Sometimes, looking like a crazy woman with a few kids more than she can handle has its privileges.

Last week, I took some of the kids shopping at one of those mega-store Super Centers. I won’t tell you the name of the chain. Let’s just say it starts with “Wal” and ends with a headache. Every time.

I do not relish spending time in these places. But when you live where I do and every last member of your household needs socks, you don’t have much of a choice. As every country bumpkin knows, when it comes to shopping in the boonies, beggars can’t be choosers.

Well last week I was really begging. One of the difficulties of having children close in age, it turns out, is that the bigger baby graduates from riding strapped into the cart before he’s truly ready for the privilege. He’s too little for the responsibility of in-store freedom and plenty big enough to exploit the situation.

Which brings us to the begging. “Raphael, please stay with Mama,” I whined, and “Girls, would you please stop him from pulling the entire line of Scooby Doo underwear from the shelves and throwing it onto the floor?” Please!

With every moment, our little Raphzilla became bolder and more daring. And, with every moment, I became more frazzled and exhausted. When I neared the end of my shopping list, I finally scooped up my little terror and held his kicking, squealing body fast under one arm as I ran through the aisles, pushing the cart with my other hand.

“Keep up, girls!” I shouted over my shoulder as Raphael shrieked and made mad swipes at the contents of other shoppers’ carts.

Of course there were long lines at every register. I found what looked to be the shortest one with the smallest quantity of breakable merchandise on display and tried to maneuver my cart into line.
A childless threesome cut me off. I said nothing. The meek shall inherit the earth, right? I thought of a college professor I had who liked to twist that to “The meek shall inherit the dirt.”

Such is the paradox of Christian thinking. To be meek is to have no illusions of our own grandeur. To be meek is to recognize all human greatness as God’s alone instead of our own. To be meek is to understand that each of us, without God, is nothing. Never mind inheriting the earth — on our own, each of us is dirt. But it is through our meekness that we open ourselves up to receiving greatness — the inheritance of eternal happiness that comes only from God.

Besides, accepting the dirt in the meantime is not without its consolations. As I stood there in that register line, I held tight to my tantruming toddler, thanked God that my newborn was still somehow sleeping, and gritted my teeth for the long wait ahead.
It was then that God sent me an angel. In the form of a Wal-you-know-where cashier. She came up behind me and said quietly, “I am about to open Register 10.”

The threesome heard her. They made anxious gestures in her direction and gathered their purchases. “Register 10?” they said. “You’re opening Register 10?”

“Actually,” my angel smiled at them as she waved me toward her register, “I was speaking to this lady right here.” Sweet justice! The meek might inherit the dirt sometimes. But Register 10? That baby was all ours.

Danielle Bean writes from

Belknap, New Hampshire.