Last night I had some time to gallivant around the countryside, but since it was approximately 12904 degrees outside I decided to gallivant around the Gap and its air conditioning instead. Grandma gave me a gift card last month, so I had motive. Anyway, I found an armful of clothes to try on and headed into the fitting room thinking the choice of which stuff to buy would be a hard decision. I don't want to get too over-dramatic here, but disaster ensued. The armholes of the shirts were too low, one dress highlighted my unwavering adoration for fried potatoes and chocolate chip cookies and snacks before bedtime (shout-out to my fave, chocolate milk and dry Cheerios!), the other dress grabbed me in such a way that it looked like one could serve salsa from my cavernous belly button, and the shorts were...well, they were passable, but I wasn't thrilled about them. I like my clothes to thrill me. Summary of paragraph: I exited the Gap feeling a little bit blue.
I had accidentally parked far from the store, so I started my mope back to the car. I passed by the Dairy Queen and noticed an elderly woman sitting alone with her ice cream sundae. I kept walking, and the Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I reminded the Holy Spirit of the current temperature and that it was getting late and that I felt tired. I generally just whined internally. The Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I told the Holy Spirit that I was already five stores away from her and the people behind me would think I'm weird if I did a sudden about face. The Holy Spirit told me to go back and talk to her. I actually rolled my eyes and sighed because sometimes I act like a third grader, and then I finally turned around.
I smiled at the woman as I approached, and I asked her if I could join her on the bench. "Can you get me some napkins first?" she asked, gesturing inside the DQ. I grabbed some for her, then sat and briefly considered if the Lord just sent me there to save her from sticky hands. I mean, sticky hands are the worst. But that probably wasn't it.
"How are you this evening?" I asked, my heart racing. Talking to strangers isn't my forte. Luckily that was all she needed. I learned that my stranger turned 83 last month. She had raised five kids and worked the whole time too. She has nine grandkids, and 14 great-grandkids. She had lived in Anza since the 70s but moved to Lake Elsinore last week because she had a heart attack and almost died three weeks ago. She went to sleep feeling fine one night, then woke up from a phone call from a friend and discovered she was unable to get out of bed. He stayed on the phone with her until the ambulance came. She lives with a granddaughter now who is an RN. She believes in God and goes to a Bible study each week and was amused when I told her why I was sitting there. She has a son in Germany who wasn't able to come to her last birthday party, but she didn't sound bitter about that, it was just a fact. She got a call on her flip phone (flip phone!) while we sat, and she talked briefly with her daughter in Colorado and when they ended the conversation she said "I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, dear. I love you." She just said that like it was something she says every day, which she probably does.
We shook hands before I left, and she told me her name was Donna. I left our conversation feeling cheerful and energized for the walk back to the car. My attitude had completely flipped. Worrying about my belly and clothes and me-me-me suddenly seemed ridiculous. I had gone into that encounter wondering what God wanted me to do for Donna, but it turned out God wanted to bless me instead. BOOM. Awesome.
In conclusion, listen to the Holy Spirit* - every time I do, neat things happen. But maybe try complying without rolling your eyes and sighing first.
*If you don't know who the heck the Holy Spirit is, or if you think this post makes me sound crazy, let me know and we can talk about it or email about it or carrier pigeon about it if you have one that we can both use.