The checkout counter lady turned to me, right there next to my shopping cart and said, "Can I hug you?"
I wasn't expecting it. I hadn't done much to warrant it. I hadn't ushered in world peace to the foundations of her life or dropped all my shopping goods to figure out her life plan or answered her every heart question. All I did was approach her in an authentic way.
When I came up to check out at Trader Joe's (which I super-love, by the way!), she asked, "How's your day? You sure bought a lot…" It was an understatement. My cart was so high the stuff was nearly toppling over on one side.
"I am trying to do a better job at taking care of the family. This is my attempt at it."
She looked at the stuff and at me. Then she opened up about her stuff. I encouraged her and said a couple little things like, "I understand," "I get that" and "It's worth taking a risk. Risks you don't regret, but regret, you do. "
It wasn't much. Not real brainiac stuff, but it was real. And this was the point, I suppose.
A couple days later, I met with another friend. She kind of shocked me when she did exactly the same. We were just hanging out and all of a sudden, she turned towards me, out of the blue, and hugged me. "Kelly, I've been through so much. It has just been one thing on top of another falling. Thank you for being here."
I was taken aback.
Why are these people hugging me out of nowhere? I am doing nothing except being here with them.
With the checkout counter lady, I was with her as she talked about her future education, her fear and her boyfriend.
With my friend, I was with her as she explained how hard of a time it has been for her.
Sometimes, the most impactful thing we can ever be is - with.
Not with - and giving advice.
Not with - and saying, "Oh you know, that once happened to me."
Not with - and counting up what you'll say next.
Not with - and thinking of other things.
Not with - and internally over their issues.
Just - with.
With…and understanding, feeling compassion, seeking to know, truly engaging, asking questions, responding generously, giving our true and painful story when led by God. Something I don't do often, but I guess I did on those days.
The irony is that when you are with someone, you get touched back. God does it one way or another. People reach into your space and give you something you didn't know you needed, but you desperately wanted. They cling to you and through authenticity, you realize you need them as much as they need you. They look at you in a way that lets you know your humility is shifting something in their life.
And one day, it'll be you in their shoes - just needing to vent. It creates a security in your heart. Things will be okay.
"A friend loves at all times.” Prov. 17:17