Category Archives: What If
I see her sitting there everyday. Rain, shine, snow, wind, she’s there.
Her skin is dark, weathered, worn. Wisps of black-grey hair peek out from underneath her near thread-bare scarf, her long skirts gathered around her legs as she sits criss cross on the sidewalk under the tree. That big tree that leafs large in the summer, rains gold in the fall and stands tall and threatening in the winter. Some days she has no shoes; today she does.
She sits and rocks gently back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, one hand clutched to her chest. Eyes distant and empty and I wonder if she wishes she was anywhere but here? What is this city to her? Home? Hell?
When someone extends enough mercy to make some semblance of eye-contact with her, she begins her plea…I’ve never been able to discern what language she speaks. Is it German? Gypsy? Romanian? I really can’t tell.
With one leathery hand she reaches out to anyone who will look; with the other she gestures to her mouth. Her eyes telling a story most of us don’t even want to imagine.
Often times I make sure I carry something extra in my purse – an apple, a granola bar, something – so I can hand it to her. I don’t like to give money. You never know what they will do with it.
Day after day I walk past her…multiple times a day I see her face, hear her garbled speech. And sometimes… I just get angry.
I wonder is she homeless? Where does she go at night? She’s never there at night. Is she embroiled in some kind of panhandling scheme? And will her handlers beat her if she doesn’t gather enough today?
Maybe she’s just unable to get a job. Or maybe she’s just too lazy to work, I think to myself on my worst days; and I hate who I am in those moments.
One day I walked past her and smiled gently, but shook my head no. Not today, I try to say with my eyes.
Later I came by again, bringing lunch home for my husband and myself. It’s our little ritual once a week on a day all the kids are in school: we treat ourselves to a tasty lunch.
I heard her mumblings before I saw her, and something stirred in my soul.
But I kept walking.
I didn’t even look at her.
After I got home, I let myself admit what I was trying to ignore down on the street: I should have given her my meal.
Even later, I needed to go to the grocery store and I told myself that if she was still there, I would buy her some food.
She was still there. This time, she didn’t look at me. She was reclining comfortably on one elbow and smoking a cigarette.
A righteous wrath burned within me. Are you kidding me?? I knew it. I knew it was all a scam. I’m sure she has enough food at home and this is just something she does for the money. How dare she!
However, while in the store I couldn’t shake that stirring from before, so I bought a bag of whole-wheat mini-baguettes.
As I neared her place, I found myself wishing I knew what to say to her. But I didn’t. We don’t speak the same language. So I just smiled sheepishly, and handed her the bread. Not knowing if she truly needed it; not knowing if she really was wanting money instead; just not knowing.
She took it and bowed her head. And then she looked at the bread as if it were gold. She looked at it the same way I looked at my first baby the moment she was born. She sighed a sigh of relief and neither one of us needed words.
I struggle sometimes balancing the mantel of being a “responsible Christian” and not perpetuating an already broken system, and having compassion and extending grace I’m sure I would hope someone would extend to me were our places exchanged.
I still have my suspicions about the legitimacy of her plight, but the truth is I have no way of knowing. And so I smile, and any time I can, I give.
And now I know her name and I can’t help but wonder…what if God is using me to call her by name?
I tried to have a conversation with her yesterday, but we speak nothing close to the same language. However, the smile on her face when she sees me coming tells me that Love rarely needs words and Grace is a universal dialect. So I will continue to operate upon the advice given to me by a friend: when in doubt, give grace.
And I will walk even more humbly with my God because what He is showing me about Himself through this woman on the corner.
I stand at the sink, sleeves rolled, heart heavy.
I dunk the plate into the bowl of as-hot-as-I-can-stand-it soapy water because the pipes have been backed up since Wednesday and the plumber doesn’t come until Monday but I need to do something.
The suds swirl and cover the dish and I scrub and I pray.
The liar whispers, “What if He doesn’t?”
“And even if He doesn’t,” I say.
