Despite my own internal harsh dialogue, I pushed myself to squeeze out “How’s your day going?”
“It just keeps getting worse!”
Oh what a surprise—negativity, I thought sarcastically. Of course she’d say that, so I immediately dismissed her. I’ve been there many times before and she always seems to have a negative attitude. I couldn’t think of anything to say, as I wrestled for something positive and encouraging. All that I could immediately come up with were clichés and brainless regurgitations of canned encouragement. I was trapped in my head, and not in touch with my heart. So that’s the best I could do. Knowing it was insufficient, I decided to be quiet.
Minutes in silence, as I watched her piece my sandwich together. Then I blurted, “Well, your hair looks really nice!” And she managed a smile, as she kept her head down working.
The silence was broken by a male voice yelling from somewhere in the back of the kitchen, “My foot! My foot!”
I noticed she kept right on building my sandwich, never missing a beat. I wondered, did he really hurt himself? So to prompt her to go find out, I asked: “Do you think he really got hurt?”
She shook her head and said, “He’s always playing like that. It gets on my nerves!”
I added, “Well, maybe he’ll stop that one day when he really hurts his foot. Like the boy who cried wolf.”
She managed a smile.
Then she rung up my order, and handed me eleven dollars in change. I was strongly compelled at that moment, and went with the feeling. I softly slide back the money to her and said, “I know you guys don’t typically get tips, but I want you to have this tonight.”
“Oh! You’re gonna make me cry.”
I touched her arm in a reassuring manner. She poured out how her tooth is killing her and her medication is home, and she has no family living here to assist. She has to wait until she gets out in 2 hrs. My heart hurt for her. I could instantaneously feel the pain of her isolation. I know what it feels like to be far away from family, and to feel alone.
At the close of our talk, I walked away humbled, feeling the sting of the abrupt judgment I easily passed. Tonight I had a rare journey into her suffering. God Bless her. I prayed for her all the way home. I got emotional as I reflected on how my judgment would never have allowed me to see her vulnerability. I would have missed another one of God’s masterpieces.
I believe that because I obeyed God’s urging, to give her that money, He allowed me to see behind the veil of her hardened shell—to the side he knows. I know this to be sacred—an opportunity to look into another’s heart.
Later this evening, my dear friend Anna, a single mom herself, called me. She was having anxiety and as a consequence, had pain in her chest. She was so tearful, feeling so overwhelmed. We prayed together. She cried when she said that I am like a sister to her.
Apologetic for calling late, she said: “I know you’ve told me I can call you anytime. But I never like to call late. But tonight I did because just before going to bed, I listened to a message you left me today, where you said ‘I love you.’ “
Interesting enough, (and no surprise with God’s perfect timing), earlier today I was compelled to call and see how she was feeling. But didn’t reach her, so I left a message. The phone kept cutting me off and erasing the messages. I grew frustrated with that, and persisted, because I felt so strongly that I had to leave her a message. So I decided to outsmart the machine and be extra brief—which is a severe challenge for me. Finally I called back and only said the essential, that I was wondering how she was feeling and that I love her.
Little did I know that God was working through me to reach her, to reassure His daughter. Tonight she was feeling isolated and alone. When she needed it the most, she discovered my message. And that is what prompted her to call me and reach out this evening.
I often hear the phrase: “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” How blessed I am, that tonight I experienced two examples back-to-back of how He works His mysteries.
These days I am trying to have my eyes open to His urgings and prompts. I feel that by doing so, I am being obedient to His will. I don’t know how what I am doing is going to impact others, or what chain reaction it might set off. But I am excited by the thought of how He will use my obedience. I am humbled by the thought of this.
I think this evening our Heavenly Father wanted me to get a glimpse of Him and His mysteries. But mostly, a glimpse into His love. The love He has for us all. He allowed me to witness the effect of my obedience. We are so blind to what occurs in everyone’s private moments. We cannot see the grief and suffering that only God sees. I am humbled that tonight God would use a mere spiritually adolescent child as myself, flawed and non-deserving of this privilege, as a vehicle to weave his masterful work.
Copyright 2011 Ella Venezia
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