She shamed me, this woman with the big smile and even bigger umbrella.
It all began in the checkout line at the grocery store. I made small talk with the cashier as she scanned my groceries and handed them off to the clean-cut bagger standing nearby. Thankful I didn’t have to bag them myself, I scanned my card and tucked the receipt into my purse.
Rain had been falling all afternoon, and I was thankful to have my umbrella. As I left the store, I popped the handle and raised it over my head. I briefly considered sharing it with my bag boy, following closely behind me. But I dismissed the idea. Sharing an umbrella, I decided, should be reserved for close friends, spouses, and members of my immediate family. Not strangers. I didn’t feel comfortable inviting this nice young man into my personal space. Nor did I feel comfortable inserting myself into his.
I plowed on ahead into the rain until a cheerful voice stopped me in my tracks.
“Here you go!” she said, the lady with the big smile. I turned to see her holding an even bigger umbrella over my bag boy’s head. His grateful smile spoke volumes.
“I’m so sorry,” I called out, substituting my umbrella canopy for hers when we reached my car. She vanished, leaving me to my embarrassment. The bag boy chattered good-naturedly, oblivious to my chagrin.
I pondered the experience later, still smarting from humiliation and regret. How often, I wondered, do I hesitate to serve someone, hindered by boundaries of my own making? How often do I see a physical, emotional, or spiritual need and fail to step up because it makes me uncomfortable? How many opportunities have I let slip by while I weighed the options of whether or not to obey the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit? Too many, I’m sure.
But I don’t always stay safely in my comfort zone. Three weeks ago, I threw caution to the wind and asked a patient if I could pray for him and his upcoming surgery. Last week, I made a meal for a young woman newly released from the hospital and brought it to her doorstep, uninvited and unannounced. Just yesterday, I shared an example of a poor parenting decision I’d made in the hopes that another mom might learn from my mistake. But today I was selfishly unaware of the needs of those around me.
Tomorrow when I awaken, the slate will be clean, and a new day will stretch before me. Rain or shine, I’ll be ready to minister to someone in Jesus’ name. Just as Jesus “went around doing good” (Acts 10:38), I’ll remember that service to others is the best sacrifice to God I can make.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
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by Lori Hatcher
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Lori is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. She’s the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook (Hungry for God), Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or by email (LoriAHatcher@gmail.com).