I watched the struggle going on just outside the ceiling-to-floor glass windows, as I stood behind the counter of my job at the fancy fine jewelry store.
The child, a little preschool girl in pigtails and a light pink dress, simply could not wait another moment. I saw her face distort in shame as a puddle formed on the tile floor beneath her. I saw the look of embarrassment on her mom’s face, mixed with the uncertainty of what her next action should be.
She was laden with shopping bags, diaper bags and all manner of other bags a mom with young children always carries. She pushed a giant stroller with another little one inside. She looked weary and like she was about to cry too.
Bless them, they had almost made it. The public restroom was only about 200 feet away.
Maybe it was the hormones coursing through my own first-time pregnant body. I was only a few weeks along. I reached under the counter and found a roll of paper towels and a trash can. I asked a co-worker to call the mall custodial staff, and I stepped just past the entrance to help the poor lady who was trying desperately to calm the now hysterical little girl.
My co-worker was horrified, and normally I would have been too. When working at the mall on a slow day, we would often resort to killing time by people-watching, followed up with harsh judgment calls. This was a time in my life when I didn’t let much Jesus in my heart. I was “saved,” but I was, as the old-time Baptist would say, “backslidden”. Any other day we would have judged this mom for not taking her to the bathroom sooner. I would have joined in laughing and making fun of the whole debacle.
But on this day, my heart ached for both of them.
Looking back, I recognize it as a new sprout of growth God was using to change me, displaying His authentic grace through me. Somehow I saw myself in the future when I saw that woman, and I knew I would be mortified. I also knew I would want someone to treat me kindly. I saw the face of my unborn child crying from embarrassment, and I knew I’d want someone to be kind to them too.
Indeed, a few short years later, it would be my own preschooler getting magnificently sick all over the produce department at the local grocery store. Not one, but about five gracious employees ran to my aid, and went above and beyond what was necessary to help me in that moment.
“… give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
Have you ever been in a situation where you could have easily turned a blind eye? Or worse, you could have responded with judgment?
Serves them right!
I don’t want to get involved.
What were they thinking?
I can’t make a difference.
These are all natural responses. I’m hard-wired to judge. I fight it all the time. Part of growing in authentic grace is learning to hear the prompts. On that day nearly 13 years ago, a Spirit stronger than my own poked through a tough shell that was in no way looking for someone to help out. He prompted me to do something out of my comfort zone.
There was a split second I thought about not doing anything to help that day. As soon as I reached for that roll of paper towels, I knew I was going to catch hell from some of my coworkers. Cleaning up urine is gross. Why on earth would anyone volunteer for that?
I’m not sure why I did, but Lord knows, with three kids, I’ve cleaned up a lot worse since then. All I can tell you is I felt a strong prompt to do so. I didn’t recognize the Holy Spirit for what it was that day, but I know it was Him. I crave that prompting now. More than a decade later, I find myself whispering the prayer, “Less of me and more of You.”
Daily, we are faced with all kinds of situations calling us to compassion and kindness. Often we have to get over ourselves to engage in them. The homeless person begging, the overwhelmed mom, the lonely older couple at church, the child at school struggling to make friends, the person on the other side of the counter having a bad day, the man behind you in the coffee line, huffing because he’s running late.
Those are moments. The ones where we can choose to be sensitive to the needs around us more than our own. Some days it’s easy. Some days we find ourselves chanting that prayer. Maybe you need to whisper it today too. Maybe you even need to sing it out loud.
“Less of me, more of You.”Our knee-jerk response might be to judge someone in the middle of their bad day. But what if we choose grace?Click To Tweet
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