I was standing in line at the grocery store, looking at the prices of products being scanned by the cashier. As I usually like doing, I noticed who was behind me, an elderly man, and gave him a smile. He took it as an invitation to share something on his mind.
“Did you hear? The coronavirus has been reported in our local hospital,” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I replied. I live in the Bay Area in Northern California, and up until that point, the reported cases of coronavirus were far from where I live. Not anymore.
“Yeah, it’s happening.” His words sounded heavy. I saw an opportunity to tuck a moment of God’s kindness into this man’s pocket. I could help him feel heard and be a listening heart of Jesus to him.
“So, how’re you doing hearing the news?” I asked. My question seemed to surprise him, but in a good way. Before he was just talking; now, he was seen.
He shared. I listened. “Whatever happens, the most important thing is to have people to talk to. Like for me, as a mom, enjoying family meals with my boys together makes all the difference to help them not stress out. How about you? What are your favorite foods?” I wanted to help him think about things that bring him peace and joy.
As my new friend talked about what brings him joy, it brought a smile to his eyes.
It happened again as I was waiting for an hour at Walgreen. I’d just come from the doctor’s and needed a prescription to recover from the flu.
The lines were hardly moving. People were getting frustrated, mumbling under their breaths, just loud enough to say how terrible and ridiculous it was to wait so long. Some were throwing their hands up in the air, and little kids started melting down. People were stressed.
I noticed how the pharmacy staff cashiers were looking haggard and tired, but because they were providing a service, they couldn’t express their stress. They were trying their best to process the orders.
When it was finally my turn at the counter to pay, the person who rang me up turned out to be the pharmacist herself. She looked very worn out. In one hand, she had the phone to her ear on hold with an insurance company for another customer. In the other hand, she was scanning my prescription while telling me about the medication precautions — all while answering questions from staff thrown from every direction.
“I’m so sorry about the wait. We’re really backed up.” She was talking a hundred miles per hour with her shoulders hunched over. I noticed her lips seemed dry and wondered when the last time was that she had a drink of water.
Then I did something I do whenever I see an opportunity to bring someone a moment of God’s peace: I imagined she were my sister or friend.
When we picture someone as a sister, brother, or friend, we can become Christ to them in that moment. Because God’s Holy Spirit is alive in you, when we imagine someone is our friend, we can become inspired to encourage them.
“Thank you so much for your help,” I replied with an empathetic smile. “You have a tough job. You’re doing so great! You should know that!” I spoke my words slowly, with intention.
She seemed lost for words, “I just feel so horrible about the wait.” I saw her reticence as an opportunity to lift her spirits and help her see how God sees her, and I told her how she was a part of my story.
“Well, I’ve been coming to this Walgreen’s since I’ve been a mom for fourteen years. I’ve picked up a lot of prescriptions over the years for my two boys. You’re always so conscientious telling me about the prescriptions, though I’m sure you’ve said the same thing to a gazillion customers. I want you to know I appreciate you. You didn’t know it, but you’re a blessing!”
When I said that, her eyes welled up with emotion, and she said, “Thank you.”
Friends, we have, as children of light, the power to lift a person’s spirit with God’s peace by simply offering a smile, being present, and seeing what the other person might say. We can offer the gift of listening.
You are a woman of promise and purpose: God’s promise is to love and care for you. When others panic, you have the power to bless them at a time when we all need connection most.
Practice soul care. Turn to your loving Savior Jesus standing next to you – whether in line at the store or wherever you are – and hear the Prince of Peace tenderly whisper, I love you. I will help you. I am with you.
Then offer a loving word or smile to others with the blessing of peace. Turn a moment of panic into promise. Shine your light.
How are you doing, friend? What promise in Scripture brings light and peace to your soul? You are so beloved. Let’s all share our certain hope in our Prince of Peace during these uncertain times. Here’s mine – may it encourage you today:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
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When others panic, you have the power to bless them at a time when we all need connection most. #coronavirus #community -@TheBonnieGray: Click To Tweet