Conversations: Officer Michael

September 6, 2010

I curled my legs next to me like a child and rested my chin on my knees.

“Thanks for rescuing me. I’ve never been inside a police car before.”

“Really?”

My bare feet began adjusting to the sharp coolness of the leather seats.
“Yeah. It’s a lot more cluttered than I thought it’d be. And there are less bad guys and guns.”

He laughed. “I’m Michael.”

“Nice to meet you, Officer Michael. I’m Ann. Sorry you had to pick me up off the side of the road. I never realized that a broken down car situation would feel like watching a horror movie in slow motion. Suuuuuper scary.”

He rolled his eyes. “You kept me from doing all the damn paperwork sitting on my desk. Excuse my language, ma’am.”

My turn to laugh. “It’s okay.”

“What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“I’m moving. Well, in a minute. I’m going home to see my parents for a little bit, then I’m moving to Little Rock, Arkansas.”

“Little Rock, Arkansas? He whistled, low. “You must be in love. Who’s the boy?”

I adjusted my ponytail and glared at him sideways. “Boy? Why would it be a boy? It’s a job. Sometimes girls move for jobs.”

His eyebrows lifted. “A job? You’re moving farther away from your family for a JOB? I’ll tell you what my 50 years have taught me: it’s not gonna be worth it.”

I felt something inside me twist. I paused, trying to swallow the doubt and regret that were surfacing, again. “I hope you’re wrong.”

“Me too.”

The blue and red lights screamed noise into our silence.

“What kind of job is it?”

“Ministry. I’m going to be working for a church, loving kids and teaching them about Jesus. And doing arts and crafts, and music.” I hugged my knees. “And… pretty much everything I like to do, really.”

He wrinkled his nose and rubbed his hand over his tightly trimmed buzz cut. “Church? So you go to church a lot, huh?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure they’re going to expect me to be there pretty much every Sunday. And most days during the week.”

He picked up a piece of paper with the words ARREST WARRANT typed in large block letters at the top and swatted me on the head. “Smartass. You remind me of my daughter.”

“She must be awesome.”

His eyes instantly became murky, and he bit his upper lip, buying time. “She’s…” He exhaled slowly, his breath rustling the papers strewn across dashboard. “She’s…” he tried again.

I waited.

“She’s… she’s about your age. But she… she’s… she’s on drugs. It’s bad.”

I waited, watching his eyes. He stared straight ahead.

“She dropped off my grandkids 2 months ago.”

“Dropped off?” I felt my hands clench into fists.

“Dropped off at my house. I hadn’t seen her in 2 years, and she came to my house and told me she couldn’t be a mother. And-“ his voice cracked. He swallowed, hard.

My heart screamed in pain. My hand lifted, on its own accord, and closed over his.

He blinked twice, and set his jaw. “And now I’m raising them. And it’s fine.”

“It doesn’t sound fine. It sounds really hard.”

The lights flashed two, three, four times.

“It is hard.”

“I’m sorry. About your daughter. And about… and that life is hard, sometimes.” I spit the words out, knowing they were the wrong ones.

He snorted. Laughter? Oh… tears.

“It’s odd, that life works this way. That beauty can come out of sh- out of bad situations.”

I smiled at his attempted censorship. “It is odd. The beauty is your grandkids? They’re fun, huh?”

His eyes shone with tears, and joy. “Ahh, they all right, I guess. I forgot the energy it takes to raise kids. They’re exhausting.” The corners of his mouth turned up. “Fun’s the right word, though. They’re pretty damn fun.”

“I bet.”

A car whizzed by, slowing only slightly at the sight of red and blue blinking.

He turned his head to look at me. “Do you pray?”

“What?” I didn’t understand his question for a moment, then I felt my bruised heart beat fast.

“Do you pray? At the church ministry thing you do, do you pray?”

“Yes. And at other times, too.”

