I met an angel in a fashionable red coat yesterday. I liked her a lot. I wish I took a selfie with her, but maybe she wouldn’t have shown-up in pixels anyway. On Facebook, my picture of us would just be a blank spot I’d be leaning on, or bright-burning light I’d be hugging.
I know she was an angel, because only angels know that if they wait somewhere between a store’s check-out stands, and the parking lot entry, some mom will need them. My red-coated angel demonstrated this principle perfectly. It would be nice if average and bored individuals also applied this same principle to change the world.
I didn’t catch her name. We didn’t exchange business cards. But we exchanged something else (no, not germs). In exchange for her breathe of hope, life, and declaration of my dignity, she received my sincere gratitude. I consider this simple exchange, an exchange of love.
Shopping takes on a whole new definition when you have little kids. Pre-children, we used to shop because it was fun or soothing or we just had to grab something quickly. Now we moms shop because we either have nothing to do and we need human interaction (but we don’t actually talk to people there), or we have too much to do and a list of eighty-million things that must be bought that exact moment with these exact fussy kids in-tow.
For me, yesterday was the despised latter. But, I put on my chagrined face (sorry, couldn’t crack that optimistic smile), bit the bullet, and went to the most dreaded shopping place ever: The mile-long Super Walmart where customer service is terrible and half of what one is looking for is out of stock. But they still have everything(ish) in one spot and they sell the cheapest shelf-staples outside of the throw-away boxes at factories. Considering, unfortunately, I just must go there a few times a year to stock up (you know, just in case of an Ebola outbreak).
For whatever reason, this happened to be one of my better Walmart trips.
Even so, despite my mental preparation, intentional cart-organization, having only two kids with me (who were both in decent moods), and hitting only 1/3 of the store–by the time I had to leave, I was more than ready to leave.
One kind mom helped me push my 200-lb cart with broken wheel around her cart, which was nice. But, by the time I handicap-rolled to the entryway a few tenuous minutes later, I had passed about twenty other people whom I really thought should stop whatever they were doing immediately to offer assistance. (Ironically, I used to not want help, as I tried to do everything by myself.)
Then I hit the unforeseen bump (literally) in the road and lost it. I mean, I probably would have really lost it if it was that time of the month. Instead, this time, it was just an internal losing it.
I had precariously balanced my baby carrier on top of the Mt. Kilimanjaro in the cart, and thankfully, when the cart surged, I caught my little man as his carrier tumbled. Still, other less-fortunate (and less important) items flew off the cart onto the parking lot. Feeling drained, I probably would have been just happy to sit on the cement, hug my knees, and pretend I was in a park reading a book. But, as of course I had to adult-up and get everyone and everything in the car, I found myself taking-out my internal combustion on everyone around me instead of fantasizing curled on the concrete.
With righteous anger, cursing under my breathe at each person who walked right past me–still none offering to assist–I blamed them for my misery (rather than myself for again trying to attempt the impossible Walmart trip): How dare they not respond to my silent cries for help! Those God-forsaken, loveless people! It was THEIR fault I was in this situation!
(Okay, okay, I will work on my scapegoating issues. But, that isn’t the point of this story).
Then a tall, black, curly-cropped-dark-haired angel with a striking red coat appeared from no-where (i.e., accross the parking lot). In addition to a red coat, she had a pin of a red coat on her red coat. Does anyone know what that means? Is she part of a secret society to love moms in parking lots? That must be it.
Like from a glorious novel, she graciously said, “I would love to help you, can I please?”
I responded by groveling and kissing her toes. Well, not exactly. But maybe just a little bit, as I was kinda bent picking up diapers from the street anyway.
She told me to put my kids in my van and bring it ’round. I trusted her–her red coat appeared too nice to mark her as a thief of $350 of groceries, booty-wipes, detergent and canned beans. She waited with my mountainous cart. She helped load junk into my junk-filled van. She made sure my sons were not buried under the canned goods and almond milk. What a sweet angel, she was.
She loved me.
Five minutes of her time was equivalent to a hugely immense blessing to me. She might not remember my face at the end of her day, let alone the end of her year. But I, I will always remember feeling loved and cared for by the red-coat lady, as if she was sent by God Himself.
Do you have a story like this? I hope you do and feel free to share it in the comments below!
Despite our imperfections, we are blessed to have inherent value, even when we are ignored by the Walmart passerby’s. Although I’m holding out hope that there is a fashionable red-coat secret society to help moms out, even if there isn’t, don’t forget that you still have value when no one sees you. Though it might be helpful for you to speak-up, it saddens God’s heart and it is not His desire for you to be ignored.
Then, be an angel to someone else, recognizing their worth as a person by helping them or smiling at them. Don’t just treat others like landscape. You might not have the time to get to know them, but you have the time to treat them with dignity. I, for one, don’t want to be held accountable to all the times I’ve treated people as bushes, trees, and parking meters rather than seeing them as individuals in need of love as I walk by.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 (I don’t think any of get what this verse is literally meaning, but there is some relevancy, don’t you wonder?)