The nicest older gentleman works at Costco, signing members up for the company Visa. He stands next to his computer kiosk on the way to the salads and rotisserie chickens, and he greets everyone with a smile. I don’t know what his story is. He is long past retirement, hair like snow, and beginning to look a little fragile. He reminds me of my dad. That makes me all mush.
He has talked to me several times…enough that he remembers I already have “the card,” but he still greets me. Lately, I’ve watched other people around his booth. They rush by in hopes that he will miss them, or they say “no thanks” without looking up. Often, their response is curt, and sometimes it is downright rude. Now who talks to their dad or grand dad like that?
Some days it breaks my heart.
This week I pulled my cart up right beside this gentleman and he asked me if he could help me find something.
“No,” I nodded, “I want to tell you something.”
“I have noticed that sometimes people are not very kind to you.”
“Oh, well, that’s okay,” he waved and stepped forward a bit. “I just love them all anyway.”
Who says that? Jesus said it when he was dying on the cross. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Prior to coming into the store I had sat in my car, listening to Charles Stanley preach about Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement” and Paul the encourager and Jesus the Master of encouragement. I had been praying about how I talk too much and don’t listen enough. About how I need to know how to encourage those who are hurting around me. That is my Father’s heart.
Now the tears stung my eyes and I could hardly see a thing because I just couldn’t hold them back. I cannot even write this to share with you because tears are blurring the computer screen! ‘What is wrong with me?’ I was thinking. All day I had been moved by unusual things, feeling like God was breaking my heart for what breaks His, and somehow, I just had to tell this man what I had set out to say.
“Sometimes people are not very nice to you, but you keep smiling and you are always kind in return. I see you! And I appreciate it.”
Didn’t Hagar exclaim, in the desert when God responded to the hopelessness she felt, “He is the God who sees me”?
And Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” Ephesians 1:15-16
It Matters. It matters that we notice and it matters that we encourage. It matters that we keep loving in a dark world that is full of fear and discouragement, and even hate.
“God bless you,” I told him.
“Oh,” he smiled, “God bless YOU!”
Since our family announced that we are moving away, so many people have reached out to say that they appreciate us, will miss us, or don’t want us to leave. Many of them we are not close to and had no idea that they felt this way. I have wondered what would have been different in our time here if we had known. I find myself looking more closely at the people who impact my life every day–people who always brighten my day–and I desire to tell them how much I appreciate them. There are so many. Most are on the peripheral, and yet, they are within my sphere of influence. What would happen if I started telling them that I see them and appreciate them, even without any special motivation?
Before Jesus called His disciples, He saw them. He noticed them. He established a connection with them.
A couple of weeks ago, a young man checked me out of Whole Foods, down in the cities, without every even looking at me. As I picked up my bag, I looked at his name tag and said his name. “David.” He looked up with uncertainty. “David is my dad’s name,” I told him. “It’s a good name.”
You should have seen him smile and agree. The ice was gone. The wall was down. What other opportunities could abound in those moments when we truly connect with another person’s heart?
If only we would take time to see and encourage.