So I had my fact checking husband read this post before I posted it. After some discussion, we realized that we had different reflections on the evening, so we decided to post both.
Last night, the kids were playing in the front playroom, while the Mister and I were cleaning up the dinner dishes and making lunch for tomorrow, when the doorbell rang. I hadn't ordered a single Christmas gift yet, so no UPS truck would be ringing...who would be dropping by on a Monday night? Mr. Smarty answered the door to a 21 year old single mother who was in a program to help her better her life by selling magazines. Have you ever had a knock like that before? This was the second time for me, but the first time that it was a lone girl. It was dark and 30 degrees outside and she was wearing just a small hoodie (that's a sweat shirt with a hood, for those of you who don't do east coast-speak). Well, the Mister explained quickly that this was a tight year for us but if she'd like to come in and warm up for a minute, she was welcome to. I love him. Have I ever told you that? So, in comes a very sweet girl, who sits at our table and tells us her life story, from the death of both her parents to the birth of her three children, one of whom has also passed away.
HELLLOOOO! Is this a golden opportunity to share Christ with someone who has very little hope? How many times does someone come into your kitchen and ask you if you can recommend any books to help them in life?????? This was my first. And I will say I feel like I completely blew it. We have a box full of Bibles in the garage for just an occasion. Really. we bought them when were just out of grad school and made opportunities out of such small moments. We had eyes for those opportunities and were were ready. 7 years and 3 kids later, (one of whom was running around our guest completely naked at one point,) we were less than ready.
Of course, as I was drifting to sleep last night I thought of a million things I would have said.
but I was too late.
I also wondered would there be another opportunity like this? Would I be ready, if there was? How could I be sure I was ready?
And what about LaTissha? She had to have seen the crosses on our wall, or the King of Kings banner right in front of her the entire time. Yet she left our home empty handed. We gave her no hope that she would be prayed for. I barely whispered, "God bless you," as she stepped back into the cold.
Why am I telling this? It is more than embarrassing. It is shameful and regrettable. Honestly, there have been too many opportunities I have missed or not even noticed lately. And more than transparency, I want change. I want to share hope. I want to give Christ this Christmas to someone who is desperately cold.
And now today, as I look at the banner she faced in her chair at our table for 45 minutes, I have to remember that God IS the King of Kings. He is her Heavenly Father, too. Maybe today she will knock on someone's door who is ready, who can offer her more than a cup of tea.
Just after dinner, around 7PM I answered the door. I turned on the light in the front room as I opened the door, only to have the three kids scream and switch it back off because they were pretending to be some kind of scary monsters. It was really cold out, just under 40 degrees. (Sorry, honey. I just checked the online almanac.) I opened the door to a young woman who quickly began to tell me about the program she was involved in that encourages troubled young adults to improve their communication skills and build their confidence by selling magazines. Since we have had several people stop by selling magazines over the past few years, I was a little quick to interrupt to say that it wasn't the best time for us. Seeing the she didn't have very warm clothes on, I said something like, "You must be really cold walking outside all day. Do you want to come in? Can we get you something warm to drink?" I was happy to hear her say yes; I think the first instinct for most people is to decline hospitality. She took a cup of water, and a few minutes later accepted some hot raspberry tea and sat down with us at the dinner table. The kids continued to play wildly in the playroom with brief appearances, but always with friendly smiles on their faces.
During the next 45 minutes, we really found out an amazing amount about LaTissha. She is the oldest of six children, both of her parents passed away a few years ago, she has two children of her own, she is recently separated from her husband who lives in Abilene, some of her siblings live in North Carolina with her grandmother, her oldest son is five years old. Some points I really latched onto: she says her marriage problems that led to her leaving her husband were due to financial strain, he recently graduated from college and has found a good job, he and his family want her to come back, he is the father of her children. Now these facts were just part of her whole story, but if there was anything that I wanted to encourage her to do was to reunite her family. Mostly we just listened throughout the evening; I think that was good because that might be some of what she needed, and I think I have to be careful about giving advice especially when there are so many of her circumstances (having a baby at 16, for example) in which I lack credibility.
At the end of the evening, I did say that there was one thing I wanted to say - that I think her best option is to go back to Abilene to make her marriage work, and that years from now she would be so happy looking back that she did. She then asked if we had any book we could give her with encouraging advice. None came to mind. I know, I know - The Bible. But I knew from the evening that she grew up around the church and that both her grandmother and her husband's mother were in ministry, so I suspected that she had one. For some reason, I told her about the Maya Angelou books I am reading because there are so many similar experiences that she has had as a young woman. As she left, I too felt regret that maybe we missed an opportunity to say more. If there was anything more I would add, I would like to have told her plainly that she needs to place her situation before God and ask Him what to do. However, I immediately felt comfort for a number of reasons. I was glad that this stranger came to visit with us instead of spending those 45 minutes with the usual routine (and her spending those 45 minutes in the cold knocking on doors). I was thankful for the experience that I hope will teach us and change us. I hope that we will become better hosts and encouragers, but I think that it is a growing process that needs more experiences like these to learn from. I hope that LaTissha was encouraged in some way and I pray that she will make good decisions.