We are nowhere and everywhere all at the same time, can I get a witness? Yep, that’s a Mom. And because we are so ‘out and about,’ we have one of the greatest opportunities there is.
To keep an ear to the ground. Yes, that! Wait. What? Meaning to keep your ears sensitive to what you are hearing from others as you are about your business. This may seem crazy to some but I am constantly amazed at the many people I meet while out running errands, eating in a restaurant, chatting over coffee: if you listen, you will hear the stories from those who have hurts, needs, anger, grief and all the rest.
My husband has often mocked me for lingering a little too long, chatting with someone who is pouring out their heart. My response to him: “how could I leave this person while they were in the middle of telling me about_____,and crying?” While I need to be more aware of those in my family waiting on me, I have long since been a listener and I hope a listener to those who need someone to hear them.
I could go on and on with stories over the years of a “chance” encounter with someone who eventually pours out her heart. I believe this is a gift from God. Truly. Some may think this is a curse, but I disagree wholeheartedly. God gifts each of us with the ability to connect to others and be ‘Jesus with skin on,’ as I call it. Certainly there are days when I don’t feel like connecting to someone in need. It’s like I want to press an invisible button or something and disappear. In my own strength and energy I just don’t have what it takes. This is when I (we) need to tap into God’s unending strength and discernment. It is He who empowers us to do His work. I’m quite sure I’ve missed a real blessing many times when I’ve selfishly decided not to allow a connection with someone who needs a listening ear. Don’t misunderstand: nothing in me; rather, Christ in me.
Recently, while shopping at a local fave haunt of mine, I encountered a woman working the cash register, greeting each customer as they entered the store. After perusing the store, I made my way to the front of the store again to make an exit when she began telling me some personal things about herself. It spilled out, little by little. I learned she lost her oldest son nearly a year ago. She was devastated and even admitted that she wanted to end her life at the time of his passing. I was able to interject a few words of encouragement and proclaim God’s faithfulness and peace during difficult times in our lives. Her response was one of faith. I walked away receiving a blessing knowing that for whatever reason, our paths were meant to cross on that particular day, at that particular time. Now, every time I visit this store, she remembers me and greets me. People are hurting. They are in real need of someone who cares. Sometimes, a simple smile communicates that you care.
My challenge to you, is to be aware of your surroundings. Notice those around you as you are about the busyness of your day. It doesn’t require much time, just a simple smile, a knowing nod, a simple statement: “I’m praying for you,” can mean everything to someone who may not have anyone in their live to encourage them. You may just be that ‘cool cup of water’ to refresh someone’s soul. Trust me, you’ll be the one receiving a blessing for taking a minute to notice someone and their need.