The traffic gets a little backed up on that particular road most mornings and so stopped there was the usual line of cars. I looked up and saw a woman looking at me. What happened next gripped me. It was so simple and yet, so touching, because it is SO. RARE. She saw me. She smiled a true smile and mouthed the words, "Do you need help?"
There was no hesitation. No pause. No second-guessing. No concern that our skin wasn't the same.
It shook me awake.
Because if it had been me and I had seen what she was seeing, my response would have been very different.
I'll tell you what I would've done.
I probably would've given her a quick glance (scanning her face for distress), offered an unconvincing, fake half smile and driven off to wherever I was going.
Because mentally I would be doing this:
... If she is in distress she probably already called somebody because everybody has a cell phone.
... Help is probably on the way.
... I really need to get my cranky baby out of this car.
... I'm in my pajama's looking ratty, and besides, what can I do anyway? I don't know anything about cars.
... What if she thinks I'm staring at her and being rude?
... What if she doesn't like white people?
... Oh look, the traffic is moving now. Too late.
I feel like I relate to Paul when he calls himself chief of all sinners.
What struck me this morning was not only that someone cared enough to ask me if I needed help, but that she saw me. I think we're mostly invisible to each other. Which is why this has given me such a jolt.
Also, there's the issue of racial difference. I'm ashamed to admit this but I notice it. I see color. It's something I wrestle with within my own heart. It's ugly. Maybe it's a regional thing, but there's so much general antagonism on both sides here. Obviously it's not every person, but it's certainly clear on both sides. And the thing I wrestle with is not about worth or equality or anything like that. Please don't misunderstand me. It's fear of strangers. I am afraid, not ONLY of, but especially of other nationalities. People scare me.
So if I had been on her side of the street this morning, I would've thought, if that girl needs help, she probably doesn't want it from me. And I'd probably be wrong. Everybody wants kindness. Right?
Her tiny act of kindness reached my heart. I felt actual physical warmth in my chest. And I just kept looking back at her.
Mouthing "Thank you".
My own heart convicting me.
Lord, you have given me the mind of Christ. Help me to walk in it.