If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:17-18 (emphasis mine)
It has sure felt like a fiery-furnace kind of year. I think back to this same time last year, how we prayed for God to get us back to Ireland.
And everyone asked us, “But what if He doesn’t?”
“And even if he doesn’t, He is worthy,” we replied.
The pot of cool water for “rinsing” feels refreshing as it soothes the scalding heat of the cleansing water. Like the balm of the reassurance that His ways are not mine; His ways are oh so much higher.
Dunk. Sud. Scrub. Pray.
I think of my friends with the scary diagnosis. We pray, we believe, we expect miraculous tests.
In the quiet places the accuser whispers, “He won’t.”
And we all ask, “What if He doesn’t?”
And she whispers, with trembling voice, “Even if He doesn’t, I am His.”
Dunk. Sud. Scrub. Pray.
I think of my family. The ones I love. I pray for healing. Please, God.
My own heart whispers, “But what if He doesn’t?”
Yes, even if He doesn’t, He is good. He is holy. He is kind. He is Love.
The suds are fading and the water grows cool. The dishwasher serves as a drying rack and I wipe my hands. They are rough and chapped from the heat. Like my heart.
So I pray.
And I remind myself with Truth and I thank God for His goodness…
Even if He doesn’t.
Have you ever really felt like you needed to invite a friend or acquaintance over to your house for tea or coffee, but didn’t because the house wasn’t “right?”
Yeah, me too.
You see, I’m not what you would normally consider a “homemaker.” However, I’m redefining my definition of that word. You see, I’m learning there’s a lot more to cultivating a warm, loving home than just sparkling floors and crumb-free counter tops!
Join me over at Intentional by Grace as I talk about leaving the pretense behind and getting on with loving folks! Come share about the times you’ve thrown caution – and dust rags – to the wind and allowed someone in to see the “real” you.
If you’re popping over from Intentional by Grace, I want to say thank you for stopping by! I hope you’ll make yourself at home and stay awhile. Let me know you were here so I can say hello!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but raising kids is hard. Whether you have family around or not; a huge church or just a couple of like-minded folks; whether you have one kiddo or ten. It’s heart wrenching, twenty-four-seven, soul-aching-full-of-love hard work.
And like most things that are hard, the rewards are almost incalculable.
When that hard work includes shepherding young hearts to follow hard after Christ, and trying to set an example of how to do that when you yourself are a flawed human being, sometimes we get…tired. We need help.
Join me today at The Better Mom as I share one of my most favorite images found in Scripture, and where I extend a request to you for help – and an invitation as well. I can’t wait to see you over there and hear your story!
If you’re joining us today from The Better Mom, I just want to extend a warm welcome to you. I’m so delighted you popped over today. I hope you’ll join our little community here as we share this journey of life together. Let me know you came by so I can give you a virtual hug, a cuppa tea and get to know you a wee bit better.
Curled in a ball under the duvet.
Eyes clenched tight. So tight the tears pooling inside can’t escape.
I rock and clench and hum and pretend.
Pretend that the whole world is here inside this coccoon of warmth I’ve made for myself here is my bed. In the dark.
Muted sounds muffle their way through the layers of protection. This armor of fluff and fuzz.
I do my best to pretend they aren’t there. Or they are the waves of some far off shore upon which I wish to be. Alone. Secluded. In my fluffy cocoon.
Open your eyes, He whispers.
Hmm-mm. My head shaking violently side to side. Nope.
Look. He urges again.
No. The word so faint only He and I can hear it.
Why, sweet girl? He strokes my head.
Because if I look I’ll see.
And if I see I’ll feel.
And if I feel I’ll care.
And if I care I must act.
And? He encourages…
And…it’s too much. To much hurt. Too much despair Too much of everything. How will I know where to begin? What to say? Who to help?
Do you see here, where I am? He asks, tenderly.
Start there. Right where You see Me waiting.
Every Friday I join up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday, where we write for 5 minutes, unedited. This week’s prompt is LOOK.