Paying Attention

Paying Attention

I was waiting in the car for my son to finish up at work when I noticed a woman get out of her car and walk over to a nearby restaurant. She didn’t go in, but waited right outside the door.

I didn’t think anything of it and easily went back to my phone to mindlessly scroll the minutes away.

I sensed God whispering in my ear.

Look again. Pay attention.

When I looked up, I noticed she looked nervous, almost jittery. She still wasn’t going into the restaurant.

You should pray for her. 

So, here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to. I wanted to go back to whatever had changed on Twitter in the last minute. I wanted to disengage my brain and get lost in the perfection that is Instagram. So, basically, I wanted to be selfish.

Ashamed of my reaction, I put my phone down and asked God to help her…to calm her down…to see her through whatever was bothering her.

Just then, a man walked out with an adorable little girl, maybe two years old. The woman and the tiny girl were SO HAPPY to see each other! The girl was quickly scooped up and smothered with kisses. “Aww, sweet,” I thought.

No one moved away from that spot, but stood there talking for a little while. The woman was just beaming! I bet the little girl was her daughter.

Feeling like some sort of stalker watching a private moment, I went back to my phone. A few minutes later, I looked back up just in time to see the woman gave the little girl one more kiss and hand her back to the man. As he took the little girl back into the restaurant, the woman, sobbing, turned away and headed back to her car. The look of pain on her face was absolutely excruciating. It was like watching someone’s heart break right in front of my eyes. Before I could even get my seatbelt off to go talk to her, she was gone.

I can never know their story for sure, but I had most likely just witnessed some form of  supervised visitation. The kind where you get to see your child for a few minutes and not outside the presence of the other parent.

I sat for a while thinking about what I had just seen. I prayed for her again. So much pain, God. So much pain.

I was reminded of two things:

  1. There’s more heartache out there than I can possibly imagine. Private pain and unfathomable loss.
  2. Some of it is happening right in front of me.

I think it “feels” like I’m paying attention when I’m scanning the latest stories and headlines from my 6-inch phone screen. But how often do I actually engage with those stories?

If I were to just look up a little more often, there’s no telling what I would notice. There’s no telling who I could be reaching out to here, in real life and in real time. While it IS important to stay current and aware with issues that are more national or global, what a shame it would be to ignore people who are living out their struggles right in front of me.

God puts people in my path every day who need him. They need the grace and mercy I’ve so undeservedly received.

God, help me to pay attention.

 

 

Jesus at the Red Light

Jesus at the Red Light

I guess you could say that I “had myself a come-apart,” as they say in The South.

I had just dropped my Mom off at her condo after visiting an Assisted-Living facility she was considering moving into. She may need the kind of help they offer sooner or later. We’re trying to check out our options now, before there’s a real crisis.

The facility was lovely and the people there were completely delightful and kind. Mom had done well touring the place and asking questions, even though I knew her memory problems were making it hard for her. Overall, it went WAY better than I had expected.

But once I got into the car to head back home, I could feel the tears welling up. Like a tiny snowball of grief rolling down a hill, I could see it coming, growing larger and larger. By the time I made it to my first red light, it was a full-on grief avalanche. Ugly. Cry.

The tears and the grief weren’t about the facility…truly, it was wonderful. She would receive great care there. No, they were for the fact that Mom even needs to look at a facility like that at all. The grief was (IS, if I’m honest) about the changes I’ve seen and the ones that are likely to come.

I am not a fan of change. I am not what you might call a “good adapter.” I’m more like, “Can’t all of the good things stay just the way I want them forever and ever, thank you very much.”

Changes, especially hard ones, like a kid going off to college or a parent showing subtle signs of dementia, make want to put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la…I can’t hear/see/feel you!”

Meanwhile, back in the car…

Now, I know Ugly Cry and driving do not go together, so I prayed, “God, please help me calm down. I can’t drive home like this.”

And it was as I was wiping the tears from my eyes at the red light that I saw it: Jesus.

In the same way you might see “Wash Me” scrawled in the dirt on a car, someone had written “Jesus” on the white van in front of me. A great big JESUS.

I stared at it for a moment and a calm swept over me as I was reminded of something…Someone…who will never change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus will never change.

He will always be with me, even when hard changes come.

Even when I have ZERO interest in adapting.

Even when I Ugly Cry and wish things were different than they are.

Even then, Jesus stays the same.

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This is my contribution for Five Minute Friday, a weekly linkup of writers who free write for five minutes on an assigned word. Our word for this week: Adapt.   More-FMF-Square-Images-36

Stuck in the Middle?

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This is my contribution for Five Minute Friday, a weekly linkup of writers who free write for five minutes on an assigned word. Our word for this week: Stuck.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Sandwich Generation lately in an effort to better understand my people…my tribe of fellow gooey “sandwich” centers. (I like to think we are comprised of Nutella, because Nutella is amazing.)

The Sandwich Generation that I find myself in is the generation described as those who are in their 40s/50s and are simultaneously supporting their own children while caring for aging parents. We’re stuck in the middle, so to speak.

Being in this generation is like a wild rollercoaster of responsibility. Lots of ups and downs. Kind of bumpy at times. The views are simultaneously terrifying and utterly amazing. There may be nausea.

And while “stuck” is a word that can be used to describe the Sandwich Generation, I don’t really believe I’m stuck at all.

I think “placed” is a much better word.

I’ve been placed here by God. He knew long before I came along that I would be here in this moment with my family. He knew I’d have an amazing husband and that we’d have teenaged sons and aging parents. He knew that there would be challenges with both and that the weight of responsibilities would, at times, feel enormous.

But He also knew how I’d need Him. He also knew how He’d never leave me. He also knew that in these challenging times, I would look to him like never before.

In Ecclesiastes 3, we read that there’s a time…a season…for everything. How good it is to know that no matter what the season…no matter what the generation…He is there.

Even if we ever feel more “stuck” than “placed.”

God is with us.