Give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, the ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see… (Brandon Heath, “Give Me Your Eyes”)
As I cruised down the road toward my daughter’s school, eager to pick her up and head home for a nap, I turned the radio up and sang along with the radio. Windows down, music floating through my car and wind in my hair, it was a carefree moment. Had I not been thinking about the words I was singing, I might have missed the significance of what was about to happen.
I looked to my left and, there on the sidewalk alongside the busy street, was a lady walking. She caught my eye for several reasons. She was not dressed for exercise, but more for a day at the office. She had a purse, not an iPod, and was drinking water as she walked. Her pace indicated that she was walking as a mode of transportation rather than exercise.
It was hot. Her situation didn’t look fun. I was in a hurry to get to the school, though, and there were about fifty cars behind me. Stopping to help her was not a viable option at that moment…but I promised myself that if I saw her again on our way home, I would stop.
I didn’t give my promise another thoughts as I kept singing. I drove on to the school, picked my daughter up, got her started on her snack, and began the drive home. I was no more than a hundred yards out of the school parking lot when I saw her. Further along the road this time, but still walking. I took a deep breath and slowed down.
She looked surprised and, really, maybe a little startled. As I offered the ride and began moving the assorted mommy paraphernalia from my passenger seat, though, she openly accepted. (Note to self: if you’re going to make this a habit, keep your car cleaner. Just saying.)
We made the introductions as she got settled, and as I turned the car around to head back in the right direction, we got to know each other a little. She’d had a job interview. Her husband is in the military. They just moved to the area from Germany. She doesn’t know many people.
I felt for her. I could sense her loneliness. I could really feel that maybe, just maybe, this was more than a ride home for her. Maybe she was just as grateful for someone to talk to as she was for the ride.
I invited her to my church. Directed her to the website for more information. (Note to self again: if you’re going to make this a habit, get some of those nifty invite cards from church.) As we reached her house, I told her goodbye and said I’d pray for the outcome of her job interview – wished her well – and pulled away, explaining some of what had just happened to my perplexed daughter watching from the back seat.
If you know me at all, this was a huge thing for me. Huge. An introvert by nature, it is hard for me to initiate conversation even in the most comfortable of situations. I always feel guilty for not inviting people to the wonderful community I’ve found at my church. I just don’t do those things, and while I’m working to change the way I interact with people, I do own that some of this might just be the way I was made.
On that day, though, something was different. Something changed. I smile at the words written in my prayer journal from earlier that morning: You can have all of me, Lord. Today, tomorrow, next week, always. All of me, all the time, all for you. Use me up.
I include that as a way of saying this: I credit myself with nothing about what happened that day. I don’t think for a moment that I myself did anything extraordinary, other than be open to what God has been trying to do with me lately. He’s been giving me new eyes and a new heart to go with them, and I have done my best to go along with the process. Also, I don’t think for a moment that my actions changed her life completely. It was a very small thing, and I think that perhaps it was meant to get my attention as much as it was to minister to a tired pedestrian. As the seeds of change began to sprout and grow in my heart, a seed of a different kind may have been planted in hers. God can do that. Only God can do that.
I like to think, though, that maybe there was something going on in the heart of the woman on foot, just as something was going on with me while I drove that day. As I always say, this is a journey. Some of us get to drive along the way, and others are walking. We’re all on the road together, though, and what I’m learning is that in God’s hands, our paths can all intertwine into something pretty amazing. God has a lot more in mind for us than we have in mind for ourselves.
Note to those who may be concerned: As I told my husband when I relayed this story to him that night, at no time during any of this did my “warning signals” go off. I’ve taken self defense classes and have read all of the “really for real” emails that go around about situations like this, and I promise I considered the danger. At no time did I feel like this was a dangerous situation, or I promise that I would have proceeded differently, especially given that my child was in the car with me.