Have you ever seen a stranger so down that she looked defeated? Her eyes are lifeless. What if you could change that?
Proverbs 12:25 tells us: “Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.” (MSG)
One December evening my mom and I were doing some Christmas shopping at the mall. I had just picked up my new purple glasses at Lenscrafters, and we were now in a very crowded JCPenney’s store, but it didn’t dampen our mood. Seeing people lovingly pick out gifts always makes my heart smile, but all the walking made make my feet and back hurt. (Three inch heeled boots were a bad choice of footwear that day.) I was finished before my mom, so we decided to split up. We were upstairs, but on the first level, just outside JCPenney’s main entrance were some very comfortable chairs, so we decided to meet up there.
I was standing in a long line waiting to pay for my dad’s Christmas present. Christmas music filled the air, you could see the gigantic wreaths and garland with oversized Christmas ornaments hanging in the mall, and smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee from the gourmet coffee kiosk. It felt like Christmas. Then I noticed her. Standing next to me was a woman in her 60’s. She was wearing a cream-colored sweatshirt with a Christmas tree on it, she had short, white, curly hair, and beautiful red glasses which complimented her perfectly. Her head was down, and she looked defeated. In case you can’t tell, I’m a bit of an extrovert. I’ll talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and this woman needed some holiday cheer. I leaned over, and told her how beautiful her glasses were. She looked up with a puzzled look on her face. So, I said it again, telling her just how beautiful she looked and how perfect the frame was on her face. Her eyes suddenly lit up, and her eyes sparkled more than the gold tinsel decorating the checkout counter. She thanked me, and with a grin on her face she turned and hurriedly got out of line as if she was looking for someone. I didn’t give it a second though as I paid for my dad’s shirts. (He wanted them. This wasn’t a Christmas afterthought.)
I was so relieved to find one of the comfy chairs downstairs was unoccupied. I sat next to a new mom holding her infant daughter, Aisha. She was trying to overloaded, holding a fussy baby, shopping bags, and trying to get a bottle out. I helped her get the bottle, and we chatted while I waited for my mom, both of us enjoying the oh so comfy overstuffed black leather chairs.
My mom found me, and wouldn’t let me peek into her bag. (Clearly this would require a stealth mission on my part later on.) As we headed upstairs to get a slice of pizza, she told me she had to tell me what she just witnessed. She said she saw a woman wearing cream colored sweatshirt with a Christmas tree on it, short white curly hair, and beautiful red glasses come almost running to her daughter. The woman loudly exclaimed. “There ARE nice people in the world!” Her daughter looked puzzled and asked her to explain. Her mom, with sparkling eyes, told her the story of someone complimenting her glasses. As my mom walked by, she told that woman she did indeed have beautiful glasses. This woman was like a kid on Christmas morning!
I started laughing and told my mom what happened. I don’t know what this woman had experienced, but I’m sure glad God let me run into her. This time, it was my turn to have my eyes light up like a Christmas tree when I realized one simple compliment had a profound impact.
Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel sums it up well:
“In every encounter, we either give life or we drain it. There is no neutral exchange.”
I want to be one who gives life. It turns out, it doesn’t take much. What about you? Can you give life to someone today?
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment on the blog and let me know if you’ve ever experienced something like this. Also, feel free to share this if you know someone who might enjoy this.