BY R.L. Witter
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
— Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
These are strange days. Sheltering in place without visitors has become our new normal, as has standing in line at stores in hopes of finding toilet paper, disinfectant, and dry goods such as rice, beans, and flour. Honestly, I never could’ve imagined this prior to it happening—and certainly not here in America.
In early March as I purchased a few non-essential items such as cookies, ice cream, and crackers, a little, hunched over, old man asked if I needed help carrying my bags to my car. I politely declined and as I was about to leave the store, God put it on my heart to ask the man, “Are you okay? Do you need anything?” The man was counting coins in his hand and replied, “Do you have 62 cents? I’m short 62 cents.” I didn’t have any change, but I handed him a $20 bill and said, “This should cover it.” I then noticed he was purchasing dry milk, canned peas, and ramen noodles. The man thanked me and attempted to hand me his change and the change from the $20. “No, no,” I said. “That’s for you.” The man’s face spread into a smile of wonderment as he thanked me profusely and said, “Oh boy! Now I can go back and get some more stuff!” But before shopping, he insisted on walking me to my car.
As we walked he explained he had spent the day at the supermarket offering to help people carry their groceries in hopes of making a few
dollars. “My social security check doesn’t go so far anymore,” he explained before adding, “I didn’t have much luck and I don’t know when I’ll get out again to the store, but then you showed up.” I told him I was glad I could help and thanked him for walking me to my car. I then sat and watched him return to the store, hoping he could get more of what he needed.
When I later shared my experience with my husband he simply said, “That’s just who you are. If God put it on your heart then you did the right thing.” Since then I’ve dropped off toilet paper and soap to my diabetic friend who also has asthma, and my older relatives in their 70s were thrilled to receive a delivery of milk, a rotisserie chicken, disinfectant wipes, and distilled water for a CPAP machine. I’ve begun making masks.
Now is not the time to be proud. As the late, great Bill Withers sang, “…For no one can fill/ Those of your needs/ That you won’t let show.” Now (and really always) is a time for kindness and compassion, as well as face masks and gloves. It’s a time to put our faith and values into practice while remaining safe and healthy.