For months I thought of her. I kept seeing her face and hearing her voice...and seeing her tears. I kept her close to me in my thoughts and prayers. She was just one of the reasons I spent so much time with my Father in deciding how to show humble respect in my story telling.
Although I did not know it yet, God had kept her in my thoughts for a purpose that would simply blow my mind away. So in the meantime, I went over and over the words I could not remember saying to her. I prayerfully asked Father for the lesson and if I could put my heart onto paper...or this screen, it would have gone something like this:
-What did I say to her? Did they make a difference?
- Why does it matter to you?
-Can't I learn from this? What could I say differently? The same?
- This isn't about you.
-But she was so upset about having to work. And Christmas. And...
-What makes you think that is what she was truly upset about?
-Was it something I said?
-This isn't about you.
-But she was so sad!
-I know her pain and I love her, just like I love you.
-But I want to help her. I have so much I could say.
-Let it go.
(Just so you know, I do not mean to say I have full conversations like this with the Creator of our universe. I will tell you I could feel a very strong pull of me wanting to control the outcome because I thought I knew best. What I will also tell you is that it's not a good idea to argue with God. I mean afterall...you know...He's got bolts of lighting and stuff!)
SO, I entertained the thought that maybe I had misread this woman's tears. Maybe there was something more and I could have made things worse by saying things I thought she should hear. But I listened to His words in my heart and reminded myself:
He loves her just the way she is and just where she is. He loves her when she laughs and He loves her when she cries. He knows every little detail of her life...all the good and all the bad and He loves her. He knows what will reach and what won't. I don't and I needed to stop thinking I did.God loves her.
Too often we think we know best and sit in judgment of another's circumstances and try to give “good advice” by our cookie cutter responses. We see the woman whose infant is screaming at the top of its lungs as she frantically struggles to mix formula with water and we may think, “If she would have breastfed, her baby wouldn’t have to wait and cry.” We don’t even realize she just adopted.
We look at the woman in the grocery store with her three children as she fumbles while trying to keep track of them and we may think, “If only she would have left them at home.” We don’t know that her husband is in the military overseas and there is nobody at home to watch the kids.
We look at the Muslim woman wrapped in her Hijab and may avert our eyes from looking into hers. We’re not aware she’s experienced tragedy. Or that her family is seeking political asylum, and she doesn’t know a single friendly Christian person. Not a one and yet she holds onto hope that somehow honor can be restored.
How many things do you think my sobbing woman heard that day?
What do you think she remembered?
I don’t know. But I certainly hope it was what I said to her. Not because it was me but because I want her to remember that someone cared enough to stop and encourage her. That someone would pray for her and not all people will treat her poorly. I hope she saw Jesus.
What I do know is that God knew what would reach her and it was not by my own understanding. It would take months of praying for her and another quick errand on a sunny Friday afternoon to discover the true impact of my words.
But first, I still had to her let go.
Part III awaits...