One Small Gesture

After a morning full of screaming and crying and fits (from the children), Andrew and I happily escaped for a day date today. It’s been quite some time since the two of us have gotten away together for any length of time at all. The morning was rough, and tension was very high. On top of that, we were faced with the weighty realization that we needed to purchase a new car, and we were headed out to do that after our lunch. Car buying is stressful. I was not in the best mood, but I was not going to miss this moment to be present with my love and enjoy our time together. So out we went.

We chose Chipotle, and I was quiet on the car ride — unusual for my chatty self. I suppose I was somewhat brooding over our morning, just giving clipped answers here and there as Andrew discussed our car situation. I carried this heavy mindset with me into the restaurant, to the long line of customers waiting for their burritos.

After we’d been in line for a few minutes, I realized that one of the cashiers was trying to get my attention from across the restaurant. When he finally caught my eye, he mouthed “smile!” to me and gestured with his hands. I gave him the desired smile and then commented to Andrew about how it annoys me when strangers instruct me to smile, as if condemning my “normal” face. I guess I’ve got one of those faces that looks maybe mad or unapproachable when my face is just at rest. Don’t judge me. I’m not mad. I’m just me.

We proceeded through the line and approached my smile coach at the cash register. I was ahead of Andrew, so I had a moment with the cashier while Andrew was still ordering the toppings for his burrito. He said, “You just looked so down when you came in. I just knew I had to get a smile out of you.”

I explained, “We just have a lot going on right now. There’s a lot on my mind.” I was intentionally vague, because there was just too much leftover from my tense morning on top of the weight of our finances to fill him in during our brief encounter.

His compassion was evident: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

By this time, Andrew had joined us and was prepared to pay for our order. As he held out his credit card, the cashier looked at me and said, “It’s taken care of. I hope your day gets better.”

My eyes filled with tears as I carried our food to the table and proceeded to the drink machine. A total stranger had just purchased my lunch, that I really couldn’t even afford to buy in the first place, while I’m on my way to buy a car that I can’t afford, fretting over my finances.

This is what I see: God can move anyone, at any time, to do anything, for any of his beloved children.

That small act of kindness today reminded me that God sees me. And it challenged me to consider how infrequently I turn my eyes to meet the pain of others in a tangible way. I’ll offer a kind word, a prayer, but how often to I act? The cashier’s actions gave weight to his words. He was sorry for our difficult day, and his compassion compelled him to act.

I need to go beyond words and into action.

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