It all started with a look.
The odd thing is, no one knew she was looking.
My mom was shopping at Costco when a well-groomed woman tapped her on the shoulder.
“Excuse me. I don’t mean to bother you, but I really need to talk to someone. I’ve been walking around the store, looking at people, wondering who would take the time to listen and maybe give me some good advice. I’ve been watching you, and well…,” Her voice trailed off, making it clear that approaching a stranger wasn’t something she did on a regular basis.
She took a deep breath, gathered her courage, and continued. “It’s just that you have such a friendly face, and I though maybe you wouldn’t mind talking for just a minute”.
Mom put aside her agenda and didn’t give the melting frozen food in her grocery cart a second thought. Her full attention turned to the woman who’d been brave enough to reach out for help.
“I’d love to talk to you! What’s on your mind?”
So there they stood, between the peaches and the pastries. Two strangers. But, oddly, not. One sharing deep hurt, the other listening with the hope she could help. One needing a safe place to unload; the other providing a safe place to land.
As it turns out, the woman’s issue wasn’t all that unusual: she was in her second marriage and struggling with step-children.
She simply didn’t have anyone to really talk to. Yes, she had family. Yes, she had friends. Yes, she had neighbors. But for whatever reason, no one except the lady with the kind face in Costco seemed safe enough to genuinely divulge her heartache.
Do you realize how many people. Feel. Just. Like. Her?
Maybe, this very moment, you’re nodding your head, thinking, I get it. I’d rather unload on a stranger and risk rejection than share honestly with a friend and risk judgement.
Oh, how we need to be women who are safe for each other!
Women who listen. With a yes face. Yes, you are normal. Yes, you are not the only one. Yes, there is hope. Yes, you’ll get through this. Yes, I’ll help if I can.
So my mom and new friend talked. They smiled. They hugged.
Right in the middle of Costco.
Holy things don’t happen only at church. Holy things happen anytime, and anywhere one person pauses long enough to love another person, in whatever way the person needs it.Holy things happen anytime & anywhere one person pauses long enough to love another. Click To Tweet
My mom’s experience reminded me of a story I once read about Thomas Jefferson.
During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a rushing river where the bridge had been washed away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents.
After several plunged in and made it safely across, a stranger who’d been standing on the side asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation.
As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one of the group asked, “Why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. “All I know,” he said, “Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘Yes.’His was a ‘Yes’ face.”
(The Grace Awakening, C. Swindoll, Word, 1990, p. 6)
My mom had a “yes” face. That’s what made her different from everyone else at Costco. Too many of us, I fear, live with so much stress ourselves that’s it’s nearly impossible for us to help bear the burden of someone one else. And it shows. Unbearable stress on the inside eventually becomes unmistakable strain on the outside.
And so I must ask myself the obvious question: Do I have a “yes” face? With my family? With my co-workers? And even with strangers?
It’s a hard world out there.
Every person we pass has their own set of hopes and heartaches and hurts. The people we work with and live with do, too.
So here’s my prayer. Maybe you’d like to make it your prayer, too. “Lord, give me a ‘yes’ face. Give me the look that says, ‘You can approach me. I’ll take time to listen. I’ll help if I can. I am a safe place to land.'”
Could anything be more like Jesus?
May everyone who reads these words be a person who has “yes” face. And a “yes” heart. And may you find others who have “yes” faces, too.
At home. At work. And even at Costco.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:20a
If you haven’t watched this week’s short video on “Being a Positive Person in a Negative World” jump on over to my Facebook page (Donna Jones) and watch now. I’ll be sharing the second “Two Minute Tip for Being a Positive Person in a Negative World” this Wednesday at 2:30 pm PST. I’d love for you to join me. And don’t forget to share!
The world could use a few more positive “yes face” people right now, don’t you think?