When a Chance Encounter Restores Your Faith in Humanity
What had I done to deserve such harsh criticism? What had I done to deserve getting berated by a stranger when I was merely trying to buy a pair of mittens?
What had I done to deserve any of this -- the criticism, the miscarriages, the infertility problems, the financial setbacks, the loneliness, the cruelty of strangers?
Why did the universe seem to be so against me? Why, in God’s name, was everything so damn hard? And where was this supposed God to help me through this crap? Enough, I thought, enough. I give up.
I was tired and broken and weak. I had no fight left in me.
“Thank you,” I responded, surrendering myself to something outside of myself, something bigger than my own fragile emotions. “I appreciate your advice. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.”
I turned back to the clerk and handed her my credit card. After signing the receipt, I grabbed my purchases, took my son’s hand as he clutched that damn white teddy bear, and shuffled out of the store.
More tired, more broken, and weaker than ever, I tried to hustle my son to our car so that I could have my emotional breakdown in private, but we weren’t more than a few steps out of the store when a red sedan pulled up and its passenger window went down. A round-faced man, who looked to be in his early forties, leaned over across the seat.
“Excuse me,” said the man as I braced myself for another confrontation. “I just wanted to tell you that I saw what happened in the store. I was humbled and amazed. You handled that situation beautifully and I am inspired. You have inspired me. I will carry that with me the rest of the day as I try to be a better person. Thank you.”
And just like that, the red sedan drove off. I stood there on the curb for a few moments, stunned and marveling at the profound impact that this odd group of strangers had all had on each other. Afterwards I sat in the car for what felt like hours, but was probably just a few minutes. While I clutched that damn white teddy bear, a few tears rolled down my cheeks. And then I smiled, finally knowing that everything would be alright.
I needn’t have wondered about the hostility of the universe or the cruelty of humanity. Everything that I had doubted was clearer now than ever before. Because on that cold fall day, Grace showed up in an Old Navy parking lot dressed as a round-faced, forty-year-old man driving a red sedan.
And, yes, it might have even been in that damn white teddy bear too.