Seen and Known
I was in a hurry.
If anyone knows stress like having your husband and baby wait in the car for you while you run into the store, it was that kind of rush. It was the holiday season. Walmart was swamped. I had to dodge about 20 people with all sorts of goodies flowing out of their carts just to get to the front door. That’s when I noticed a woman standing there in the cold. She was dressed for the weather, she was alone, and she looked confused and scared. She was maybe in her 90’s.
I noticed her, took a second glance, and rushed right through the automatic doors. As soon as I got my hands on the cart, from somewhere way deep down, somewhere that isn’t talked about much when it comes to matters of heart or soul, my spirit, said “No!”
I went from high speed cart pushing to a dead stop.
I tried to ignore this instruction and started to walk again.
“No! Go back.”
Unggggh…. I was getting frustrated. Starting. Stopping. Starting. Stopping. I imagine I looked a little manic! But the further I got, the more the band around me, drawing me to her, tightened until I couldn’t ignore it. I angrily pushed my cart away from me and hustled back to where she was, actually saying the word “fine!” under my breath. I was in a hurry and the situation was just making me angry.
Fortunately by the time I got to her, which was only about a dozen yards, all of those feelings had completely melted into genuine concern. Ah, there it was—my heart. I didn’t have trouble at that moment connecting with all the love inside myself which had been perfectly designed to be given away.
I put my hand on her shoulder. My voice was tender so she would know I didn’t want anything from her.
“Ma’am, are you okay?”
“Um yes, I’m waiting for my son, he’s supposed to pick me up right here.”
She was still scanning the parking lot looking very concerned.
“Well, do you need anything? I just wanted to ask if you needed help”.
Her hands had a shake in them. She was clasping a track. Praying hands. Someone must have given it to her while she was standing there. Or maybe she was handing them out. I don’t know.
“My son said he would pick me up right here.” Still looking very confused, scared, and scanning the parking lot.
“Well I just wanted to make sure you are okay.”
My own tenderness overwhelmed me. It was like I was meeting a part of me I haven’t known for a while. I loved her. It was the Father.
She thanked me, she was fine.
I said happy holidays and I left.
In a flash I was back to my mad dash shopping trip, and I needed hair mousse! I had entered the grocery side so I took off to the other side of the store, knowing that my Father had spoken to me but having no idea why it was so important.
She was well dressed. She was fine.
But somehow that connection with her, to my Father, was important. I didn’t pretend to understand, I just felt happy I had responded and was free to move on. I wasn’t mad anymore, I just needed to get stuff done, ’cause now I was even further behind.
I was wearing my agenda.
I stood in one of the hair product aisles looking left and right for what I needed, trying to move quick. I still remember what I was wearing that day, and I remember what he was wearing too when he approached me.
“Excuse me miss”.
I turned, kind of startled.
He had on dress slacks and a button up shirt, tucked in. He looked professional or like he had money. If I would have seen the way he looked and carried himself apart from the situation I would have guessed him a doctor.
“Are you the young woman who asked that lady outside if she was okay?”
I didn’t know what to say. Was this her son? Was he angry I spoke with her? Did he think I asked her for money? Oh great, awesome. Super. A million things ran through my mind in that moment.
“Yes…” I said it like a question and then waited.
“That was a very kind thing you did and I wanted you to know that I hope one day, I could be like you.”
I wish you could have heard him say it. His words were slow. Intentional. As if each one were deliberately meant to be truly heard, driven in.
I was stunned. From his loafers to the top of his head, he was sincere, kind, wanting nothing but to honor me. He went out of his way to honor me—the one who didn’t even want to turn back.
I didn’t know how to respond in the moment. I felt the weight of his words like a sack of bricks.
They brought joy and conviction. All mixed together.
In natural response, I put my hand on my heart. All of my inner turmoil quieted. Stilled. My whole self actually brought into another state.
I didn’t know what else to say, although I’m sure there were more words. I fumbled, but it was honest.
He smiled kindly, but was also somber—serious. I could see pain behind his eyes. We were alone in the aisle. A moment of depth and honesty shared between two strangers. The exchange didn’t feel real, and yet was one of the most true I have ever experienced.
“Thank you for saying that” I said again.
He gave a nod of his head and turned and walked away.
I stood in the aisle, still facing the direction he was standing. I couldn’t possibly go back to shopping. I just stood for a moment. Alone. As if the only one in the store. My Father’s presence all around.
I felt transported. Not to another place, but into another heart. His longing for this world made known to me. Unable to move, I stood. Alone. No sounds, in this place for a while. Long enough that I would never need to stand there again. Feeling corrected. Feeling loved. Feeling seen and also known.
That moment I adopted a new pace for living. It didn’t matter what I had to do. None of that mattered. His heart was what I wanted to be connected to.
I’m not perfect at this and I don’t experience feelings of ease and overwhelming “yes’s” every time I hear His voice.
I’m writing this because it’s the holidays. People are not having an easy time. Many days this month I have not had an easy time. But His voice, His presence is always here and we can know it.
Sometimes He speaks when it’s quiet, and sometimes when its loud. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. Right in the middle of Walmart close to Christmas. Listen. Listen. Don’t miss the chance to connect with His heart. He invites us in. He invites us to not just know Him, but to have an experience of love as we follow through.
Reach out. If there is someone who has come to your mind two, even three times, call them. Check in. Express love somehow. Not all experiences are like this one. Maybe you give someone a call and you get off the phone without any clue as to why or the grand purpose behind it. Do it anyway. You never know the weight your actions have in a life or even the world. And in giving, you will receive. You will know His love. So trust Him and listen.
It’s a wonderful life. If we spend all our time trying to meet all of the demands we feel our lives “should” be, we may miss out on all it could be. Words for you and for me.
Hope Wiles is an open-hearted listener, leaning into the love and goodness of God. She is an avid gatherer of spiritual truths and pursues untapped Kingdom revelation for life and family. She resides in Smithfield, VA with her husband Nate and their three children, Ethan, Ellianna, and Erin.
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Thank you. Your reminder of the simplicity and power of bringing Father’s love and attention to another is so timely and profound in this season of rushing to get stuff done. I will chose to slow down enough to listen and see what He is doing and try to do that.
Thank you. I am praying we can all find a new rythm for living and “seeing” the way He sees. Glad i am not alone in the slowing of a busy life to try to catch as many glimpses as I can. Straining to see and to hear but it is always worth it! A blessed new year
Your tender, honest reminder that Father is waiting for the opportunity to reach in love to others through us – being available and sensitive to His voice. May I be so sensitive and obedient the next time He interrupts my plans.
Slow me down Lord,
Ease the pounding of my heart…
that I may hear and respond.
Bless you and Merry Christmas!
I love your heart and response to the Father. I think the struggle is age old. Even when society was not all hustle and bustle at Christmas time, He intended us to look intentionally. To stop. Even wait. To peel back a curtain and see we were not meant to live separated from all His beautiful intentionality. He speaks and I thank Him. If I feel I need His words so badly, I can not dare imagine the souls who dont even know what they are searching for. May we all pause often to feel His heart beat and dance to the same rhythm. Thank you for your kind words. A very blessed new year!