Yesterday I drove with Greg on one of his many road trips. He does weddings and funerals for a living and has numerous meetings throughout the week for these weddings and funerals. It was raining the whole way there. He dropped me off at a local Starbucks – then went on to his meeting. It was a day much like any other. We have done this hundreds of times before.
But yesterday was different. Fall is in the air. And, so it seems – tempers and grumbling – at least where I was. I had chosen a table in the middle of the coffee shop and noticed 3 little girls sitting in the back next to what appeared to be their mother and grandmother with a baby in a car seat on the floor beside them. It is a little unusual to see children in a Starbucks, so I was curious and smiled at them as I sat down. My back was to them and I was very quiet – at my own little table with my iPad – reading and playing games, trying to mind my own business. However as I sat there I became increasingly aware of two very different conversations going on around me. The children’s “mother” was agitated the whole time. They were there a good 1/2 hour after I sat down – there’s no telling how long they were there before I came in. Ahead of me were 2 young females in their early 20’s. One had her back to me and I couldn’t hear what she was saying – if in fact she was saying anything at all. The one facing me seemed to be doing all the talking. It was really quite humorous and hard to concentrate on what I was reading. The young girl – though not unattractive, was certainly drawing attention to herself by talking in a raised voice – so that everyone there heard her rants about a “stupid guy that would not call her back” – her disgust and hatred of children – (she called them “kids”) and how amazed she was that she couldn’t get anyone interested in her! I smiled while looking down at my iPad. I felt like raising my hand and saying, “I know – pick me” but somehow I don’t think my comment or any remarks would be welcomed.
Behind me the woman with the baby and 3 little girls kept yelling in an attempt to keep order. I felt sorry for these girls. How could they be expected to just sit there for so long? When one had to go to the bathroom – I thought the woman was going to have a stroke! Such language and rude comments! I couldn’t hear if the older woman with her was giving her any good advice – or even talking at all – because the mom dominated the conversation the entire time. I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like for the young woman in front of me doing all the talking, to try to have a conversation with the young mom behind me! Who would listen?
I have witnessed rudeness in restaurants in much the same way. Someone doing all of the talking at a nearby table and talking louder than normal to draw attention. I have witnessed young moms in grocery stores who are out of control and I genuinely feel sorry for the baby or young child throwing a fit or crying incessantly. I know that the mom is to blame. There is always a way to diffuse a volatile situation with children. Yelling and being cruel – embarrassing them or finding a way to humiliate them in public is not the way.
As I sat there and heard the sniffling from these little girls – I felt so bad for them. They are trapped. Trapped with a mother who is overworked, tired and fed up. I’m sure that her temper and exhaustion is taken out on them. And too often, those little ones grow up to be exactly the same way.
I wondered if that young girl ahead of me doing all the “trash talking” was one of those. She had not had good classy role models in her life and would never attract the right kind of man. Was she doomed to a mediocre life where everyone else is to blame and there is not empathy or humanity? Where simply being courteous would never occur to them?
What a crazy world we live in. It’s hard to even wrap my brain around it some days. And yet I always try to see the best in everyone. It rarely changes anything – but still I try to never lose hope. And I always wish there was something I could do.
As this young family walked out of the door in front of me I stole a glance at the mom’s face. “Why – she was really young!” , I said to myself. She looked about 25 or so – funny. She had sounded so much older in her anger. I think she used to be very pretty. But now she was just tired and angry. The “grandmother” looked the same way. No hope there. No help for her. Her life was probably over. I whispered a little prayer for her little family. That God somehow would be able to make a difference, shine hope in a dark place and that they would be able to call upon Him.
Can simple kindness, compassion and love really make a difference? Jesus thought so. That is why He chose to come to our crazy mixed up world. To give simple hope to the hopeless and show compassion to the lost and hurting. Help me Lord. Help me be in a place where I can really make a difference and help others that are struggling – not just overhear a conversation or two.