14 Cars Deep

I saw something this morning that intrigued me.

After working out I decided to get a Vivanno at Starbucks.  I was headed home to shower and then headed to the airport,  so I was short on time. I pulled into the parking lot expecting to go through the drive-thru. But when I pulled around the building to get in line,  I saw the most unbelievable chain of cars I have ever seen in a Starbucks drive-thru. There were  14 cars.

14 cars waiting in line.

I literally think my mouth fell open because this isn't one of those deceptive drive-thru lines where you can't really see how long the line is.  And, it's also not one of those lines that traps you in with curbs and walls so that once you're in... you're in.  No, this drive-thru is the most freeing drive-thru ever! You can clearly see the line of cars ahead of you and you can always make an educated decision. To wait or not to wait.  And if you change your mind, you can pretty much get out of the line at anytime. There is ample room in this back-parking-lot-turned-drive-thru to politely abdicate your espresso throne and move on with your life. There is no long term commitment required for this line. You can jump in or jump out; and you always know how many cars you've got left before placing your order.

Why then, were all these people knowingly waiting in such a long line, when the store itself was completely empty?

I was baffled.

My first judgmental reaction was, "Lazy Americans."

Of course, this is the easy way out. To categorize, assume, and belittle. To rely on empty jargon, statistics, or old family hearsay that says 'most people are lazy'. To speak without thinking, to believe without asking questions, to categorize without actually knowing anyone personally in that category... well, that's an easy thing to do. To make declarations about the American people as a whole- based on the line at Starbucks no less- is quite simply ridiculous. I'm American.  And I work hard. My husband is American. And he works hard. Hillary Clinton is American. And she works hard. The porter at DFW airport that we see on a weekly basis... he's American. And he works really hard.

I chastised myself right then and there for throwing around empty jargon that only demoralizes people. We may not be lazy, but sometimes I sense that I have gotten caught up in one of America's greatest talents right now: the ability to demonize those who believe differently than us.

Still, I needed to settle the issue. Why are so many people waiting in line when the store is completely empty? If not laziness, perhaps I thought, they are the kind of people who like to be offended and made angry. Sitting in a ridiculously long line gives them another reason to be annoyed at somebody else in the world. Or maybe they legitimately don't realize they are 14 cars deep.  Maybe they are just clueless. Still, those are both negative. I'm assuming it's a line of angry people or stupid people. Who gives me the right to point my finger and determine what kind of people they are?  Labeling others as stupid or angry is equally demoralizing as calling them lazy. I chastised myself again.  I really am trying not to label people. I'm really trying to beat out my knee-jerk reactions and give people the benefit of the doubt. I had a friend who once said that giving people the benefit of the doubt is the best gift you can give them. And I should know. I'm given the benefit of the doubt all the time.

I decided to stop making assumptions about these people and why they were waiting in a completely asinine line for a cup of coffee.

And that's when it hit me (after I stopped judging). A whisper challenged all my notions and quietly spoke this question into my mind,

"Maybe these people are waiting in an absurd line for the simple fact that they get to wait. Did you ever think of that, Jenny?"

Well of course I didn't, Lord. I was way too busy writing them off as lazy, mean, stupid people.

But when I got past all of that, then, and only then, was I reminded of their humanity.

Maybe they wanted to wait. Maybe the idea of being able to sit in line for ten minutes and do nothing was the soul food they needed to get through their days. Maybe they stayed up late fighting with their wives or looking at the checkbook and wondering how it would all come together that month. Maybe they were trying to get four kids out the door or taking care of their elderly parent before heading off to face the 9 to 5 job that leaves them feeling like a machine. Maybe they were going through heartbreak or maybe they just needed to listen to a song and worship. Maybe their days are crammed full of noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.

Maybe they wanted to wait. Maybe they needed to wait.

Maybe their brains were screaming for a break. Maybe their eyes were screaming for a break. Maybe their tired bodies were screaming for a break. Maybe their souls were screaming for a break. Maybe they fill each and every inch of space in their lives with something and crawl into bed each night wondering why they are so tired? So alone? So empty? So blank?

Maybe they are sitting in this line because something deep in them longs to slow down. Longs to be delayed. Longs to be stuck in a line that forces them to stop.

And maybe they are just sitting in their car's checking email and my new insight into their lives is completely off target and way too over analyzed. The truth is, each person chose to stay in that line for a different reason.  A reason which I will never know.

But what I do know is this.  After I stopped judging these people, a thought came to me. What if they just need rest? What if this is the only time in their day when they just sit. They just breathe. They just exist.

And then the thought did what all good thoughts do.

It turned on me. It accused me. It probed me.

Jenny, you are a frenzy, scattered mess.

Perhaps you should consider sitting in a line fourteen cars deep.

Perhaps then you would remember what it feels like to be still.

Perhaps a long line is exactly what you need.

It was too late. I had already driven half way home as this conversation unfolded inside of me. But it got me thinking that maybe next time I should wait in the line.

Put my phone away. Turn the radio off. And just exist.

Something deep inside of us is crying out for rest.

Maybe people are finding it in the line at Starbucks.

Where are you finding rest?