One thing I love about growing up in the southeastern part of the USA is that so many people are warm and welcoming. There is something really amazing about southern charm and hospitality. Southern hospitality has the ability to make you feel like you’re friends with the cashier, the cab driver and even the person you politely hold the door open for as they walk into their doctors appointment. In the midst of such hospitality there is also a dark reality that you never know what someone is really going through. Even behind the biggest smiles, the nicest compliments and the warmest welcoming there can be some of the most deep pain.
I’d like to share a story…
This is a story about how true this can be and how I believe God wants us to respond. Today I had to rush to a meeting and I just barely made it on time. When I arrived a woman welcomed me at the receptionist desk and offered to help me by calling the person I was supposed to meet with. She was warm, welcoming and even had the brightest smile. To the surprise of both of us when she called into that persons office we found that the person I was meeting with was not even there at the office. I realized in that moment I should have probably texted that person I was meeting with an hour before just to make sure nothing had come up!
After we realized that it was obvious the meeting I had arrived for was simply not going to happen I felt the Lord urge me to ask to pray. He wanted me to pray for her and to ask her if there was anything I could pray for specifically. It was that simple.
I looked at her and shook her hand and while I had her hand in mine I asked her if I could pray for her before I left. She politely said, “Sure” and then I was able to ask her the simple question about whether there was anything specific. She started to respond and then it was as if something took her breath away. Suddenly her friendly eyes began to fill up with tears. She then said, “I don’t know if I can even say anything.”
She paused for another moment and said, “Two years ago this weekend I lost my husband…”
It was in that instant that I realized I had not come for the meeting I had planned but it was actually so I could just meet this receptionist. Rather than being irritated by the miscommunication and the person not showing up for the meeting I realized that God had an even more exciting meeting planned. God wanted me to come this afternoon, just hours before she was about to go home and spend an entire weekend totally isolated and alone. He wanted me to encourage her and remind her that God didn’t want her to have to deal with this alone. I shared with her that God’s heart is that we would all have people around us to love and care for us.
After praying I got a chance to connect her with another widower who is a woman who also lost her husband a couple of years ago. She shared with me that she didn’t have a church and I was able to encourage her of a great church she could connect with. I was able to encourage her that God wanted to bring people around her that she could relate to and people that could help her walk through the very real pain of losing her husband. It was such a joy to encourage and pray for her!
Back to my original point… You Never Know…
Sometimes the most broken and hurting individuals are the most well kept. The most lonely people on earth can sometimes be the most successful and busy. You never know what someone is dealing with inside.
When you go out each day don’t just look for the homeless person or the drug addict to share the love of Christ with. Start looking for the banker wearing a thousand dollar suit who has a marriage that is crumbling right before his eyes. Start seeing the older woman checking out at the cash register in front of you who feels like no one cares to even take the time to just simply talk to her. Start to notice the guy driving the car that is worth more than your house who is aching inside because no matter how much he buys he still can’t seem to have enough.
You never know what people are actually going through. Take a moment as every time you meet someone new to simply do the following:
- Ask God to show you how He sees that person.
- Ask God to share with you anything you might need to share with that person.
- Ask God how you can best demonstrate His love to them in that moment.
“Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” Eph 5:2