Have you ever given or received a “heavenly” hug? It’s a really cool experience…
I used to think that God couldn’t possibly be interested in the mundane details of my life. He has better things to do, right?
It’s easy to go about our day and forget that he is watching and waiting, eager to break into our reality. He has assignments for us, but he won’t force them. He’s simply waiting for us to take notice and say yes.
My schedule can be crazy at times. I find myself thinking: If I could first make some headway on my to-do list, then I can press pause and cooperate with God. Recently, I learned a lesson about my choices: I can either stick to my own agenda at all costs, or I can see the unexpected curve balls in life as an opportunity to focus on others and to say yes to God’s leading.
One gray, forgettable December morning, I was running errands with my husband. We had scheduled a host of quick stops, with the intention that we wouldn’t be out very long. As the morning unfolded, I noticed that my well-laid plan to have us home in time for lunch was beyond reach. We met an obstacle at every stop: a salesperson went to check on a request of ours and forgot about us, the self-checkout station couldn’t process our coupons, and a cashier realized that she had given me too much change after I had already crammed the money into my bottomless-pit-of-a-purse. These weren’t major annoyances, but something happened to slow me down at every single stop.
In an attempt to speed things along, my husband dropped me off to get groceries while he ran a few more “should be quick” errands. Strolling through the store, I noticed a mother and her young daughter, a cheerful toddler who was engaging anyone who would notice. She was singing to herself in the grocery cart when our eyes met. I smiled and said hello and she beamed. Her electric personality drew me in, and I soon noticed that she had Down Syndrome. As a mom of a special needs child, I gravitate toward children and families who share similar life experiences.
I checked out, bagged my groceries, and walked out of the store, noticing that my husband hadn’t returned. I usually opt to wait inside for warmth, but for some reason I chose to stand outside. Trying to steer clear of people bustling in and out of the store, I noticed the sweet little girl and her mother walking to their van. I smiled and waved good-bye to my new friend.
My husband was still nowhere in sight. Where is this man of mine? I recounted the numerous delays of the morning while resisting the instinct to succumb to frustration. A thought popped into my head: maybe I have been delayed for such a time as this. What if I’m right where God needs me to be, this very moment? PERHAPS he has something for me to do, a special assignment. Ok, what do you have for me, God?
Starting to shiver, my eyes wandered to my right; I noticed the mother in the parking lot with her overflowing grocery cart. She was bagging groceries outside her van in the cold, while her daughter fidgeted in her car seat. My mind flashed back to shopping trips with my son who has autism –where having a root canal was more appealing than embarking on the exhausting task of taking him into a store. I too had bagged groceries at my car when he was young, rather than risk a meltdown in front of an audience.
Is this my assignment, God? Does she need encouragement today?
I walked up to her and said, “I hope this doesn’t sound too weird, but I’d really like to help you with your groceries. I saw you and your daughter inside and she touched my heart.”
With tears welling up, she graciously accepted. I grabbed some bags and got to work. We jabbered while we loaded, spending the next few minutes talking about our special needs children and the daily challenges we face. I offered her encouragement and an understanding heart. In that moment, we were bonded in a spontaneous sisterhood.
Before we parted ways, she hugged me and said, “I was praying this morning, asking God to show me how to bless someone today—and then he decided to send you to bless me. You really made my day!”
In a heartfelt response I said, “It wasn’t me, it was God…he just gave you what I call a heavenly hug!”
I was just a messenger on that December day. My heart was full of gratitude that God broke into the mundane, using me to answer another mother’s simple prayer. I’m so glad that I chose to see my schedule detour as an opportunity rather than a nuisance.