Sunday, August 4, 2013

Felicia

The plan was to visit the water park--to let the kids run out their energy while giving me a quiet moment on the bench.

She was not the plan.

But there is always a reason you turn a different way, go down a different street at the last second. I made a left turn and glanced toward the sidewalk to my right. And there she was, laboring her way down the busy street with a weighty sack in hand.

Her African dress and matching head piece--black with rich red and orange polka dots--spoke the introduction to her story right away. I had not felt my heart leap with the Spirit's beckoning for quite some time, but I welcomed the still familiar dance.

Turn around. Meet my daughter.

I passed more driveways than I meant to before answering, Yes, I will.

Once turned around, I narrowed my eyes, looking for her as I backtracked. I was hopeful that I had heard the Lord correctly, but I wouldn't know until I asked. A sharp voice in my head began mocking me--How ridiculous I must look. Still I drove closer, until her small black form became larger and more vivid. I pulled into the driveway she was approaching and rolled the window down, unsure of what to say. "Can I give you a ride?" I managed.

Her rich brown, glistening skin stretched with a wide smile and a "God bless you" as she climbed inside to sit beside me. She heaved the plastic sack onto the floor of the car. "A little something to eat," she said. Her broken English matched her headdress, and I loved her immediately. I asked her to repeat herself more than once, but she was so gracious toward my ignorance.

"Roxboro," but it sounded more like "Rocksabury." I found it and we turned. She guided me along while I learned about her soul and she learned a bit of mine. She turned around to Kate and asked her name, her black eyes shimmering with joy.

She was not traditional.

When I thought her smile could not get any bigger, it widened further, as she said, "I love you."

"I love you, too," sang my Kate.

My head spun back to my five year old daughter, aghast at the unrestraint of her heart.
 
"I have lived here since January. My husband passed on." I looked at her with no response, trying to understand her accent and struck by her generous affection.

"My husband. He passed on," she repeated. "I moved here to live with my daughter who already come over." I asked where she came over from. "Nigeria," she answered.

"Nigeria," I repeated. Nigeria. She had come to have a second chance--a chance at all. My heart trembled, knowing this was a moment God had ordained just for me. He has shaken me, rocked me...and this moment was my invitation to come deeper in with Him or to watch from the shore.

So I eased my toes in. Further. Deeper.

She kept saying "I love you" and that she was so glad to see a real Christian--loving, taking time to give.

If only she knew. If only she could see the darkness my heart has held, the times I have not been loving or taken time to give because my grasp on my own time was far too taut.

Her hand loosely caressed a string of beads. Pearl, baby blue beads. "I am Catholic," she said, her eyes finding my gaze toward the rosary. "But I would like to go to church with you, you good Christian."

I shook my head. "Oh, I'm not good. My God is. He's been good to me, and I just want to help."
I had parked the car in front of her apartment building, and now she was opening the door. I told her that she had blessed me as much as I hoped to bless her. She reached for my hand, and I let her.
She closed the door, but immediately opened it again. "You have card to give me?"

Card? I searched my mind for clarity, and then I understood. "I don't, but I can write my name and number down for you." I reached and pulled an envelope from my disheveled purse. I scrawled the number and wrote my first name only in first grade penmanship. Unsure of whether she understood area codes or not, I explained that you dial ALL the numbers. And before my instruction came out, I blushed, embarrassed that I had assumed her so ignorant in that moment. She had seen far more than my eyes had looked upon, far more than they ever would more than likely.

I was the ignorant one. She knew of a world I did not.

She gave me numbers as well in the parking lot and repeated that she would like to come with us to our church. "God bless you and I love you," she smiled as she closed the door one last time. She stepped up onto the sidewalk in front of the apartment building and waved with the full length of her arm, still beaming at my children and me.

And we drove away with full hearts. "That was nice," Keagan finally joined the conversation. He'd been silent the entire drive. We talked about helping others and how when we think we're the ones helping out, sometimes they help us more.

"I love her, Momma. She was beautiful."

"I love her, too, Kate."

I thought of how my heart quickened as my mind struggled between stopping and continuing on my way. I felt silly, I felt crazy to think God would speak to me about picking someone up. I argued for a moment, and then I just found myself turning around.

I'm really glad I did. Because I almost didn't, and I would have missed this, missed her. God has whispered lately to me how He loves the lonely, the broken, the outcast. He sees what we do not, and He sets the lonely in families. And we can respond in one of two ways. We can remain oblivious to other crowns of His creation around us, focusing only on our desires and agendas.

Or we can reach a hand out and say "I love you." "You are wanted." "You matter, and I will show you by giving my time and my attention to you. Not because I am better than you and you need me, but because I, too, have known loneliness. And perhaps I need you as well."

I fear that we as Jesus's followers are overlooking the plain, the unpicked, the unlikely, and the unplanned.  I know I have, and it destroys my heart. What a beautiful risk God took to reach His hand out to us; how can we not respond, palm up?


Peace of Christ to you,

2 comments:

  1. Wow...this is great. And I read this as I JUST finished praying that God would give me a heart like His, that I would truly see and love people as HE does. It is a struggle for me, but something I am praying for help with. Thank you for having His heart!!

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    1. It is a struggle, isn't it? Thank you for sharing that with me. I don't always have His heart, but I sure hope He will continue to mold mine to be more like His! We can pray for each other in that!

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