Blessing One Another

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On Saturday, I braved Target to get supplies because the weather report said it might ice or snow.  In north Texas, this usually means we will not see any precipitation at all, but the remote possibility of bad weather sent me and a bunch of other folks to the store.  As I pushed my full cart down an aisle, a woman who worked at Target was collecting items for an online order.  She said, “I like your mask.”  “Thank you,” I said and smiled underneath my mask, printed with the word “Kindness.”  “We really need it right now,” she said.  I agreed wholeheartedly since it was only three days after the domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol.  Then, she reminded me that we still have to keep going forward.  I agreed again.  

This woman was happy.  Effervescent even.  You could tell just by the way she talked.  I’m not sure exactly what I said next, but it must’ve been something about her outlook.  Because then she said when people hear her story, they wonder why she is so positive.  Quickly, she told me she’d suffered abandonment and abuse as a child but that her grandparents had cared for her and raised her to overcome.  I was taken aback.  She got ready to move on with her work.  But before she left, she said we had to be a blessing to each other right now.  I told her she’d definitely been a blessing to me.  

I don’t know her name.  I should’ve asked, but it all happened so fast.  In less than five minutes, she left an indelible impression on me.  For people like me, who tend to feel things deeply and intensely, it’s hard to know what to do, what to say, how to be in the face of recent events.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to feel happy.  But the woman at Target showed me a way to take a small step forward by initiating a conversation rooted in kindness and encouragement.

Many of the books in the New Testament are letters from the apostle Paul or attributed to him by his followers.  Twelve of those letters begin with some variation of the greeting, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:7.  In some of those letters, Paul addressed serious conflicts within the church.  He did not shy away from calling out behavior that he found problematic.  He provided advice on ways to advance the cause of Christ and interact more peacefully with one another.  While Paul’s words were not perfect, he attempted to provide a path for the members of the churches.  But every time, before he got to the heart of his message, he started by wishing them grace and peace from God and Christ.  

We, as a nation, have a lot of issues to address in the coming years.  These problems have been building for a long time and will not be resolved overnight.  And each of us will decide what role we play in the reckoning and recovery.  We cannot shy away from the situation.  We cannot ignore it or give up.  But maybe, we should model Paul.  We should hope that we experience God’s grace and peace while we engage in the tough work ahead.  

The woman at Target had hope, and she was willing to share that with me, a stranger.  She gave me a sense of grace and peace, and I felt that God was present in our interaction.  Let us go into our communities wishing grace and peace upon each person.  Then perhaps, all of us will feel God’s love living inside of us as we work together for a better tomorrow.  

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