Be Careful What You Watch

by | Jun 1, 1999 | Priorities, Treasure

The only thing worse than shopping is watching someone shop. Except for my wife, of course. I don’t mind at all following her around a mall for two or three hours. I show my interest periodi­cally with pleasant little grunts-“Umph”; “Uh-huh”; “Ahh-hum.” Sometimes I get downright wordy-“Yes”; “No”; “Sure”; “HOW MUCH!” I’ve gotten pretty quick at correcting that one, “Wow, what a deal!” I hastily add. About the closest thing I can compare “shopper watching” to would be watching a sewing match.

Which is why I’m sitting in the food court writing while my wife and youngest daughter, Hannah, shop. It’s one of those outlet malls where they sell you the flawed stuff “on sale.” My oldest daughter, Sarah, who is 10 years old, is with me; reading. She doesn’t like shopping, either-yet. I informed her on the way to our “food court refuge” of the gene in her–which God gave all women-that simply hasn’t kicked in yet. Told her not to worry, it’ll happen.

[This was first written three years ago in my book Intercessory Prayer. Sarah is now 13 and her mother is proud to inform you that Sarah’s shopping gene has fully kicked in. She is maturing nicely in this essential aspect of womanhood. I’m still eating in food courts-by myself now-and “umph”ing once in a while.]

In my studies of this genetic plague-most of them done through conversing with other men in food courts-I have discovered that no one knows for sure when the gene kicks in or what triggers it. It can hit anytime between the ages of 6 and 13. Sometimes it happens in the middle of the night; they just wake up with the shakes-flu-like symptoms. When it happened with Hannah, I was ready to anoint her with oil, until my wife, Ceci, informed me it wouldn’t help.

“What do you mean it won’t help?” I asked in surprise. “Of course it will.”

“No,” she said, “it’s her shopping gene kicking in. We’ve got to get her to a mall-fast.”

Mom was right, of course. She usually is. Hannah came home proudly holding her shopping bag, looking like she’d just caught her first fish. Women! Who can figure?

To prove my point, I just counted the men and women in the food court and surrounding stores-26 females and 9 males. Half the males were kids that had been dragged there against their wills. Another was writing-yours truly-and the rest were grunting, “Uh-huh.” I felt sorry for one guy; he actually looked like a zombie. I think he finally cracked under the stress. Either that or he was suffering from food-court food poisoning.

Ceci and Hannah are back now, getting something to drink and showing us their “deals.” I’m grunting. Ceci is merely dropping Hannah off so she can run back for one more thing. Seven year-olds-apprentice shoppers-can’t always keep up with the pros. They haven’t had enough aerobics classes, for which the real motivation is shopping conditioning.

[Hannah is, of course, now 11, and her stamina is increasing regularly. Ceci assures me that she and Sarah are both right on schedule in this all important phase of development-she urged me “not to worry.” The thought never crossed my mind!]

Why couldn’t God have made women to like normal things, such as sitting in a woods for days in sub-zero weather, waiting for a deer or elk to walk by? Now that’s my idea of exciting watching! … Or watching a football game! I’m not into TV too much-unless it’s a good sporting event. Ceci doesn’t always understand me in this area, but she is kind about it. “Who are you rooting for?” She sometimes asks.

“I don’t care who wins,” I often reply.

“Are these any of your favorite teams?”

“No, not really.”

“A favorite player or two, perhaps?”

“Naw, I don’t know much about these guys at all.”

“Then why are you watching the game?” She asks with a quizzical expression.

“Because it’s football,” I reply as patiently as I possibly can. Sometimes people can’t figure out the obvious. I’ll tell you what puzzles me-why she and my two daughters like to watch stuff that makes them cry. Go figure!

Many kinds of watching take place: TV watching, parade watching, watching the clock, stock market watching, bird watching (ranks right up there with sewing matches to me) and a thousand other things. I like to watch kids laugh. I hate to watch people cry. I’ve watched individuals born; I’ve watched others die.

I once watched a lady in San Pedro, Guatemala, look for a watch. It was her husband’s-he died in the earthquake of 1976. So did three of her kids. All she and her surviving infant had left were the clothes on their backs. Their small adobe home was a mound of dirt.

When our interpreter asked her what she was digging for, she replied. “A bag of beans we had and my husband’s watch. He was sleeping about here when he was killed,” she said, pointing at an area of approximately 10 square feet. “It would mean so much to me if I could find his watch.”

We started digging. Although it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, we asked God to help us and waded into the three-feet-deep dirt. Right then I’d have charged hell for that watch. We found it an hour or so later.

“Muchas gracias,” she repeated through tears, as she clutched the inexpensive watch to her breast.

“Treasure” is such a relative term, I thought as I wiped my eyes. I wish the world could see this. Maybe some priorities would change.

I watched another quake victim, holding her three-year-old daughter, walk away from a food line in which I was serving. She was the last in line for the soup. As she held out the jar she had found, we looked at her and said, “No mas” (which means “No more”). Then I watched her walk away, holding her hungry child. Things got all messed up at that point in my life. Neat little lists of needs disappeared. Certain important goals became strangely irrelevant. Things that mattered suddenly didn’t. Bank accounts were looked at differently, success was redefined. Funny how one glance into four eyes can bring such chaos. In many ways, order has never been restored.

Be careful what you watch.

Watchman Prayer by Dutch Sheets, p. 9-13. Copyright 2000 Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003 Used by Permission


Be Careful What You Watch