Wednesday, April 4, 2018

what running into someone in the grocery store taught me

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about ministry, and how that word intimidates me.  I wrote about how I never had thought that I had a "ministry" that God had given me, but then He started showing me all the little opportunities He presents to me throughout the course of a week.  To read the entire post, you can click here

Well, would you believe the Lord has given me even more opportunities to share His love?  It should not surprise me, honestly, but it still just makes my breath catch sometimes, how I will be discouraged about something, pray, and then He will answer it so fast to encourage me again.  (He doesn't always answer fast, though, but lately in my life, He has been.)

About a week ago, I was in our local grocery store, meandering up and down the aisles at a brisk pace, when I ran into a lady from our church.  I will not share her name, to respect the privacy of their family situation, and I won't share about what she told me, because that's not the point, and that privacy thing again.  Anyway, I was on the coffee aisle when I ran into this sweet lady.  I love her so much and know her family extremely well, so I was very comfortable greeting her by "Mrs.___" and her first name and giving her a hug.  I asked her how she had been, and this is what she said.  "Oh, sweetie.  I'm not going to tell a lie.  I have been better." 

She told me everything she had been going through with her family, and she even broke down on me a few times and started crying, because in a way that I cannot even imagine, I knew that her heart was literally aching over all the turmoil that one of her children were going through.  I just listened as she talked, and a few times I held her hand and I hugged her two more times, with a promise to pray for all of them, and her child, and to continue to do so.  I also told her that I could relate a little to what she was going through, because I'd seen a few people I'm close to suffer from the same thing. 

And then when I got to my car, I broke down as I started praying for all of them, and prayed down heaven on behalf of this precious lady and her family.

Most times when I pray, I cannot help the tears that fall. 

I was telling my husband about all this when he got home, and in the middle of the story, I was struck with admiration for this woman of God.  How many times do we have someone ask us how we are, and even if we are literally falling apart, do we answer back to them, "I'm fine, how are you?"  I know I have.  I do that all the time, because I think, oh, they don't really want to know my mess.  And sometimes that is right.  Not everyone does want to know.  But the ones who do, that I can tell apart from the other ones?  Why wouldn't I tell them everything?

I think we respond that way because we want everyone to think that we have all our junk together.  (Like I said before, I am preaching to myself here.)  It's like we think that as believers, we think we shouldn't be falling apart and dealing with the mess that sometimes occurs within families, like this sweet lady had told me about in her family.  I think that sometimes we think we will just be able to pull ourselves together and shake the feelings of despair.  But, NONE OF THAT IS TRUE, my friends.  Not a bit of it.  Jesus never promised we would have an easy "go" of it, once we became believers and followers of Him.  In fact, He said the opposite in the book of John. 

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  You will have suffering in this world.  Be courageous!  I have conquered the world."  John 16:33.

We will have trouble, some translations of that verse says.  There will be turmoil, strife, suffering, sickness, death, mental illness, and many more things.  But in Jesus, we have peace, for those of us who are believers and followers of Him.  Also, about my sweet friend that day in the grocery store, she had no shame whatsoever in admitting to me all she was going through in her family life. 

My response prodded her to share more, I'm sure.  I genuinely cared about what she was saying, I asked her questions, I listened to what she was saying, I held her hand, I did NOT make her feel ashamed, I shared with her an experience of those I knew that had gone through something similar like I said before, and then I hugged her and promised to pray, and THEN I PRAYED.  I am still praying for them!  I don't tell you these things to make myself look good, because for the millionth time I will tell you that there is NOTHING good in me except Jesus.  But friends.  The Lord Himself gave me that divine appointment in the Kroger that day by putting me on her aisle, and He knew that I would be a listening ear and a shoulder for her to cry on.  He knew that I would pray for her and would continue to long after I saw her.  He knew that I was genuine in my reactions and that I would not heap any shame upon her. 

I tell you all these things for a few reasons, the first being that I want to just boast upon the Lord.  Look at what He did in this situation, by making us run into each other.  Look at how He encouraged me through this sweet lady.  She seriously inspired me to be more forth coming with situations in my life that I deal with.  I still haven't stopped thinking about her. 

The second reason is that I want to encourage you in your response when you run into people like this.  We have to be super careful how we react to situations when people tell us things.  If I had spoken too much that day, she would have clammed up.  Sometimes we just need to be quiet and listen to what other people are telling us.  Also, we need to be mindful of the way our face looks.  This may sound silly, but I always try to look approachable, and I pray that the Lord makes me look that way.  He has answered this prayer, because you would not BELIEVE how many people tell me things about their lives.  If I walk around in a huge hurry all the time, or with a scowl on my face, nobody will ever tell me anything.  And friends, we are here to bear each other's burdens.

The third and last reason I share is that sometimes, we just need to own up to the junk that is sometimes in our lives, and share it with people.  I've been given a hard time about how much I share sometimes, but why would I not share?  I have major things that go on in my life, and when I share things, it is because either someone has asked me to or because I need people to pray for me.  There are some days that I am an emotional wreck, my friends, and I depend upon the prayers of my friends to help me get me out of that.  I take this verse VERY seriously, and I have been on the receiving end of it many times.

This verse reminds me time and again to share with others when I am going through the valleys.  It's why I've shared so much on Facebook recently about Tracy, my sister in love who just had a heart transplant.  (Tomorrow I'm dedicating my blog post to her, but I just need some more time to process all that I witnessed while were at Vanderbilt in Nashville during her surgery and the two days after that.)  It's why I tell you often what I hot mess I am.  On my best days I don't fall apart on someone at Kroger.  But even if I do, I pray that the Lord would place someone in my path that would just hug me, listen to me, and then pray for me.  I try to just treat others in a way that I would want to be treated, y'all.  It's not rocket science, and it's nothing that is just for me.  I think we should all do that to one another.  I'm not perfect, and I'll mess that up a million times before I get it right just one time, but that one time I know the Lord will use that in my life to "shake me out of it" and to remind me of these words He placed upon my heart.

I pray these words encourage you today.

Thanks for reading, friends.  Love to all. 

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