Surely I was mistaken. There she was in a crowd of women who knew her well and she belonged. I, on the other hand, was the new girl.
I noticed how she interacted and mingled with the other moms-but I also noticed her smile. It seemed forced. She looked...angry. Like she was simply trying to contain a well-spring.
But that couldn't be right. I didn't even know her from Adam. Chiding myself for being judgmental, I shook off my first impression. And yet it persisted through the year until in one vulnerable moment she shared that she had been enduring a great sorrow. She was angry-sorting through what God was doing in her life.
Ah...I was right. I had dismissed my intuition-the Holy Spirit nudging me that something was amiss. And I missed an opportunity to dig deeply with her because I was the new girl who didn't know any better and was trying to be nice, not create waves with people.
It was a year of several new gatherings for me and I decided to join a Bible study. As I was driving to the home where we would meet, I promised myself that I would open myself up to what God would have for me with this group of women. That I would give the group a chance and not be too opinionated.
When we sat around the table to introduce ourselves, I tried not to cling to my first impressions. The woman across from me had the most beautiful brown eyes...but she rarely raised them to meet me in the eye. The grief I saw there struck me almost as much as their beauty. Again, I shook off the thought that she was suffering-I had just met her half an hour ago! The following week, we met again. Our leader told us that the beautiful brown-eyed woman would not be joining us again. She was enduring a family torn apart and other trials necessitated that she drop the group from her schedule. And there it was again. My gut reaction was correct. She was a woman broken.
It made me wonder.
I thought back to a time in my own life just a couple years prior.
We had moved to a small town where we knew almost no one. There were many happy and wonderful times there and truly amazing people that were kind to us. But it was deeply lonely for me too.
I missed my friends that had known me most of my life. As an extrovert and someone who craves deep community, it was a difficult time. Adjusting to a new town, settling a home, raising two toddlers and then a pregnancy and birth of a third son, a demanding job for my husband, and then being laid off....much tumult and few opportunities to breathe.
Eventually, we made the decision to move back to Los Angeles. God had unquestionably made it clear that we were to pursue His dream for us and so we made plans to follow.
I took the boys for one last appointment with their pediatrician. I dreaded it. Dr. Browning was the dearest and most wonderful physician you could ever dream of for your children. He had helped us through several traumatic medical issues with our kids, including a painful surgery for our oldest son and the care of our newborn when at 3 months he was deathly ill and hospitalized. Visiting Dr. Browning always felt like visiting family.
As strange as it sounds, I felt like he was a close friend and that he, of all people, really knew me. Patient and endearing, he took the time to really look at me and talk with me. He was the king of perfect bedside manners and I was conflicted about how to tell him we were moving.
As soon as he entered the little room, he asked me, “Are the rumors true?”. News travels fast in a small town.
He had already heard that we were leaving. I explained that we were indeed moving away and how we felt excited to be pursuing our dreams.
And then he said the words that ring in my ears to this very day. “We will miss your family but I'm so glad for you. When you first moved here, you were full of hope. But you lost your light. And now I see it coming back again. I'm happy for you.”
He didn't know it, but I wept all the way home. I felt so unseen for so long. Carrying a private pain trying to fit in, do it all, make a happy life. It wasn't something I was even fully cognizant of. Dr. Browning was right-I had slowly been losing my light. I wondered, had anyone else noticed too? Internally, I had never even had the chance to sort through the emotions of all I had gone through in the last two years.
When one person acknowledged that they saw my heart, I came undone. So someone had noticed after all. My brave front, welcoming spirit, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps attitude had not fully masked my loneliness. I wasn't even fully aware of it myself. Dr. Browning's kind assessment gave me the freedom to acknowledge my sorrow myself. And to find solace.
In many appointments over tongue compressors, growth charts, and observations, Dr. Browning had helped heal my children over and over again. And unbeknownst to him, in one final brief appointment and a candid conversation, he also helped to heal my heart.
I was known. Someone had seen me.
And it made me feel less lonely. Less like those years had been a masquerade of what I was enduring.
What if I had done that for those other women? What if I had not allowed my civilities to keep me from gently prodding or lovingly inquiring, or kindly ministering?
As women, I never want to encourage us to be gossipy or overstep our bounds when it comes to connecting with other women. But I do think that we often dismiss the Holy Spirit's prompting to reach out to others. I know I do.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where we were more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and acted on His promptings?
For me, I'm learning to quiet the voices that dismiss that intuition. I'm trying to be more in tune with what God would have me say or do when I sense that something is just not quite right, regardless of how long I have known them or what the situation is.
I want to be okay with my awkwardness and take the plunge.
You and I are the hands and feet of Jesus in our world. Sometimes we dismiss our ideas about people when in actuality God has given us a chance to see them through His eyes. I'm not set out to evaluate every person that is before me, but when I sense something that I know is from the Lord, my prayer is that my response will be one of compassion that I can't ignore. If you have sensed that there is someone in your path that God keeps placing on your heart, don't overlook it. Trust that God has given you a glimpse of their heart and be purposeful to bless them.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Romans 12:9-10 The Message
Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. Phillipians 2:4
YOUR TURN! Has anyone ever ministered to you when you really needed it? Do you find it challenging to follow through when you feel the Holy Spirit nudge you?
If this post blessed you, please SHARE it with others! I love to hear your comments!!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well! View an Exciting Reality Show Life By Design, A TV Project with Lisa Leonard, Holley Gerth, and Dee Kasberger!