About a month or two ago I was serving a customer at work when I felt like I should stop and let them know I would be praying for them.
I can’t explain why or how, but I just suddenly knew inside of me that I needed to pray for this lady and her child. And I needed to tell her that I would be praying.
As I went to get something for the customer, I fought an internal fight against myself and my own pride.
I didn’t want to scare her. I wasn’t interested in looking weird or strange.
I knew I should let her know I would be praying for her child, who was wearing a scarf around their head, covering up the bald shiny part underneath.
Most likely cancer and chemo.
As I went back to the customer I had determined in my mind to say something. But when I opened my mouth, I found myself telling them to “have a good day.”
Paralyzed. Worried more about what THEY thought of me than what HE thought of me.
I went home that day feeling guilty and truly just sad that I hadn’t had the courage to speak up. Who knows what the simple sentence, “I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to be praying for you. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be keeping you in my prayers,” could have done for the mother of that clearly sick, pale, weak child.
Lifted her spirits, given her hope, or maybe simply showed her that someone notices and someone cares.
But I was too caught up on ME. What will she think of me? What if it sounds weird? What if she doesn’t pray and it offends her?
All about ME.
I got home and for days the mother and her child were on my heart. I prayed for them multiple times and, to this day, still remember them. I’ve asked God for another chance, another shot at speaking up, while knowing I will probably never see them again.
I regretted saying nothing, and promised I wouldn’t stay silent in that situation again.
He gave me my chance Monday afternoon. If I hadn’t been looking for it, I honestly might have just missed it and let it go right on by without noticing.
I was at work when another mother and her child came up to me. The mom was very nice and friendly, while the daughter was a tad shy and quiet. Friendly, though. They talked about what they were doing next…going back home to the little girls brothers. I asked her how many she has, and as the mom turned to look at the little girl, awaiting her answer, I saw a patch on the moms head where there was no hair.
I averted my eyes as to not make her uncomfortable as I heard the word, “three.”
“Oh! I have three brothers, too!” I said as I smiled at her. “Are yours older or younger? I’m the oldest.”
“They’re all older,” the mom said. It was about this time that I knew she was sick. There was no scarf, but the big patch of not-there-hair was hard to miss. The rest of her hair was cut short, and she wasn’t bothering to hide it.
We continued the conversation and I was struck with two things: one, they were both just so friendly and happy…though the mom was obviously fighting for her life, or had just gone through the fight of her life.
Two, this was my moment that I had asked for. What was I going to do with it?
The little girl coughed and I knew that could be my way to start a potentially awkward conversation. Something along the lines of, “Oh, is she sick?” could possibly lead to the mom talking about her own illness.
But before I could do anything, the mom suddenly mentioned her own sickness, and I quickly jumped at the chance and said, “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s wrong?”
“I have brain cancer. I’m going through chemo right now.”
I think at that moment there were some angels singing. Partly because they knew I had taken a step, though it was small. And partly because, well, my Story…my Story involves a surprise brain tumor and brain cancer? The thought of chemo? I can relate. I’ve almost had to go down that road. I’ve faced showing up to let basically-strangers open up your head.
And here was a lady that I could witness to in the simple way of letting her know I had walked the road. She wasn’t completely alone, and I would be praying.
As she talked about the cancer found in the back of her head, I waited for my chance to tell her that I had had a tumor in the back of my own head. “It wasn’t cancer, and thank God, but I do understand some of what you’ve gone through.”
“Oh yes, thank God for that!”
A sister-in-Christ standing right in front of me that I could encourage. Because I was looking. Because I had seen the opportunity. Because He allowed the scales to fall from my eyes so that I could see, and my mouth to open so that the right words could tumble out.
We continued talking, and as she looked around she noticed two of her pastors nearby. I asked what church she goes to, and was quite surprised (though I shouldn’t have been because God? He likes to use the little things to get my attention) to find that she goes to the church where my grandpa used to be the pastor.
Of course she does.
*It’s a small world after all…* continued to play as our conversation went on, and then the mom had to leave. She gave me her number and I laid it on the counter. When I went to grab it at the end of work, it was gone.
No number. No way of really reaching her. Except that those pastors come in pretty regularly and I’m all set and ready to strike up a conversation with them next time. To get her number or email…just some way to contact her. Let her know I’m still praying.
If you’d like to join me, please pray for M.
And please also consider taking the small step you know you need to take…before the moment for that small step to be taken has passed.