His aged fingers tapped the steering wheel nervously. “Like now?” He looked out his window, as though he had posed the question to someone else.

“Like now.”

I curled my fingers around his, and asked My Creator to hear my heart. Hear Officer Michael’s heart. Hear past my limited words and limited sentences and limited language.

… amen.” I looked up at his tightly clenched eyelids. “Would you like to pray?”

Eyes still closed, he pursed his lips while he considered it. “Okay.” He cleared his throat. “God, please help me to do a good job with these kids. Please help them feel like I love them. I mean, I do love them. Sometimes it’s just really hard because I’m so tired. So, God, I want them to feel me love them more, I guess. And also, I want to try and forgive my daughter. And myself. So, that’s about all for right now. Uh, Amen.”

It was the simple and perfect prayer of a child. In a 50-year-old body.

My eyes locked with his as the same tear slid quietly down 2 different cheeks. For one breath, time stood still.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

And then a shadow fell behind us as a tow truck pulled into position. I pushed open the car door, and the heat rushed in with vengeance.

“You ready ma’am?” The gangly 20-year-old called out to me from beside my car.

“Yes!” I shouted back. My barefeet touched the grass. “My shoes!”

Officer Michael lifted them to me.

“Thanks”. I slid them on. “Thanks much. You know, for rescuing me and all that. And for… and for sharing that stuff. Thanks for being a real human.”

His eyes looked somewhere over my shoulder, and then slowly found mine. He lifted his well-worn hand and covered mine, squeezing gently.

“MA’AAAAM? ARE. YOU. READY?”

The lights flashed as Officer Michael pulled away, taking my regret and doubt with them.

My eyes followed his car. “I’m ready” I whispered softly. I lifted my eyes to My Creator, and I realized I was.


“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it” -A.W. Tozer

Advertisements

People: Arthur & Cindy*

May 24, 2010

With a job that takes lots of life energy but doesn’t have the courtesy to give some back, I have become one of those people who is addicted to something.

Luckily for me, my wallet, and the D.A.R.E program that I went through in 5th grade, it’s not drugs. Not the kind you smoke or inject, anyway.

It’s coffee.

As oh-so-many of the Intervention TV show plots begin, I used to drink coffee socially, innocently. But now I find myself craving those little black beans with an intensity I usually reserve for really good music and pink toenails.

Enter Starbucks, stage left.

Although I go to my favorite local coffee shop, Homers, whenever I have an extra 30 minutes in the morning (read: never), I usually find myself 2 or 3 times a week screeching into the last parking spot in front of that odd green logo, dashing in, ordering my plain coffee, dumping cinnamon and soy milk into it, and throwing myself back into my car, all in one rapid motion.

Several weeks ago, peering through blurred, tired eyes as I waited for Whendy to pour my coffee into the paper cup, I noticed an unusual duo sitting at the table in the window. They were sitting quietly, peacefully, pouring over books and papers that were haphazardly spread all over the table. Occasionally, the man would tap one of the papers with his pencil. Whendy saw me watching them.

“Awesome, isn’t it?” she asked me.
I blinked, trying to clear my vision. “What are they doing?”
“That’s Arthur and Cindy. He’s her tutor.” She popped the lid on my cup. “They come here to study every Tuesday morning before school. She actually had a really big test yesterd- HEY! Cindy! How did your test go?”

Cindy grinned, bright white teeth against dark lips, the sunlight glaring off her glasses. “I got an “A”! she said, in a soft high voice.

Arthur lifted his large wrinkled hand and patted Cindy two- no three- times on the head. “She’s smart, this one.” He nodded briskly, as though to punctuate his words, and then turned back to the papers.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made sure Tuesday is a Coffee Day. Sight only, these two have little in common. Arthur is easily 75, and Cindy is 8. Arthur’s skin is pale and stretched with age, Cindy’s is creamy and dark. Arthur is a coffee drinker. Cindy sticks to hot chocolate, extra whipped cream please.

