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I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences. Gertrude Stein

03 October 2008

She saw me, and then I saw myself.

On my way home from dropping the big kids off at school Friday morning, Puddin' sneezed and made a mess, so I pulled onto the shoulder of the road to wipe his face.

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.

Why?

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.

Nothing.

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.

Smiling.

Marveling.

Mouthing "Thank you".

My own heart convicting me.

Lord, you have given me the mind of Christ. Help me to walk in it.

7 people love me:

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

I love your sincere honesty in the post...it is humbling.

I often function in my everyday life, running errands and stuff, as though people are invisible. Someone at Wal-Mart recognized me the other day, and my first thought was, "wow, she's paying attention" because I was just totally minding my own business, in a bad way.

I wanna be that lady that mouthed that to you.

Thanks Jodie.

Way More Homemade said...

We were on our way home from M-I-L's house a couple of weeks ago and dd got sick to her stomach in the car. Bless her heart, she told us in time for daddy to stop the car and I opened her door before she let loose out the door. But at least 2 people stopped to see if we needed help. It was precious.

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Oh, girl, I love how honest you are. And I think we all struggle with something in our lives where we need the mind of Christ...I know I do.

That sweet lady was a great example of Jesus that day. :)

Amy Comeaux said...

I think God used this lady to open up your eyes and now it will become your responsibility to be more alert. With knowledge comes responisibility! I will pray for the courage and compassion to be that woman you want to be!!

Life In Progress said...

What a great story. Totally reminding me that I really need to work at SEEING people all day long.

Lynette said...

Thanks. This challenges me to notice and acknowledge the world around me....it places a mirror infront of me to see just how selfish and self-absorbed i tend to be...i think this will be my goal for the week (and hopefully for life)...thanks again.

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Good GRIEF, woman. Do you know the emotion you evoked in me with this post? I didn't think it could be possible, but I love you EVEN more now.

"I think we're mostly invisible to each other." Amen. I have felt that too. It really shouldn't be.

I think that's one reason that I love blogging so much. It literally removes that element of fear that can be paralyzing face to face.

Lord, help us to walk in the Mind of Christ...Amen!