After three days of a gnawing pain under my rib cage, I hadn’t eaten and was lightheaded as I drove down the highway. Worried about passing out, I pulled into the parking lot at a Starbucks some miles from home.
I sat there wondering if I could get something down, but the thought was disgusting. After deliberating, I went in and decided to order one of their sandwiches, the ones they heat up in a toaster oven.
A young man, maybe in his late 20’s was at the counter. His first words were, “You look down.”
I looked up at him surprised.
“You’re very perceptive,” I smiled.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, looking at me intently. I was so taken aback at his question I was at a loss for words.
“Just life gets to be a bit much sometimes, too many things…” I said.
He was still looking at me closely. Nobody else was in the store but another barista in the background.
“What kind of things?” He asked.
Now I was really surprised. “Well, too many to get into…But it’s so kind of you to ask,” I said. “I really mean that.”
“Well, you deserve kindness.” He said.
Now, why is it that you can take a thousand cuts from other people and not shed a tear, but when someone shows the least bit of concern, you risk a meltdown.
“Thank you,” I said.
“What is your name?” He asked. And I thought to myself, “Lord, is this an angel in disguise?”
“Well, Ingrid, I hope life looks up for you. I wanted to know your name so next time if you come in, I can remember it and ask how you’re doing.”
I left the store with the sandwich in something of a daze.
Just a few words, probably learned patter from a handbook for baristas at Starbucks. But what a difference those few words made. He seemed oddly sincere.
With the onslaught of the last few weeks, coupled with health issues and managing a toddler, just a few kind words from a clerk reminded me of how helpful we can be to others. And sometimes it’s just a humane touch from somebody.
I realized that the stranger/clerk had shown more kindness than most of the Christian colleagues I have worked with online for years, most of which haven’t even emailed to say, “How are you doing?” in light of the last couple of weeks. I felt safer as a person in the company of a Starbucks clerk than I did with Christian friends busily engaged in the “war for truth.” It’s an inhuman place where those who are not useful to the “cause” are discarded. You no longer have a name or a face or any human value.
We can help others in many different ways, and one of the reasons I am glad to leave the murky underworld of discernment blogging behind is because there is much kindness needed, and God is redirecting me into a new kind of life and focus. Looking at the terrible news stories, it puts everything in perspective. So much help is needed. What can we do to lift somebody’s head today?
Thank you to every one who has sent kind emails in the last few days. Every one of them is appreciated.
Today I wanted to share with you this song that has long been a favorite. This big Welsh singer sings it well. “If I can help somebody as I pass along, than my living will not be in vain…”