But when they sit down at that table, I see something beautiful. I see a friendship that transcends silly labels. I see in Cindy’s eyes a growing trust, and new-found confidence. A fresh passion for learning.

A Tuesday morning community of sorts has formed. People who were strangers before are now mismatched coffee friends, as we’ve invested in our odd pair. That guy with the funny hat that sits in the armchair is now Steve, the retired Insurance Salesman who reads the paper and then brings a cup of coffee home to his wife. And there’s Laura, the young stay at home Mom who pretends that this is her exercise time, clothes and all, so she can drop her kids off at her Mother-in-law’s twice a week and enjoy her coffee in peace. Arthur introduced us. Cindy brought us into friendship with her stories about school and that mean teacher who gives really really, no guys, REEEEALLY hard tests.

We root for her, cheer for her, love her. Love them.

Two weeks ago, Whendy leaned over to me conspiratorially . “Do you know why he does it?” she asked as I walked back from saying “Hi” to the fearless study team.
“Arthur?” I asked her, as though we would be talking about anyone else.
“Yeah, Arthur. Do you know why he tutors her?”
“Uhh, no” I whispered back, feeling a bit concerned.
“He’s a Christian.” She paused.
“He’s a Christian?” I asked, raising my eyebrows in relief at her answer.
“I KNOW. I was surprised too!” She let her eyes settle on Arthur’s creased face. “I asked him why he would give his time to a foster girl he didn’t even KNOW, and he said that was why. That he thought Jesus or God or something would want him to do stuff that was good. And so he decided to give Cindy some help to get an education.”
I felt tears burning in the back of my throat.
“He said he wanted to give Cindy hope. And he wanted her to feel trust and love from somebody.”
I watched him smile down at Cindy and give her a high five as she beamed, basking in another correct answer.
Whendy slid my change across the counter. “I’ve never known any Christians like him.” She bit her bottom lip. “I mean- I wish I did. I didn’t know Christians could be like that.”
I waited, looking into her eyes.
“I’m not- not religious. Not a Christian. But I like the kind of faith that Arthur has.” She coughed. “If I believed something, I think I’d want it to be that.”
I blinked back tears. “Me, too.”

I waved goodbye to my Coffee Family, and unlocked my car door. For several minutes I gripped the hot black steering wheel, immobilized as I asked my Creator how my faith plays out not in abstracts or through swinging church doors but in real day-life.

The answer? It doesn’t always. Not very well, anyway.

When I really look at how much I’m open, giving of time & talents & pouring back the immensity of blessing that is this life, I’m not doing that well.

Meeting Arthur is shifting that. He lives his faith.

He lives faith.

He lives faith in a coffee shop five minutes off the highway in the middle of Kansas, in a way that makes Laura and Steve and Whendy notice. In a way that makes me notice, too.

Arthur, you inspire me to be a better human. A better Believer. To-

follow Jesus better.

So, thanks. For the reminder that following Jesus is sometimes about sitting with a little girl with braided hair and a math book and loving her.

(Praise).

My goal is God Himself – not joy, nor peace
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.

* Names have been changed since I didn’t ask permission to put this story out into the world. I promise you, their real names are just as precious!

Conversation: Grocery Store

April 7, 2010

Grocery store checkout lane.

Me: “I’m Ann with no ‘e’. I just feel like I should introduce myself to people wearing nametags. It doesn’t seem fair.”
Karl: (clears throat) “Okay.”

(beep. beep. beep.)

Karl: “I’m Karl. With a K.”
Me: “Yeah, I know. I can actually… see your name. On your name tag.”
Karl: “Oh. Right.”

(beep. beep.)

Me: “Can I confess something to you?”
Karl: (clears throat) “I’d really rather you didn’t.”
Me: “Really?”
Karl: (old man laugh) “ ‘Spose it depends what it is. Is it sex?”
Me: “No. No. No. Sorry I said that three times. That was super awkward. But still no.”
Karl: “Is it killing some young person?”
Me: “Nope. Promise”

(beep.)

