(Photo credit: Mike Mozart)
Growing up, my dad always stressed the importance of safety and self-awareness. His motto was/is that this world is a bad place and he wanted to do his best to prepare me to be aware and take care of myself. I admire that in him. Sometimes this mentality is a pro and a con. We don’t want to live in fear, but we also want to be wise and aware.
Well, I am my father’s daughter. I live in a worst-case scenario world a lot. Don’t sit in a parking lot with your door open. Don’t leave identifying or tempting items in your unattended car for bad people to find. Don’t answer the door if you don’t know someone. Don’t talk on the phone while leaving a store and always have your keys in your hand before walking to your car…
I could go even further down my checklist for you, but my safety rules aren’t the point of this post.
Just recently, I was asked the question “Where do you see Jesus in the world, in others, and in your life.” The first two points were puzzling to me because, I don’t know, I guess I just see so much brokenness that it’s hard to see places where Jesus settles in the world. I mean, I see it in nature and I see it in those closest to me. And I do see how he works in my life. But I was straining really hard to find an answer. And it made me sad.
I just said a little prayer in my heart, “Jesus, open my eyes to you in the world.”
Yesterday I had to run some errands with the kids in tow. When I’m flying solo with the kids I’m always 200% aware because the ratio of kids to adults is off. I just want to be as safe as I can when I’m with them by myself.
So we were at The Black Hole (aka Target). I did my damage and then made my way to the car to begin loading everyone in. I loaded my bags into the car, wrangled the kids in their seats, and as I went behind the car to break down the stroller a suburban pulled up behind my car, trapping me in. Of course my initial thought is that this is a bad person because that’s the way I’m wired. My adrenaline immediately began pumping. But my concern was addressed quickly by an older lady driving the suburban. She rolled down her window and said, “Merry Christmas!” Then she explained…
“I was waiting to pull out until you got your kids in the car. I know anything can happen in parking lots and I know it’s hard to be aware of everything when you’ve also got the kids with you. So I was just keeping an eye on you to make sure you were okay. And I loved watching you with your kids. You’re an amazing mama. I hope you have a blessed Christmas!”
And she drove off.
And I was left with the warmest, fuzziest feeling from my safety, self-awareness, anything-can-happen-in-a-parking-lot soul sister.
And even though she may not be a believer and this is an example of human goodness…to me, this was evidence of Jesus in the world, showing me that people can be good and that there are people who do good and look out for each other.
How wonderful, that he knew my concern being a mom out-and-about with her two toddlers and worrying about what bad could happen, and he placed a woman in the same time and space that had the same concern. Not only that, she spoke the exact words to me that I needed to hear…
“You’re an amazing mama.”
Because sometimes, especially yesterday, I don’t feel like such an amazing mama. I get mad easily and snap. I’m impatient. I expect too much. And because of that, I feel like the worst. Most of the time I own up to these things and apologize. (Other times I’m stubborn and it takes a little longer for me to catch on.) And I just pray that my kids can sense that vulnerability even now to see that I’m imperfect but that I’m doing my best to own my mistakes and that I love them exponentially.
So every ounce of my exchange with this stranger in a Target parking lot was dripping with morsels directly from Jesus straight into my thirsty soul.
Because he knew what I needed.
And thank you, Lady in the Target Parking Lot. For showing goodness and kindness to a stranger. And for making me aware that I need to be aware of other mamas too. Pay it forward and have the backs of other women. You opened my eyes. Thank you.
Now go give the warm fuzzies to a stranger today. It may just be what they need.