She came into the clothes closet wearing sweats and had her hair wrapped with a scarf. It was her first time coming to the clothes closet. She filled out the form and waited for me to tell her about our procedures. I noticed that she had not listed any children so I asked, “Do you have children that we could help?” She quietly said that she did have 4 children, but she wanted to just shop for herself.
I could not tell if it was because she was embarrassed to be there and wanted to leave quickly or if she was only wanting “used” things for herself… She’d find something new for her kids later.
I decided not to push but invited her to begin looking for items for herself. She quickly found a purple and pink woven skirt that was VERY pretty, and it was her size! “Can I have this?” she asked. “Well, of course!” I said. “Do you like it?” She smiled and nodded yes. She continued to look and the thought came to me about this purple shirt that we’d gotten in earlier. I went to get it.
“Hey! I found this top! Isn’t it pretty? And it matches!! I think it would look really nice on you!” I said. Her eyes lit up. “I can have that, too?” I handed it to her and walked away with my heart, and face, smiling from ear to ear!
She continued to shop for a while. She was starting to open up a little and asked a few questions about different things and whether they’d fit or not. I pointed out that we had a dressing room and she was welcome to use it. She gathered a few more things and headed off to try them on with a little more spring in her step.
While she was in the fitting room I remembered (OK, our awesome God reminded me of) a purple necklace that had been donated a while back. We’ve not put a lot of jewelry out because we’ve not had a good spot for it. Somehow I remembered that necklace even though I’d not seen it in quite a while. I went back to find the purple necklace and took it to her. She squealed!
She made her way to the front of the store to have her things bagged. I asked her if she went to church, and she said that they’d visited some churches but she never had much to wear. “I am going to church NOW!!” she said. “This outfit is so pretty and I am going to wear it to church!” I asked about her children again and she said, “Can I look for just a few things for them?” Oh, of course she could!
Sometimes, when people are going through a rough time, they don’t NEED someone to judge them or pressure them into doing what we, as Christians, believe to be right. I wanted to ask all sorts of questions and explain that those 4 kids needed to be in church!!
Our gracious Lord is never pushy. He closed my mouth and led me to the right things that He knew she’d need to feel beautiful. He helped me to not demand that we help her kids, but as she saw that she was loved and that the concern of the ministry was genuine she opened up and gave me the names of all 4 kids so that we could help them the next time she visited.
Sometimes we just have to be willing to be there… with our mouths closed.. and our arms open and willing to serve… and He will do amazing things beyond all that we could ask or imagine.