As I stood at the deli counter with my teenage daughter, I was having some pretty big regrets about bringing her with me to the grocery store. What is it about going into any place that you can make a purchase that suddenly makes your children think you are millionaires? How is it that even as we got sliced deli meat she was trying to convince me that I needed to get more than what I had asked? And who asked you?
So, needless to say, I was a little miffed. I somehow managed to make it out of the house without anyone under six, and here was a teenager pretty much acting like a six-year-old as I denied her the Boar’s Head lemon pepper chicken. How rude of me! She could tell I was not pleased with ALL of her requests, and this realization made her somehow want to hang on me and smother me in love and kisses. Because surely a kiss would make me say yes to ten dollars worth of meat! I tried to stand my ground.
I did, however, take the unsolicited love, because anyone raising teenagers knows that when it’s good….it’s good. But when it’s bad…run! “Why are you crying? I just said good morning, honey!” Beware of the puberty. So I accepted her affection no matter how stinky it was. The softy that I am gave in to her love, began to hug her back, and then there was some tickling which made us both laugh and enjoy each other. For those keeping score, I did NOT buy $10.00 worth of meat; I got a half pound. Don’t judge me. I have no backbone.
At just that moment, a woman who was on one of those scooters passed by us. She’d been eyeing us the entire time, and I kind of thought it was because she was judging me for not indulging my needy child. I almost felt insulted as she stared. Honestly, a little creeped out. As she passed by, she was on her phone with an earbud in her ear, watching something on her screen. She passed by, and then suddenly stopped. Beep, beep, beep: that’s the sound of her reversing. She took the earbud from her ear and began with, “I never do this….”
I was sure this was the moment when some random person was going to tell me how to parent, so I began to compose a witty retort as she addressed my daughter and me.
“I never do this….like ever. But I just want you both to know how delightful it was to see you two together just now. This time goes by so fast, as I’m sure you know.” Our eyes met, and she continued, “But it is just so refreshing to see the love between a mother and her daughter. I myself am going through something with my own daughter and would give anything for her to interact with me the way you two did just now.”
I immediately felt guilty for misjudging her glances. She kept going too. She touched my daughter’s hand (this story is pre-COVID) and told her that a mother loves her children and would do anything she can for them, and asked her to never take advantage of that love. She then asked her what her name was. Normally, I do not condone the giving out of our names to strangers, but I let her oblige. My daughter, Oriana, loves her name and how it came about. She also loves the meaning of her name, which loosely translates to “golden sunrise.” To which this kind stranger replied, “That is a very beautiful name; please don’t ever let anyone steal or dim your sunshine. Always be who you are.”
My mouth was probably just hanging wide open at this point as she very nonchalantly finished up and wished us goodbye. As she left, I stopped her and asked her for a hug, which she rose very quickly from her powered chair to give. As I embraced her very tightly, I whispered to her, “Don’t let anyone dim your light.” We released one another from a great hug, and she went her way and we went ours.
It’s not often that moments like these take place in our lives. Normally, we are too busy to even see what’s going on around us. As the wise Mary Poppins says, “Sometimes the people we love, through no fault of their own, can’t see past the tip of their nose.” I was very ready to be attacked by this person for an image I assumed looked like an irritated mother and her child. Instead, I received a great gift that day. A light in a dark world. A reminder that if you do something for the right reason, you can’t go wrong. Truly a treasured moment that will get me through those times when my teenager is not so sweet.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
Be safe, be great, be you!
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Describe (or imagine) a time when you had an encounter with someone like this. How did it feel?
2. Perhaps we all could be more like that woman in the store. How could you give your light to someone who may need it?
3. Why do we constantly think that the world is judging us? How can we better view ourselves so that we can let others see our good?