I love shopping for groceries. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I like spending time in the grocery store, checking all of the regular items off of my list: bread, milk, fruits and vegetables. I like walking up and down each aisle, looking at all of the options in front of me, and choosing things that aren’t on the list just to see what they taste like. I’ve met many people who don’t share my love of grocery stores, but for me, they are one of my favorite places to be.
I love grocery shopping, but something strange happens to me each time I do it. After I check out and load the bags into the car, something changes within me. Somewhere between leaving the parking lot of the grocery store, and pulling into my driveway I begin to overestimate my own strength. When I look at all of those bags in the car, somehow I begin to believe that I can carry them all at once, all by myself, up the front steps and into the house. Even though, just a few minutes earlier, I needed a large metal shopping cart with wheels to hold them all, somehow I think I am capable of carrying every bag with just my own two hands.
Maybe you do this, too. If you do, then I would imagine that your neighbors have grown to love grocery shopping, too, as they watch you try to carry all those bags, fumble with your keys, and stagger up the steps and into your home. My neighbors come out onto their front lawns just to watch and laugh as I do it each week!
Battling with all of those bags after each trip to the supermarket reminds me that life is full of things that we simply can’t do all by ourselves. Life is best lived when we work together, when we’re part of a team, when we help out and allow others to help us out.
Every Thursday around lunch time, there is a team of people who have helped me to learn that it’s okay if you don’t get all of the groceries in one trip. The volunteers at TAP-IN define what it means to work together, to be a team. If you think that a shopping cart full of food is a lot to carry, imagine carrying over 2,600 pounds of cans, jars, boxes of pasta, bags of rice, and all kinds of other food into your pantry each week! That’s exactly what the volunteers at TAP-IN do every Thursday when they receive shipments from the Rhode Island Food Bank for our local food pantry. No one tries to carry it all, because no one could. So, they work together and on most days all of the food is put away in less than an hour. What’s even more amazing is that everyone is smiling the entire time!
Putting food into the pantry at TAP-IN also reminds me that if we are able to walk through a grocery store, with the freedom to choose items that we might like, pay for them, and bring them home to our kitchens, pantries, and refrigerators, then we are blessed. For many people, this is not possible. TAP-IN helps to provide for hungry people in our area. It’s another image of teamwork, partnership, and working together for good.
Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I think Jesus said this because he saw how people like you and I were prone to trying to do everything all by ourselves--and how this is not what God imagined for us. Life is meant to be lived in partnership with others. Life is better when we’re part of a team.
The volunteers who make TAP-IN such a huge success know that you can’t do it all alone. They know that teamwork makes the impossible possible, and it makes life more fun! I’m thankful for all that they’ve taught me about working together.
Check out TAP-IN’s space on the Barrington Patch or Facebook to find out more about all that they do. Who knows, maybe you’ll be lugging groceries into the food pantry with them sometime soon!