Karl: “Okay. I’ll confess to you, too.”
Me: “I’m going to put these cookies I just got from your bakery on a plate and pass them off as homemade.”
Karl: “They’re homemade-“
Me: They’re not homemade by me.”

(beep. beep. beep.)

Karl: “Do you feel better?”
Me: “A little.”
Karl: “I haven’t been to confession since 1978. June.”
Me: “Is that your confession?”
Karl: “Yeah. “

(beep. beep.)

Me: “Your confession is that you haven’t been to confession? I’ve never been to confession.”
Karl: “You’re lying about some stupid cookies.”
Me: “Good point.”
Karl: (clears throat) “June 1978.” (clears throat) “My daughter died. That month. My daughter died that month.”
Me: “Karl. I’m so sorry.”
Karl: “She was your age, about. I walked out of confession and never went back.”
Me: “Never went back?”
Karl: “Never went back to confession. Never went back to church. Never went…”
Me: “Never found your faith again?”
Karl: “Found my faith. Like it was missing? Or lost?”

(beep. beep. beep.)

Karl: “Yes. (whispered) Never found my faith.”
Me: “You can find it now. If you want to.” (a plea: Please, Lord.)

(credit card swipe.)

Me: “You can find it now. You can.”
Karl: “You said that already.” (hands me a pen)
Me: “It’s still true.”

(scribbled signature.)

Karl: “Don’t lie about the cookies.”
Me: “Yeah, you’re right.” (Hand back his pen. His fingers close around mine, and stay there.)
Karl: “You might be right, too.”
Me: “Bye Karl-with-a-K.”
Karl: “Bye Ann-with-no-E.”

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing. C.S. Lewis.

An Open Letter: Hair Gal

March 30, 2010

An Open Letter to That Girl Who Cut My Hair Seven Months Ago:

Hello again, my friend. I think you’d be cool with me calling you friend, even though we haven’t spoken (other than e-mail) since that fateful day in Little Rock Rocks, Ark (working title, y’all). We spent four hours together that day thanks to your uncertain I’m-still-learning hands, and while I’m sure that most people will agree that’s just slightly longer than the norm, the extra hour it took to rat my hair to that incredible height? Worth it.

Besides, Hair Gal, four consecutive hours is more than I’ve spent with many of my dearest friends as of late. So in that respect, we’re practically BFF’s.

I’ve thought of you often the past few months. Not in a creepy stalker-esque way, no, more leaning to the older sister end of the spectrum. That’s right, on this spectrum, apparently stalkers are on one side, and big sisters are on the other. Don’t judge me.

Oh, Hair Girl, there’s that word, judge.

(shudder).

There we were, chatting away about all normal topics: boys, family and (ugh, I even hate typing this word) Twilight, when you began to share, slowly at first, a little about your life. About growing up without a father, and just barely a Mom. About the day you found out you were pregnant at 17. About working a second job to put yourself through cosmetology school.
“A second job?”, I asked. “Where?”

Your eyes filled with tears, and you paused…one beat…two beats…three be-

“I…strip. I’m a stripper”, you whispered. “And I hate it.”

Our eyes locked and you turned away, ashamed. I slowly spun myself around in my chair and grabbed your hand fiercely. You grabbed back with both hands-a lifeline-, and began babbling about how it was justfornowuntilyousaveup and I sat, trying to understand why you would need to explain yourself to me. I took a breath to tell you it was okay, and realized it wasn’t okay. Not because it wasn’t okay to me- this had nothing to do with me- because it wasn’t okay to you.

And there we stood, Hair Gal, frozen in a ridiculous picture in the middle of your salon with other nameless unimportant faces gaping at us as we clasped hands. Tears slid down your face. And mine.

