together. “I don’t think there’s any here,” I said. Suddenly her hand shot out and snatched (I do not think “snatched” is too strong a word) a pack of string cheese from the cooler right in front of me. A single pack had been sitting out of place on top of another cheese box.

She practically hugged it. “Oh my goodness!” she said, her face alight. “Jesus put this here just for me! Isn’t He so good?! He knew just what I needed!”

By now I was thinking two things.

  1. You are a beautiful lady of courage and charisma.
  2. Did He also give you permission to snatch it from in front of me?

I said something kind, since I don’t fight with strangers [only sisters and husbands], and stood there scanning the shelves one last time. On the highest shelf, out of its usual place, sat an entire box of string cheese packages.

“Look,” I said. “Here’s more.” And I took down a package for myself. “Do you need more packs?”

No, she only needed one. She bubbled on her way, a radiant lady.

I admire her still, and I do not tell this story to paint me as the good guy: I would have liked to snatch up that cheese myself. I tell the story because I began to feel, after a time—not at first—that what she did with cheese, I might be doing with quarters in Aldi carts.

I began to wonder if The Miraculous Provision of Jesus Just For Me is sometimes code for Being a Better Snatcher? We Christians have an easy handle on this brand of selfishness.

“Pass it on,” those liberal strangers at the carts always told me. And I did. But I wonder how often I found a cart outside the store without an owner, just sitting there waiting, as I said in my last post, and mentally added …for me!

I want to be a NonSnatcher. That’s why I started taking a quarter of my own. And if I want to walk forward another step and become a Giver, my little envelope could probably hold two…?

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9 years ago

This story really spoke to my heart… because I’ve been convicted of always being a ‘snatcher’ or having the ‘give me’ mentality…. and yet we’re to put ‘others first’…. what a challenge!! I need to be thinking of ways to be giving, giving to others. Thanks!!

9 years ago

Yes, yes! So many examples of this: “Wow, this rain must be just for me and my parched garden” while at the same time, countless other people’s weekend plans are going down the tubes. . . so many things can be seen that way, although who knows, maybe that string cheese really was meant to give that lady just what she needed, and also give you a lovely lesson and blog post. Thanks 😉

9 years ago

So the moral of this story would be…let us be neither greedy nor careless in the name of “The Lord will provide”? Is that what you’re saying? (Your version was more interesting than mine.)

However, there are times–many of them recently–when I have been powerless to help myself or those I love, and it is humbling and amazing and terrifying and overwhelming to Receive. It is not more blessed to receive, but if someone is to have the greater blessing of giving, it takes someone else willing to accept the gift.

Perhaps Jesus put the string cheese box on the top shelf so you had the opportunity to “give” to someone else before receiving His gift. 🙂 (More likely it was a new shelf stocker named Rocket, but anyway.)

9 years ago

Rocket, huh? 🙂

The moral is correct, I think. I don’t want to get self-centered in the name of Christianity, a me-me mindset under a holy cover. But you are right… there are times when God’s gifts are specifically for me, and it is a delight to unwrap them!

9 years ago

“I don’t fight with strangers [only sisters and husbands]”
Oh how I liked this story, and particularly that line.

Sharon Yoder
9 years ago

I become a cheese snatcher because I see myself as the sole provider in keeping my personal kingdom intact. If I could lift my eyes to the highest shelf, I would discover God’s kingdom has no limitations and always has plenty to go around. Great read, Shari!

9 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Yoder

Beautifully said! and so true.

mom coblentz
9 years ago

What a relief that it’s only ‘sisters and husbands’! says the mother as she sighs contentedly.

9 years ago
Reply to  mom coblentz

I was overgeneralizing for the sake of brevity. Don’t count yourself too safe there, dear.


9 years ago
Reply to  Shari

so. are any of us actually exempt????

9 years ago
Reply to  Shaunda

Probably not.

9 years ago

I won’t be able to look at string cheese at Aldi’s without thinking about this story and the great challenge you presented to us through it.

9 years ago

Um. This lesson is definitely similar to one the Lord is teaching me. Convicting in a breath of fresh, bracing air kind of way!

9 years ago

I wonder how things would have gone had she snatched it up, squeezed it a moment, and then offered it to you? You would most likely have refused it and insisted she take it… which would have made you BOTH generous, and both feel blessed. And then you would have found the box for you. She missed an opportunity to consider others above herself, and stole your opportunity as well. But you handled it quite graciously, and I’m sure she thought back that evening as she tried to go to sleep, and wished she could have a do over. I’m experienced with those nighttime moments of clarity. Sigh**

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