I dropped off my kids to camp thinking I would have three full hours to myself to get work done. I was eagerly anticipating one of those comfy couches in the corner of the coffee shop when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her. She was sitting all by herself. And she was crying.
As I studied her saddened body language, I knew the thumping in my heart was God’s gentle way of asking me to do something for her or say something to her. But there was no clarity as to the specifics.
As I stood in line waiting to order, I couldn’t help but keep glancing back at her. Every time I looked over my shoulder I would catch her wiping her eyes and the thumping in my heart grew a little bit louder.
I finally excused from the line and cautiously approached her. Embarrassed, she quickly tried to hide her tears as she glanced up.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m sorry to cross into your personal space, but I couldn’t help but notice you were wiping your eyes. The only thing I can assume is that you are having a rough day and I was wondering if I could buy you a coffee.”
She was gracious (which made me feel less stalker-ish) and replied to me with, “I’m having the worst day of my life, but I’ll be okay. I always end up okay. Thanks for the coffee offer but I already have one.”
Before I even had time to think, words came flying out of my mouth faster than I could process:
“Well I’m sitting right over there in the corner. I have three hours before I have to pick up my kids, and if you’d like a second cup of coffee, please don’t hesitate to come hang out with me. And if not, I completely understand, but know that someone cares.”
She stood up. We hugged. I walked away. Five minutes later she came over and sat down. “Can I hang out with you?”
For three hours I sat with a 19-year-old girl who had just lost her job, who had just been evicted from her apartment, and had no one to turn to in her hopeless moment. I listened to her tell me a life story that would make you shutter. What’s more? She showed me her sketchbook and I watched all her sadness fade away as she talked about cartoon designs and her passion to become a video game designer.
As we laughed and sipped coffee together, she asked me if I believe in God. I said yes. She said, and I quote, “Up until one hour ago I didn’t. But when I thought the words, ‘I have no one to help me and I don’t know what to do’, you came over and now I have to believe there is something or someone out there looking out for me, ya know?”
So what’s the point of this little story?
To say this:
Be open to the unexpected.
Step beyond the line.
Step outside your comfort zone.
And be willing to risk embarrassment.
God wants to use each and every one of us to make the lives of those around us a little bit brighter and a little more hopeful. But it means we need to stop thinking about ourselves long enough to be open and available to thinking about other people and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to where He desires and to people whom He chooses.
You just never know whose life you will impact by your willingness to be open to the unexpected.
”For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” -Acts 13:47