Are you okay? I asked the woman as I approached her.
Yeah! I was already having a bad day. Then THIS happened!
My man and me were headed out for a matinee when we rounded a curve to find a woman standing in the ditch crying, her hoopty of a car obviously broken with the tire pointing 90 degrees in the opposite direction of which she was headed.
She was beside herself sobbing so I did the only thing I knew to do in the moment…I asked her her name then gave her a hug.
I pieced bits of Nikki’s story together in between the Lucille Ball like sobs and stutter breathing. I began to see that her car wasn’t the only thing broken. She had just dropped her boyfriend off at work when she got a call from her daughter that the daughters boyfriend had stranded her in a parking lot in Sharonville with her one year old who hadn’t eaten yet and was crying because he was hungry. Mom can you please come pick us up?
She didn’t have the money for gas to drive all the way over there but you can’t let your kid be stranded. What else could she do but go pick her up and try to figure out how to get some food for the baby. And then this happened. She started sobbing again.
She had called her Dad who was mad that she was driving to Sharonville. She called her brother who was trying to get over to help but wasn’t sure when he could leave work. She couldn’t call her boyfriend because he would go back to jail…(I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to know.)
Her husband had left her nine months ago for another woman and had accused her of doing drugs. She assured me she wasn’t and even showed me her arms…see, I don’t have any needle marks.
She didn’t know where they would stay tonight because not only was this her mode of transportation, it was her home when work was scarce and dresser for all she owned.
My man was standing in the background, taking it all in, letting me do what I do…listen and soothe, comfort and calm. He is a fixer of things not necessarily people so his mind went immediately to what it would take to get her car fixed.
I know what some of you are thinking. I had those thoughts too. This woman was a hot mess of broken down and busted up. Her life was a domino of poor choices. She fit such stereotypical molds that it would have been easy to tell her to get her act together and walk away shaking my head in disgust. To say, You made this bed…
As her story continued, I prayed Lord let me see her as you do…. made in Your image.
It’s easy isn’t it? It’s easy to let skepticism replace compassion, to let animosity blind our humanity. Cynicism crowds out sympathy. Indifference becomes our go to instead of grace. This world is wearying with want. It’s easy to allow our hearts to harden.
Compassion…a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering…has to start somewhere.
I could get on my soapbox and get all up in your grill here…guilting you…I mean…
We could talk about how many times Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw people hungry and sick. How he fed and healed them without asking how in the heck they got there.
We could talk about how Jesus met the woman at the well and saw more than someone who had been married five times plus a live in. Or how Jesus stood in the middle of the circle of Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery daring the elites to throw the first stone.
We could talk about Jesus explaining to the disciples that when you feed, clothe, care for and visit the least of these, you are feeding, clothing, caring for and visiting Jesus himself.
We could. But I don’t want to sound preachy and I sure as heck don’t have my act all together. Compassion is a condition of the heart and Lord knows my heart is deceitful on the best of days.
It IS hard. We AREN’T Jesus. People ARE a mess. This world IS broken.
But it has to start somewhere.
I believe the timing was divine. We were given an opportunity to choose: the gavel of judge and jury or the cloak of care and compassion. We may not always get it right but we chose the latter this time.
Todd looked at me and I at him, knowing we were supposed to help her get her car fixed. So he did what he does best and started making calls to some of his connections (my man knows people…)
I gave her another hug and whispered in her ear, We may not be able to fix everything that’s broken but we can at least help you get your car fixed.
The look of disbelief and relief was worth the cost of the repair. I have no idea what will happen to Nikki, if she will continue to tip over the domino of poor decisions. But I do know this, she needed someone to cut her a break not cut her down.
No. I can’t fix everything but I can do this one thing. I can show compassion.
It starts with me.
Fiercely for you!
PS Ironically we missed the movie we were supposed to see. The Glass Castle is a true story about a family who moved often because of bill collectors, lived in their car when necessary and struggled to survive. We traded reel life for real life that day.