a chain reaction

No sooner had the words come rushing out of my mouth that I saw a single, fat tear roll down her cheek.  My heart pounded as she looked at me with skeptical eyes.

A few months ago, I had been in this same shoe store and noticed that the young woman working seemed very upset.  She appeared exhausted, with dark circles falling heavy under her eyes.  When I went to the counter to pay, she was abrupt and unfriendly and didn’t look at me once while ringing up my purchase.

I left there that day and walked to a sandwich shop nearby for lunch.  At the register I noticed gift cards for sale and just felt led to buy her one. After, I went right back over, rehearsing in my mind what I was going to say when I handed her the card, but she was nowhere to be found.  I waited several minutes thinking she was in a back room or the bathroom, but as I continued waiting I got cold feet and left.

Here I was again in the shoe store looking for boots.  Right when I walked in and saw the familiar young woman, I remembered the gift card that was still in my wallet.  When it was time to pay, I noticed that her demeanor was pretty much exactly as it was last time.

I started with, “you’re going to think I’m crazy, but …”

“I was in here a few months ago and noticed that you were having a bad day.  I went to get lunch afterwards and decided to buy you a gift card, but when I came back over to give it to you, I couldn’t find you.”

That’s when the tear dropped.  Her expression was quizzical and bewildered, but her face went from pinched and angry to honestly, beautiful and sweet.  She started to talk but couldn’t get the words out.  She walked around the counter with arms open wide and gave me a hug.

She blurted, “thank you … I can’t believe you would do that for me.  You don’t even know me.”  She continued, “I do have really bad days here and it’s been tough lately with my daughter … ”  She didn’t elaborate, but then said, “They don’t give me any extra help and expect me to do everything and work overtime.  I’m just worn out.”  She quickly added, “I really love my customers though.”  We both laughed.

I hugged her again and told her, “well, I just wanted you to know how much God loves you and that he sees all of your hard work.”  We smiled at each other and then I turned around and left with my heart so full.

I’ve been the fortunate receiver of the kindness of strangers more times than I can count, and one thing that makes me feel gratitude and peace like nothing else is to be able to know and experience the blessing of being the giver.

I look for opportunities and follow the prompts for one selfish reason – my own joy.

Luke 6 : 31  “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

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