Today was just like any other day. I woke up ridiculously early, tossed and turned in bed while praying for people as they came to mind (since there’s nothing else to do at 4:30 AM!), and then eventually got myself and the girls up to start our day. We rushed out the door to get one to the train, the other to her school and by 8 o’clock I was solo and heading to Walmart. The car needed an oil change so I took my chances it wouldn’t be busy on a Friday morning–jackpot! Only two cars ahead of me! I give them my info, handed over the keys and walked inside.
I hadn’t eaten yet, so I decided a Starbucks grande almond milk Chai tea latte was in order before I started the grocery shopping. I was in no rush…my car wouldn’t be ready for an hour, at least. Armed with my drink in hand and my list of meals I wanted to prepare this weekend, I headed in to start my shopping.
I finished pretty quickly (having a list keeps me focused and on task apparently–haha) so I decided to start roaming around the store looking at all the–ummm, yea–CHRISTMAS stuff already out. I didn’t get very far before I ran into an acquaintance–a single dad with a teenage daughter who is friends with one of my daughter’s.
We began talking and soon, in the middle of Walmart, he ventures to ask my input on something he was wrestling with and since I have THREE teenage daughters, he wondered if I might have a word or two to share on the topic. My car still wasn’t ready, and I didn’t have any frozen items to put back so I obliged. Forty-five minutes later and several more topics that kept coming, one after the other, about parenting teenage daughters and we finally said our good-byes.
But something he said caught me by surprise. He grabbed my hand and shook it and looked me straight in the eye. With all sincerity he simply said, “Thank you for taking the time to talk to me in the middle of Walmart! You have helped in more ways than you know!” I simply nodded, assured him it was my pleasure and we parted ways.
I wish I could say this is a regular occurrence. I would like to believe that even if I had access to my car, I still would have taken the time to speak with him. But it got me thinking…how many times have I been so focused on MY to do lists, MY schedule, MY time, MY phone…that I miss the opportunity for God to use me to be a blessing to someone else.
Nothing I shared today was earth shattering or monumental. I was simply sharing from the things we’ve learned along the way in raising our girls in the hopes it might be of some use. Even if it was just to let him know there is another parent out there who “gets it”. Raising teens is not for the faint of heart and us parents need to stick together!
But God wasn’t done yet…
I continued on with my morning and headed to the next store to pick up a couple of things that Walmart didn’t carry, paid for them, and started heading to an already full car of groceries. As I was walking, I heard someone behind me saying, “Excuse me, Miss! Excuse me!” At first, I didn’t realize she was talking to me. She said it one more time and I stopped to turn around just before reaching my car.
An older woman, probably mid 50’s, approached me. She explained that her car ran out of gas as she pulled into the parking lot, she just drove in from AZ for a doctor’s appt and was using a rental car. She asked if I would mind taking her across the street to the Walmart shopping center so she could buy a gas can and some gas.
I stood there just looking at her with a million thoughts running through my mind–But I have groceries in the car that need to get in the refrigerator. I don’t know you, how do I know you’re safe to have in my car? Are you really out of gas or are you trying to scam me? Lord, what do I do?
I sent up a quick prayer for protection and decided to do what she asked. Turns out, she was one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. She was so appreciative and was quick to share about her three grown sons, her new grandson, and what it was like living in AZ because she had lived in CA up until two years ago. She was delightful!
And I felt guilty for ever doubting helping her.
Thirty minutes later, two stores and one gas station, we head back to her car. Another nice gentleman helped her get the gas in her car and she was able to start it! She turned and looked at me and simply said, “Thank you for being an angel from the Lord and taking time out of your day to help me, a total stranger! Have a blessed day, Carissa!” I smiled big, assured her it was an absolute pleasure, and walked back to my car…bewildered, in awe, and curiously–filled.
And, again, I wondered–How many times do I miss being a blessing to someone else because I’m too busy to notice the needs around me? How often do I miss the opportunity–to talk, to encourage, to embrace, to listen, to pray for or over the person directly in front of me. When did I become more concerned with the lives of others on a screen instead of the living, breathing, hurting, longing for connection people right in front of me?
It didn’t cost me anything but time today. Something most people these days keep saying they need more of…but we’re all given the same amount, every day–86,400 seconds to use however we choose. No more, no less and it all comes down to priorities.
We will make time for the things we decide are most important.
Today, God blessed me with these two interactions and it pushed me to reevaluate how I am currently using MY time every single day.
How about you? Is there an area or two in your life where you can either re-evaluate what is currently on your list of priorities or where you can choose to set aside something in order to make room in your day for opportunities where God may want to use you? I’m guessing, like me, the answer is probably yes…so, for now…
“Thanks for Taking the Time” to make reading this a priority…may your day be blessed!