I ran into the Dollar General with a heavy ten-month-old baby on my hip. I had just left the commissary for the first time, but it wasn't until I passed through the gate that I realized I’d forgotten to buy bowls. We had moved to Fort Polk just a few days earlier and l I was determined to fix a meal in the little kitchenette of the hotel room where we were temporarily staying. I hitched Gabe up on my hip and carried him into the store looking for paper bowls. I wandered up and the down the aisles, Gabe getting heavier and heavier like a squirmy bowling ball. He flips onto his tummy to tell me he wants down so he can crawl. I flip him back upright, telling him that he’s not going to crawl in Dollar General. Finally, I found the bowls and went to the front of the store to stand in line.
The person at the front of the line was attempting a complicated transaction that seemed to require returning items, purchasing new ones, writing multiple checks and a paper bag full of change. I impatiently bounced on the balls of my feet. The line started to grow behind me. The woman in front of me turned around and greeted Gabe. After being a hugely pregnant woman and now being a woman with a very smiley baby, I’m used to strangers smiling at me all the time. But something about this woman was different. She continued talking to us even after the usual pleasantries. I did my usual and gave her a half-smile back and answered her questions without giving her my full attention. Another line opened up. I paid for the bowls and on my way out the woman wished me Merry Christmas.
It hit me: that woman had been kind to me and I’d attempted to ignore her. Maybe she needed a friend just as much as I did and I didn’t realize it. At the time, I just wanted to get out of the store so I could put down the heavy, wiggly baby. But I think that we often run around with our blinders and earmuffs on, oblivious to what’s going on around us, too focused on the wiggly baby in our arms.
We ignore the person right in front of us who needs help simply because we’re in a hurry. We don’t hear what God is calling us to because the cacophony of our lives is deafening. We don’t stop to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation because the mosquitoes are biting us. How many opportunities for kindness do we miss? How many opportunities to share the gospel with our actions or our words pass by us without a thought? I was so preoccupied with being new and alone that it never occurred to me that other people were also new and alone. Oh God, help me to see outside of myself.
Discussion Question: How can we be more intentional in our interactions with others?
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