It was cold and rainy. I had several errands to get done in a short amount of time. I was in a hurry.
My first stop involved a return of a purchase I had made. The customer service line was long.
When my turn arrived, I asked the sales associate, “Aren’t you cold being so close to the door?”
“No. I wish it were five degrees colder. When I was going through that time of life I used to pack my feet in ice. Look, I’m wearing sandals. My feet still get hot. My doctor said I could take a little blue pill to feel better. But hell, I figured I earned the right to be witchy for a while, ya know? Why delay being witchy until later when you can be witchy now?”
I started to laugh. You know, the kind of laugh where you can’t stop because you’re really tired.
“That one really got you, didn’t it?”
She was right. Her words hit my funny bone.
Then she looked me straight in the eye and dropped a verbal bomb on me and everyone else in line.
“I suffer from severe depression and anxiety disorder. I take medicine. I was raped and beaten repeatedly starting when I was a young child and it went on for years. I came to believe that I deserved it. I married a loser. He abused me too. The only decent thing my Ex ever did was help produce two beautiful children.”
I stood there. Our eyes were locked on each other. The man behind me just wanted to buy a shirt. The two women behind him had their arms full of Christmas gifts. The silence was uncomfortable.
I told her I was sorry she had been treated so badly.
She went on to keep talking.
“One of my sons is bipolar and schizophrenic. How does that happen? Okay for years and then diagnosed with a mental illness.”
She kept telling me about her son. I had finished my transaction and needed to leave. The line behind me was getting longer. I touched her hand and she grabbed mine. I told her I’d pray for her.
Her eyes filled with tears and she wouldn’t let go of my hand.
This scenario happens to me often. Random and out of the blue, women share their private stories in public places with me.
Later that afternoon it happened again. I was getting my nails done. The woman next to me told me her life story of being married to an abusive husband and trying to raise three children. We were surrounded by people, complete strangers. She didn’t hold back any details.
I’m learning that it must be safer to share such personal information with a stranger. There’s less fear of being judged and criticized, it seems, by those who hardly know you. No baggage with strangers.
That morning I had asked God to show me how I can serve Him — “serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13)
I have a rare and incurable neurological disease. It can be difficult for me to serve God when my body is racked with unrelenting nerve pain. When pain drains your brain of the ability to cope with life it can be difficult to think about serving others.
I have learned though that if I put God first, He empowers me to push through my pain and — “in humility value others above yourself”(myself). (Phil. 2:3)
God has given me the opportunity on many occasions — to listen to heartbreaking stories — to be “kind to one another, tenderhearted” (Eph. 4:32)to those who have been deeply wounded.
Awareness is the key to being used by God the way He wants you to be.
I pray that God will make me aware of those who are wounded and heartbroken and He always does.
Do You See Me?
The walking wounded are everywhere,
Waiting for someone to reach out and care.
The world is harsh and unfair.
So many hurting people in despair,
Wanting to voice their troubles and share,
How much they are in need of prayer.
Please open your eyes and be aware,
How desperately they need you to care!