I hear my children playing in the background, and I feel the pull of my attention for somewhere else. Where the work I’m doing is work the world can see, the kind that used to earn me raises and accolades. Or where I’m feeding the poor or clothing the needy and not just folding another stack of shirts.
I am consumed by the present pulls of my needy ones, and sometimes I want to be somewhere besides this moment where my discontent and failings and irritation are a reality.
I try to remember that small and invisible things are big ones. I try to remember to look into eyes and listen with both ears to stories and know that small things that are big ones move with me and us outside of this house.
Years ago, in earlier times of mother invisibility, I longed to see God’s Spirit move, and I asked my Maker to show me needs I could help touch. While Sici spent the morning in preschool, God carried me and J, my fuzz-headed baby, to the close-by mall.
Right to the salesclerk in an accessory store who stood alone, checking her face in the mirror and looking at the burns that covered one cheek. Her face was twisted with a kind of self despising that I recognized.
“How are you?” I asked, approaching from the front of the store.
“Really?” I asked as J and I drew closer.
“No, not really,” she answered. “I can’t imagine how anyone would ever love me looking like this. I am so ugly.”
She talked for a while about her burns and the fire-scorched ground of her life while I scooted J’s stroller back and forth, hoping my baby would be content to look at shiny baubles for a while.
I listened, and the salesclerk cried, and I prayed no one would enter the store. And it was just us three.
After the young woman stopped talking, I asked if I could pray for her. I placed my hand on her shoulder and said she was beautiful and loved, and I asked for God’s love and life to fill her broken places, and the tears rolled down both our cheeks.
I didn’t know if she trusted me because I was a mom or because I looked like a woman who would understand, but there we were that day — a young mother, a 20-year-old salesclerk and a baby rocking back and forth in the space between the long beads and dangly earrings.