In a little diner an hour and a half from home, I started writing. I wrote about a paragraph and felt like it wasn’t what God wanted me to write. So I stopped and started praying. I paused and looked around the diner. I looked at the table in front of mine and saw a little old lady sitting alone. We made eye contact and I smiled. That’s all it took for her to start talking to me. She shared with me that she had cancer and was having surgery in a few weeks to remove it. Her battle with cancer started in 2003 and she was fighting it again after they found another spot.
Our conversation continued and I found out many things about her including her marriage of 41 years to her High School sweetheart that ended when he died of brain cancer many years ago. The doctors told her near the end of his life that she should put him in a nursing home because he would become violent and she needed to protect herself. She told them “absolutely not!” as she explained that just because he may not recognize her enough to fully love her, she still loved him and that’s all the love they needed. She followed that up with a sheepish grin “And he didn’t become violent. Maybe a little childish but never violent.” Then she told me of her second marriage of 21 years, her daughter and granddaughter, her new “smart phone” that she couldn’t figure out so she just turned it off, and that she drove the truck to the diner instead of the car. It was normal conversation with a sweet lady that was craving communication and it blessed me.
I started thinking… How many times do we miss out on these conversations with people because our heads are down and stuck in our virtual world on our phones? How many times is there a sweet old lady who needs to be shown God’s love sitting in the booth next to us at the diner or the seat next to us at the doctor’s office? How many times has there been someone sitting next to us that is in the darkest time in their life and a simple smile of acknowledgement would help her feel like she’s noticed and seen?
How many opportunities have I missed to show God’s love to someone else?
So as I sit here at the diner, thinking about the lady next to me, I realize that she taught me a few things. She taught me that love stands up for someone and that you don’t have to receive love to give it. She taught me that faith gives us hope. She taught me that sometimes it’s better to not understand our smart phones and turn them off, or just turn them off anyway. She taught me that there are still times in life in which we should have conversations with strangers. She took me back to a place where people looked each other in the eye and held face-to-face conversations.
And she taught me that loving others is shown in the simple things, like taking the time out of your day to acknowledge someone else, smile, and simply listen to them.
As you go through your day, think about your surroundings. Find an opportunity to reach out to someone and show that person love. You never know when there may be a little old lady that would love a little company. And when you’re praying, say a prayer for my new friend Audrey who is fighting cancer. She would certainly appreciate it.