Hair Gal, I know some people won’t understand this letter to you. They’ll think “Stripping? So what?”

That wasn’t the point, was it, sweet girl? It wasn’t about a place. For you, the Strip Club might have well have been any number of things/places/horrible men.  It was about feeling trapped. It was about the humiliation of men treating you, of allowing men to treat you, as less than a valuable human. It was about-
emptiness.

Before I left I hugged you, tight, until you laughed and gave me your e-mail, saying it wasn’t the end of our friendship.

Oh, my precious babe. I laughed too, because I knew I wanted that hug to be more than it could be, I wanted it to be enough for you to have a new life. I willed with everything in me that one hug could tell you you are worth so much more, you are worth: a beautiful life.

You are worth the life you were Created to have.

I don’t think that moment changed you.
But Hair Gal, it changed me.

How many times have I judged the girls who work at places where men can objectify them? How many times have I added to their shame by looking into broken spirits with accusatory eyes, adding my voice to the many that tell them they are less? Worth less? Worthless?

Hair Gal, you told me things I already knew, somewhere. That each woman has a story that is not spelled out on tight-fitting t-shirts or stiletto heels.  Real stories that are painful and confusing and entrapping.

I’m sorry that you ever pulled your eyes away from mine. I know shame makes us feel like less. I know, because I’ve been there.

Not exactly where you are (were?) my sweet friend, but I’ve been in places where I felt like less than I was, where I felt unworthy, and these are my words to you:

You are beautiful. You matter.

That day I remembered that my job for this time on earth is to love. Not judge.

And I remembered that my worth does not come from my job, or family, or even who I am, it flows directly from the fingertips of my Creator.

I hope someday you might feel the touch of those life-giving Hands, my friend.

Until we meet again, Hair Gal. Thanks for being real and open with a blonde girl who laughs too loud and cries too easy.

Hugs,

Ann

People: Lewis

March 14, 2010

Confession: I’m an early riser. That’s the nice way for me to say “Why body, WHY must you wake up at 7 am even if bedtime is 6:45 am??? WHHHHYYY?” and the nice way for everybody else to say “Why must you be so (insert expletive here) cheery in the morning? Our friendship is over.”

This summer, when life twisted and turned around and became something new, my morning work arrival time became 10 am. As in roughly a trillion, brazillion hours after I get up. For the first week or so, I would rush through my morning routine (up, walk, shower, dressed, eat, bible, journal, go) and be ready to leave around 8:30, leaving me plenty of time to stand in the middle of the kitchen staring with an intense awkwardness at the clock as it tick tick ticked at a maddeningly slow pace toward 9:45 until I ran out of the door at 8:35, knocking over potted plants and small children, shouting “I’LL JUST GET THERE EARLY.”

Oh, how times have changed.

Over the last few months I’ve come to love the slower, more relaxed feel of a morning that isn’t hurriedly marching towards an 8 AM call time at work. I feel more settled, more ready for the day- more grounded.

Now, I get up around 7, walk, run or bike for a little while (and by “or bike”, I mean I tried that 3 times and almost died. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LANCE ARMSTRONG? Tour de France, Schmour de France. Try the Arkansas mountains. ), and on my more relaxed, longer explorations of our housing complex, I met Lewis.

Lewis is an older man who lives at the very edge of my neighborhood in a towering mansion- just him and his little poofy white dog named Lacey. We passed each other for several mornings just nodding “hi” before little Lacey decided I was less “friendly young jogger” and more “dangerous weapon carrying criminal” and decided chase me down the street while I ran faster than I ever have and shouted over my shoulder in a high-pitched voice “help me! Help me!”

I’m not ashamed. Being chased by a small dog is terrifying, people. TERRIFYING.

