That must be just how her mom does it, I mused, watching the cute little blonde girl in the aisle of the grocery store. She had a sweet sternness to her tiny frame, as she directed her curly haired, brown skinned brother. “I see that you know those people, but you must stay here by the cart,” she said, pointing emphatically to the cart, and showing she meant business.
I glanced over at the cart, which was absolutely loaded up with darling brown skinned children. There were five kids all together, and just one tiny blonde haired mama, frantically skimming her grocery list.
When she glanced up, I recognized her! We’ve met several times and since we share a name, I had no trouble remembering hers. “Hi Shannon!” I said, pushing my cart over to greet her. “How are you doing?”
She smiled, but her eyes betrayed her. “Honestly,” she said, “I just want to get out of here!” The kids kept hopping on and off the cart, and the baby girl was screeching. Her tiny pink sandals were grasped in each of her hands and tears were dribbling down her cheeks.
Trying to be kind, I left Shannon to finish her shopping. But as I pushed my cart away, I wondered if I truly had been kind. She looks so overwhelmed. Should I offer to help? Remembering the frantic look in her eyes, and recalling such moments when my own children were little, I turned my cart back toward her spot between the baby food row and the cases of cereal stacked high in the middle aisle. “Shannon, can I help you?” I asked.
She looked up, searched my eyes, and said, “Yes!”
It only took ten moments out of my event-less morning to push Shannon’s kids over to see the fish–with which they were delighted. As they pointed to various funny shaped fish or glowing rocks, Shannon’s darling little curly haired baby kept squawking, “Mom!” and pulling my face toward whichever fish she wanted me to notice. I loved every second of it.
As I drove out of the parking lot, there were tears on my cheeks. My heart was absolutely filled up with gratitude for women like Shannon, who have opened their homes and lives and grocery carts to little children who didn’t begin life in their bellies. I only got to help for ten minutes, but I drove away thinking those were definitely going to be the best ten minutes of my day.
There are people all around me today, who are graciously and generously pouring out the last drop from their energy reservoir. What keeps me from turning my cart or my car or my cash in their direction? I think sometimes I’m worried that I won’t have enough left for myself or my responsibilities. But I experienced just the opposite in the grocery store. Giving a little bit of time to relieve a stressful moment for a sweet mom didn’t make me feel depleted–it made me feel full! It made me want to help again, and help more, not less!
Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said,