Right now it's tough to see people I haven't seen in awhile because the inevitable question comes up.
"How have you been?"
How have I been? Can broken and grace-filled be used in the same sentence? Or do I just say 'fine' and avoid a conversation?
But when I saw her, I didn't mind if she asked. I even wanted her to. Because everything about her is beauty and kindness and sincerity.
She looked me in the eyes and asked the question.
And even though I hadn't seen her for months, somehow I could tell. She knew.
I stumbled for words and she hugged me. She held me tight and murmured kind words as tears crept to the corners of my eyes. But tears would have to wait, for we only had five minutes. So we quickly talked about me. And him. About her. And her husband's health. And about the faith we both cling to and rest in. The tears stayed in the corners of both our eyes.
This woman is one of the strongest yet most feminine women I know. She knows suffering and pain very well, but I've never seen her bitter or harsh or angry. I met her years ago...when a lanky frizzy-haired teenager asked a lovely, gentle woman what type of floral perfume she was wearing (Jessica McClintock brand, since I know you were wondering!). Who would have thought such a meaningful friendship could develop from that encounter?
Today's encounter was no different. I was comforted and refreshed simply after seeing her. My heavy heart's burden was eased because I knew this woman loved me and cared deeply. I saw her strength in carrying her own crosses...and I was inspired to take up my own cross more joyfully, more faithfully.
All this from one woman. From one moment.
And I wonder...
What do people experience in their encounters with me? Do I help ease their burdens by listening and comforting? Do I spread joy and grace? When they leave me, do they feel loved?
Father, mold me into a woman who opens her eyes to the opportunity to love in each moment, one person at a time.