Since that day, we’re become an oddly matched pair of acquaintance-friends, exchanging light information about our lives. You know, a little “how’s your morning going” that was followed by a little “how’s your summer going” and eventually turned into a little “how’s your life going”? As our friendship developed, I noticed that every morning after our quick chat, Lewis packed up a huge cooler, struggled to lift it up over his 70-year-old shoulders and into the back of his truck, lifted Lacey into the passenger seat and pulled out in the road, out on the main street, out to his life.

After coming up with various fake backstories for Lewis (my personal favorite was that he was high up in NASA and in the cooler was some sort of top-secret experiment he was working on. Oh, and that Lacey was actually a robot), I finally asked him about the mystery cooler this week while we stopped to have our morning talk. He hesitated, and then in his gruff old man voice said “I visit my wife”.

“Your wife?”

“Yes. *pause* She isn’t… okay. She isn’t well.”

“I’m so sorry, Lewis.” I reached out for his hand.

“Me too.”

And whatever had been holding him in crumbled and the words poured out as I watched tears slide down well-worn paths in his cracked wrinkled (beautiful) skin and he told me the story (his story) of how he packs up his wife’s makeup every day, puts it into a cooler, and drives over to the nursing home where he carefully applies lipstick and eyeliner with a shaking hand and I can imagine that each stroke of blush spells out “I love you” across her face. Then he sits and talks to her, as much as she is able, and reminds of her of years of joys and blessings and life and on good days, he prays with her. And he swiped roughly at his cheeks and I heard the words “scared” and “tired” and “alone” fall from his mouth, intertwined, and I asked him, “could I pray with you?” and saw his head nod, slightly, and just once. And then we bowed, on that sidewalk, and I thought how do you pray for someone who lives out every day the kind of love that is the (smallest, tiniest, but no less real) taste of the way Our Creator loves us?

I’ve thought of him often the past few days, his amazing testament to a life of faith and love and… a life well lived. And friends, in my rushed morning life, I would have missed it.

These humans with their stories? They live everywhere we live. They live in the mansion at the end of the block, but they also live in the grocery store lines and at our workplaces and we have to find them.

Are we the church? Then we have to find them. Because their stories, their lives MATTER.

They matter. To Christ. And they should matter to us.

I want to do better at this. Too many days are too busy of must-get-heres and must-go-theres and I miss the opportunities to stop and take moments to get to know the people God has placed here and now. To let them get to know me.

Lewis, thanks for letting me share your story, friend. Thanks for reminding me that living like Jesus means living intentionally even during a morning walk.

I’m not there. But I’m learning. (praise God). (praise, God).

Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. I John 2:7-8.

An Open Letter: Robber

March 14, 2010

An Open Letter To The Person(s) Who Robbed My Car:

Dear Robber,

Do you mind if I call you “robber”? Or would you prefer “thief” or “burglar” or even “pickpocket”? Okay, I know that last one doesn’t really apply in this case, but pickpocket sounds to me like the most badass of all the thesaurus choices. It’s what I would go with, but hey, I don’t want to step on any toes here.

I’ve thought about you often the last week or so. I don’t imagine we’ll ever get to sit down face to face because, frankly, I don’t know who you are (although the women who answered my 911 call was extremely suspicious that I DID know who smashed my car window, I just wouldn’t tell her). I’ve imagined you as an older homeless man who was so desperate for change, punching through my window for a mere 15 pennies seemed worth it. Or, as a young teenager trying to do Something Awesome (read: Stupid) to impress his ruffian friends. And, for a while Robber, I thought this might just be a hate crime against me, since I was the only car broken into, while other, much nicer cars around me remained untouched.

It’s a shame really, Robber, that we won’t get to sit down face to face, because I have so many questions for you: Why did you just choose my car to break into? Was there something about a 1997 Toyota that screamed out to you “Something Fabulous To Steal Is In This CAAAAR?” Why did you take the change holder? Seriously, 15 pennies? And was it necessary to take everything out of my glove compartment and spread it on the floor? It was a pain to go through that stuff, robber. Plus, there was that added danger factor that all of it was covered in SHARDS OF GLASS.

