I learned a very important lesson about Grace this week from another woman’s child.
My husband and I try to make time every week or so to run out without the kids and get a quick bite to eat and some alone time. A “date night”, kinda, that included a quick trip to the grocery store usually, and a stop in a restaurant for a quick bite and some conversation. Last week, when we were sharing a pizza, he and I chatted a bit about some of the things happening in our lives when I noticed a young couple come in. A young man and woman, late teens, early twenties at the most, she was wearing a backpack and struggled to get out of it. I saw them speak to the hostess, and they sat on the benches where people waiting to pick up food to go. The boy spoke quietly, urgently, to the girl, who was leaning back with her eyes closed. A waitress came over and handed them both glasses of water with straws. The boy opened on straw, put it in the glass, and handed it to the girl and she put her head down and drank the water.
I watched the boy as he watched the girl. She almost looked like she was going to pass out. He was intent on her, grabbing her hand and wiping her face. I realized she was crying. He said something to her, she smiled slightly and sat back again. He got up and thanked the waitress for the water and returned the glass. The girl slowly finished her water, and got up and returned the glass to the waitress, as well.
The girl stood, grabbed her bag and walked out of the restaurant. Then the boy stood, and put on his backpack. I noticed him walk over and inspect the cake display. I thought, oh, that’s cute, he’s going to get his girl a piece of cake. Then I saw him look around, take a piece of cake out of the case and slide it under his shirt. He smiled at the waitress (who couldn’t see) and walked out.
I knew then, my first intention were right. They were alone. Probably homeless, definitely hungry. I wondered if they part of the group of heroin addicts that have been plaguing my town for a while now. I wanted to go up to them while I was sitting, watching, and ask them if they were ok and maybe order them a pizza because they looked hungry, but I held back. What if they were some of those heroin addict? What kind of people were they, anyway, walking into a restaurant, asking for only water, then swiping a dessert?
They are some other woman’s children. Someone loved them, someone bathed them, fed them, put them to bed. They are no different than my children, really, someone loved them.
We left right after them and I looked for those kids. I wanted to buy them some food and water, We are not wealthy, in fact, we pinch every penny but I certainly can always find enough to feed a hungry kid. Always. I wanted to make sure they were ok. I wanted to know I didn’t waste a chance for Grace, but I did. I missed a chance to help someone who needed it because, truthfully, I was judging if they were really the types of people I needed to help. I gave up a chance to help someone because I let myself be held back by things that simply were not important. What was important, they were hungry, and I could have helped them . I let my hesitations stop me.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, Matthew 25:25
I won’t let it happen again.
Grace happens. Be ready for it.
Update: I never did see those kids again, but I’ve been watching for them. I’ve found other instances of Grace in my life since I was aware of missing it last week. My eyes are opened, but more importantly, my heart is. It’s not the big gestures with lots of attention but the small ones with no one knowing that are feeding my soul.