Last week, I had two interactions with strangers that are still resonating with me. Which, of course, means it needs to be blogged, right?
Let’s start with Stranger #1, I’ll call her Shelly.
Gianna and I made a quick run to Party City for a few last-minute party things. The store was largely empty except for a few employees and a couple of shoppers. We putted around quickly, found what we needed and found the only open register. I sortof sighed because it seemed to be taking forever and I had a very hungry baby on my hands. The window of non-screaming shopping was about to close in 3…2…1.
As we edged our way to the front, Shelly and her little one were just in front of us. She had made some nice conversation with the couple in front of her, along with the cashier, and they all seemed like old friends. I thought to myself, “She seems so nice.” Next, it was her turn at the register, she glanced back at Gianna and I, winked and said, “Boy, she has beautiful eyes. Those must be from you.” No one ever says that to the brown-eyed mama with the big blue-eyed baby. Then, she turned to the cashier and complimented her nails, reminding her how beautiful they looked. The cashier was a little startled to have someone even notice and barely mumbled a ‘thank you.’ Shelly and I chatted a bit and then she, too, made her way to the exit. I quickly paid and headed to the van. Just as I finished loading Gianna in the van, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.
Shelly was waving, and as she gets in her car she says, “Some days are hard, aren’t they?” To which I replied, “Every day is a new day!” And Shelley said back, “Thank God for that. Have a blessed day!” and then she hopped in her car and off she went.
And for a moment I just stood there. Three people. Three interactions. Each of them began with a compliment and ended with a blessing. We were all strangers to her, yet she was just so – nice. Kind. Thoughtful. And it got me thinking if I treated others the same, namely the people in my house.
Now, for Stranger #2. I’ll call him Ed.
I was headed to speak to a mom’s group early Friday morning when I found myself thick in Austin traffic. Every single route had a wreck and I could feel my blood pressure rising. In an effort to make some headway, I veered off the freeway, onto a side street to avoid the back up of red lights. At the stoplight, I noticed this biker. He was clearly no amateur. His muscled legs gave him away. I remember thinking, dang, I really need to keep working on my PT homework for my knee. That guy would totally kick my a**.
He was hanging in the bike lane (they are literally everywhere in Austin). When the light turned green, off we all went. At first I noticed him veer in my lane, so I slowed down to move left, but there was a truck, boxing me in. And then I noticed it. No bike lane. But before I could correct, Ed pulled his bike in front of my van and SCREAMED at me. Like, it was embarrassing. Then he huffed off down the road and there I was, in my Honda minivan fighting back tears. I mean, I felt like the four-year-old who just spilled the milk and got scolded. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t shake his words. The look on his face. A huge part of me wanted to chase him down, roll down my window and apologize, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good. He was too angry and I was too hurt.
Then it hit me. I was letting this whole “thang” get in the way of my prayer time on the way to visit with these mothers. And I decided not on my watch. So, Mr. Ed I profusely apologize for realizing too late that your bike lane didn’t exist, but your anger wasn’t going to taint my time with God.
And I moved on.
Oh, and the talk went beautifully. Those women were a kind and loving bunch.
Moral of the story? Shopping is good for your soul and damn you Austin bike lanes! Truly, words matter, y’all. People’s reactions to situations matter. How you treat others, friends and strangers, matters. Who knew that a friendly stay-at-home mom and an angry bicyclist would teach me so much about our reactions and our need to be Jesus to all we meet? Well played, God. Well. Played.