Also, Robber, how mad were you when you opened the only other thing you stole, the black bag? In your defense, it does slightly resemble a computer case, but come on… the jingle jangle of bells didn’t give it away? I wish I could have seen your face when you opened that case later, only to realize that you had stolen instruments. Yes, kid instruments. YOU STOLE FROM LITTLE KIDS.

And really, you made this already stressful week quite a bit more intense. Instead of moving my first load of stuff on Wednesday, I was on the phone with the police, the insurance company, the glass place, and of course, Mom and Dad. You made me late to my Bible Study. That’s right Robber, I blame you.

And did you see the forecast for Thursday and Friday? Rain, Rain, Rain. Thursday, of course, I had three Story & Music Workshops in the farthest extremes of this town. The last one ran exceptionally late, causing me to miss bingo and almost miss my audition. The thing is, Robber, I’m not that great of a driver to start off with. Adding impaired vision out of one window while driving 90 miles an hour across town in the dark? It doesn’t help. The opposite, in fact.

But, Robber, there were a few good things too. Like the two co-workers who happened to be walking to their cars when I discovered my shattered window, and took my wide- eyed “I’m supposed to call people now, right? Like the police?” question seriously, and stayed there through two lengthy phone conversations just to make sure I was okay.

Oh, and the woman at my insurance company, who asked if I needed anything, and meant it. She even called this weekend just to check in and make sure I was okay.

And the man at Wal-Mart who not only taught me how to tape up my window, but suggested I get the hot pink duct tape. Honestly, Robber, seeing that hot pink flash of color underneath the flapping tinted plastic warmed my heart.

And, of course, the wonderful Yolanda from the glass-fixer place who was so empathetic and gentle and kind. When I pulled up on Friday morning, she was standing in the doorway with a cup of coffee for me, and when I left an hour later, we said goodbye like old friends.

So, the truth is, if we were sitting face to face right now Robber, I think I’d lean across the table and give you a hug. You stressed me out last week, that’s true… but I also remembered that there are people in this world who will be genuinely compassionate. For no gain, no reason, but just because that’s who they are.

Thanks for reminding me of that. And that I want to work harder at being one of those people.

Oh, and next time? Just call me, and I’ll come down and unlock the door. No window destroying required.

Heart,
Ann

Conversation: Walgreens.

March 14, 2010

                                                 

Young guy outside of Walgreens holding cigarettes: I don’t know why I’m holding these right now.
Me: Me either. Cigarettes are gross. And also, kind of bad for you.
Guy: I haven’t smoked in a month. Why did I buy these? WHY AM I HOLDING THESE??
Me: -pause- Actually, I bet you DO know why you’re holding those.
Guy: -pause- -starts weeping-
Me: -awkwardly pat him on the shoulder- I’m sorry….

(let’s play a little game, shall we? Welcome to  The Way It Should Have Ended vrs.  Reality)

The Way It Should Have Ended:
Me: -awkwardly pats him on the shoulder- I’m sorry -sit down on pavement with him- What’s happening in your day?

Reality:
Me: -awkwardly pats him on the shoulder- I’m sorry -spin around, walks into the store-
Me: (in my head) hmm, what kind of peeps do I want? Oh my gosh, if I get enough of these, I could try some of those things they did in kids church! They said the kids shouldn’t try them, but they didn’t say anything about the adult helpers-
Me: (in my head) I can’t BELIEVE there are so many kinds of peeps… how am I supposed to choose… wait, there are PINK PEEPS?
Me: (in my head) what am I doing… What am I doing? WHAT AM I DOING? That was the exact moment I pray for everyday!!! What about buying peeps at an extremely reduced rate is more important than that human?
Me: -flying out of the door- Hey, what- Me: (in my head) he’s…. gone. Me: (in my head) compassion, compassion, compassion.

(this day, His mercies are new).