She came in and hardly spoke. Her face was hard, furled brow, cold eyes, hair pulled back straight and she was silent. She wore a white t-shirt, though it was cold outside, and jeans. Her little boy was with her and he carried a bottle of milk though he was too old for a bottle. Her friend brought her to see if we could offer some help.
We greeted her. “Is today your first day with us?” we asked.
She shook her head, yes.
My friend helped her register and explained the procedures, but she never spoke. Her boy put his bottle on a little table and started to walk around. She ignored it. She just completed the paper work and started to look for items for their family.
After shopping and finding items she puts them on the counter for me to count.
“Did you find some things?” I asked.
She shook her head.
As I stood there counting her things the Lord whispered. “She’s hurting and afraid.”
I tried again, “I am so glad you found some good stuff!”
She smiled a small smile, but her eyes… so much pain.
Her little boy walked up and hit her on the stomach!! She looked down at him, but never said a word. He did it again. She pointed for him to go sit in a chair, and again… she never said a word.
“God, he’s so young! Why would he think he can hit her? Where has he seen this? Oh, Lord! She’s tired and can’t take much more…”
As I finished folding and counting her things I asked, “Do you need a Bible? Would you like one?”
Finally, she looked at me. “No. I don’t need that.”
My heart sank. “God, PLEASE let me say something that will help.”
He whispered, “This is enough. Give her the clothes and invite her to church, but don’t push it. Love her with this.”
I packed it all into a bag and gave her information about our church. As I spoke I could see tears welling up, but she would NOT let them fall. A tough exterior was hiding her pain and it was starting to crack and so she took her bag, said thank you, got her son’s hand and walked out.
Another woman. She came in behind several other shoppers, but her face was familiar and there was a similar look. Eyes hard, eye brows furled, jaw set… She’d been there before, but I’d not seen this in her in previous visits.
“Hey! I know you!” I say.
“Yeah, I’m back.” She doesn’t look at me.
She reminds me of her name and I pull her form. She has 5 kids.
I can’t help it. I have to ask. “What’s wrong, honey?”
She’s curt. “Nothing.”
“Well,” I say, “I am not sure I believe you! You ok?”
“You know anybody that will help with utilities? My lights are going to be cut off. Again. I got help last month, but I don’t know where to go now. My husband WON’T work! I have 5 kids and not all are in school yet. I CAN’T work and send all of my money to childcare.”
I ask, “Why won’t your husband work?”
“He has a felony. It happened a long time ago, but he uses it as an excuse to not try. I know there are people out there that would give him a try, but he won’t. All he wants to do is fish. He’s fine as long as he’s ok, but look at all of those names on my form. What am I going to do?”
I just look at her. She is so distraught and I don’t have any idea how to to help her.
“You know we love you here. You know I will help you all I can.”
She answers after a pause, “Yes. That’s why I came.”
She begins to shop and finds some things for her kids. It’s a little help to know that what ever money she does get does not have to go to clothe her children, but can go for bills that need to be paid.
We get really busy and my friend sees her waiting with arms full of clothes. My friend helps her take them off of hangers, folds them and puts them into a bag. We look through a resource book that has agencies that offer help and we try to refer to anyone that might offer hope. Before she leaves I see my friend, holding her hands and praying. Tears are streaming, but she’s able to muster a smile.
“Thank you so much,” she says.
The hardness that we see in people? I believe it’s pain. I believe that out of hurt comes defenses and walls that only God can truly tear down. The older they get the more people realize that their circumstances, many times, are brought on my the poor choices that they’ve made. They don’t know how to escape the mess that they’ve made and they wear it. Their faces show it.
Without Christ there is NO hope. We will turn on each other and eat each other alive out of desperation to live. Christ offers life. When our hearts and minds are set on Him we are at peace and when our choices are rooted in His direction and His Word we LIVE instead of scrape by. Every Christ follower is not rich nor do they escape problems of this life. It’s just that our confidence is in Christ and not OUR abilities to provide.
“Is not your fear of God your confidence and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4: 6