Not in a great place emotionally.
It is our Freedom from Bondage outreach night. I lead a group for families who have loved ones struggling with addiction.
But this day, I had my own struggles. My hurts. My burdens. To be quite honest, I really didn't even want to be there.
I didn't want to smile. I didn't want to mingle and be fake. I wanted to be alone.
This is me being HONEST.
I am just being real.
The auditorium is huge. Most of the seats were filled. I wanted MY seat. A seat on the aisle. Easy to get in and easy to get out. I could hardly find a parking spot and now I couldn't find a aisle seat. "UGH".
I stood against the outside wall searching for a seat, awkwardly. The music was loud, the band was playing songs of freedom and forgiveness.
I looked around. Its not a typical church service. I come often times from work. My make up is on, lips glossed. My hair has been blown out and styled. I smell like expensive perfume and even on my casual days I am dressed pretty well. I look churchy.
I stand out like a sore thumb!
I am circled by a room full of felons, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, some in recovery, some coming in still liquored up. Some haven't showered in days and smell like stale cigarettes.
Disheveled, discouraged, disordered but all working on another day, a day of hope. A day of recovery.
My Pastor makes us do this little exercise where we look to the left and tell the person next to us They Are AMAZING.
I wasn't in the mood.
I didn't want to play this little game.
But I didn't want the person next to me to think I was a snob, so I dug deeply for a smile, looked to my left and whispered, "Your Amazing."
This man was three seats from me. He was a very slender man. About 6 feet tall with ruffled gray hair. He hadn't shaven and looked tired and weak. He looked at me in the eyes, "Thank you."
The service moved forward.
As the closing song played, I saw the man out of the corner of my eye. He was stuggling to get up and get his coat on. I saw him fumbling with his cane. I reached over, convicted, "Can I help you..?"
I reached around him helping him put his oversized coat on.
"Thank you, what is you name?"
"Hi, I am Anita." I replied with a smile.
He was glowing, "Thank you, are you here every week?"
Helping him with his cane, "Yes, I am."
"You are beautiful, I hope to see you next week,"
I smiled, blushing, "Thank you, I will see you next week."
Here is the thing. My Tuesday turned into Wednesday, then Thursday, and next thing I know it is Tuesday again.
I walk down the aisle, I find my seat on the outside. I set my stuff down in the seat next to me and I open my coffee.
The service goes on like all of them. Powerful, inspirational and encouraging. I go to leave my seat to head down to the tables when..
TAP TAP TAP
I turn around...
"HI, Its Anita right?"
I turn around and there is that man. Cleaned up, bright and smiling.
"HI!" I was caught off guard.
"Anita, It's George, I saved you a seat."
"I SAVED YOU A SEAT."
I felt my face getting flushed. I felt tears wanting to stream down my face.
You see, I WENT ON WITH MY WEEK."
I forgot about him. I was a terrible person. I moved from Tuesday to Tuesday.
He SAVED me a seat. He thought of me.
He told me I was beautiful again, and that he liked my smile.
MY SMILE...You mean the one I forced. Oh, if he only knew.
He thought of me and saved me a seat.
All I had to do was SMILE.
I just had to come out of myself for a brief second, I had to just love on him. I had to look at him in the eyes, I had to tell him he was AMAZING.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. " John 13:34
When all we have to do is smile.
To love on the unlovable.
To be kind to a different kind.
To share a good word.
To help those struggling, someone other than ourselves.
He thought of me all week from a smile.
I felt horrible. And I felt blessed. This man truly blessed me.
His smile, his kindness, his thoughtfulness, his humility...
HE SAVED ME A SEAT..
He saved me a seat again today. I cried like a baby in church.
I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. Humbled. Broken and blessed.
Get out of Yourself and SMILE, Love, Give a kind word.
This Christmas season don't get caught up in gifts that you buy..
Get caught up in the gifts that money CAN'T BUY.