It was a Saturday night, and the home improvement store was closing. My wife and I were picking up a few things to finish up a project. Everything was normal as we approached the last register still open. An older woman was sweeping up the area behind it. She put down the broom, and with a noticeable limp, walked around the counter to tally our order.
The physical pain was obvious by her face, but I sensed an inner discomfort. There was a story there, unique to her. I, too, was discomforted, wondering how life had led a lady in her 70’s to this situation.
Compassion can squeeze out conversations and I tried to bring a smile out of her before we left. There are times when I especially hope the right words will come. This was one of them, but my attempt at lighthearted humor failed. A somber, weary stare met my eyes.
We were probably her last customers and perhaps she wished we would just move on. Cautiously, I asked her if she was alright. Looking down at the floor and then raising her head, she began to open up. Venting may be a better choice of words, but venting relieves pressure.
We talked briefly about the eight hours on the concrete floor and how she was looking forward to going home. That simple request for rest stirred my heart. I thought about her being so tired and in pain, putting up with customers all day. I didn’t delve into her personal life.
What I did say was this. “Ma’am, whatever is going on in your life, don’t give up. Each day is a blessing from God, no matter how hard the battle. And He loves you.”
She needed encouragement and hope that tomorrow has the potential to be better. This time, she looked me square in the eyes and smiled, saying, “Thanks, I needed that.”
A smile may seem like a small thing, but when someone is hurting, it can be huge. One never knows who God will place in our paths. Friends, I’m just asking you to pay attention, to be compassionate to others. Life may be beating them down. It costs nothing to be kind.
Jesus once said, “What you do to the least of these, you do to Me.”
That Scripture has been interpreted many ways. It took me becoming so down and out, to the point of giving up, before I understood what it meant. The Lord was there for me at my lowest, my least, and He expects me to be there for others. That makes me want to try.
And yes, at times the proper words won’t come for me, but I can always say that the Lord loves them, and that each day is a gift from Him. Does it always bring a smile? No, but when it does, the smile can lead to prayer and prayer can lead to hope. I only got a smile from the elderly woman, but I thank the Lord for it.
I left the store that night with mixed feelings. Perhaps I could have done more for the lady. Walking across the asphalt to the truck, I thought about things I “should have said.” Then, God whispered to me, “She smiled.” And then, I smiled. Think about it. May the Lord bless and keep you another week beloved. Amen.