I'm walking around the deli in Target when a woman walking beside me on the phone says, "I feel horrible. Another year of not being able to get my kids gifts. I'm tired of feeling like a failure in their eyes. I'm tired of not feeling like I'm enough." I walk around looking for meat and walk in front of her. While checking something on her phone, she slams her cart into my Achilles. I turn around and she grunts into frustration, "I'm so sorry. I can't do anything right right now." I told her it was okay. I begin walking with her behind me again and hear a deep breath met with a sad whimper, I stop, and she slams into my Achilles again. She said, "UGH, I'm sorry." I laughed and told her it was my fault. I looked at her and said,
"I overheard your conversation back there and I'm so sorry. I've gotten so many gift cards from here this Christmas, can I give you them?"
"What? Why would you do that? Why would you be so generous?"
"Well, generosity is a trust that I have enough. It's easy to become anxious when you feel like you don't have enough. I can do this because someone has been generous too me. I feel like I have enough because these don't represent monetary things but that I have succeeded in my work, that I am valued and loved by the people who gave them to me."
I handed them to her and told her the amount. She started crying and thanked me. She asked me if I would help her pick out gifts for her kids. I told her that I would walk with her but would be of no help since my toy buying stopped at video games in my adolescence (and still occurs today).
She told me about her kids. Her son, 10, who is obsessed with Star Wars, so that's what she picked out for him. She told me that she feels he'll be an artist of some sort someday and that he's really talented. She hopes to find a way to get him classes to develop those skills. She also told me about her daughter, 8, who is really into animals. She got her Secret Life of Pets, with some coloring books and action figures. She hopes that she'll someday be a vet or a vet tech.
We checked out together and she thanked and hugged me at the door. She thanked me deeply saying that I alleviated that feeling of humiliation. When I was walking out, Luke 16 popped into my head and that God's economy is about friendship. A man gave work and money to accumulate friends. I felt grateful, even as I felt a little poorer, because God has been generous with me and God is inviting me into a less lonely world with friends surrounded by me. I feel blessed that that's the world that God wants me in. A world where we can love and be loved. - Thank you, Mike Friesen