It started with a peace offering in the form of a Subway Sandwich.
I plumb forgot about my son’s “Student of the Month” ceremony, so the next day I told him I would bring him lunch to school from the restaurant of his choice – usually something done the day of the ceremony. Come noontime, the minivan and I wheel into Subway, and I order a Spicy Italian for my boy and me.
After bringing the fixings-laden sandwiches to the car, I look at the clock and realize I had quite a bit of time before his lunch started at school. So, I decide to fill up the gas tank. Approaching the gas station, I notice a woman across the street with thick, long strawberry blonde hair standing on the side of the road. She holds a cardboard sign with the words:
Family of 4 in need of help. Anything is appreciated.
I keep going because honestly, that’s what I usually do. I whisper a prayer for her as I pull into the gas station.
While Mrs. Minivan drinks her fill, I look back to where the woman is standing. I think about what I can do to help her and am convicted to start keeping restaurant gift cards in my car like my husband does. After paying for the gas, I get inside the van and look through my wallet. Nothing but a little change. Then I lay eyes on my half of the Subway sandwich.
“Well, it’s not much, but it’s something.” I think to myself.
So I drive over to the other side of the gas station, find an out of the way place to park. And that’s when I notice it: A man standing above her on the hill, making his way towards her. At first I think he must be offering to help, and by the way she turns around and sets down her sign she must have, too. We were both wrong. I couldn’t make out his exact words, but from the way his face screwed up all angry and his body language jerked, he wasn’t being helpful or kind.
She didn’t engage him or defend herself. She just turned back around, body tense as she picked back up her sign.
I felt the Lord tell me in that moment,
“Your words are a sign for the state of your heart, and they lead you to act on 2 choices: To be helpful or hurtful.”
So often I choose wrong. Like the man on the hill, I make a decision about someone from what I think I see in a moment without knowing her life story, without any context of relationship. And from that assumption I make choices that hurt.
I quickly walk up to her, look her in the eye and hand her my sandwich. I tell her I know it isn’t much, but maybe it still helps? She smiles wide and offers a thank you.
I don’t know if the woman’s own choices got her in that desperate place, someone else’s choices, or a combination of both. It doesn’t matter. When God dots our path with someone in need, He only asks we fill it with compassion. Sometimes an offering of compassion looks like prayers. Sometimes it looks like a smile. Sometimes it looks like a Subway sandwich. But it always looks like helping the broken heal, if only by the smallest of margins.
Lord, You know best what compassionate and helpful look like in each situation. May we trust You and lean on You as we walk out those answers in our daily lives, making them a peace offering of thanksgiving for You.
What does compassion look like in your life today?