Welcome Hartlee Kirk back to Hungry For More. We love it when you visit us with your insights, Hartlee!
“The law declares it a crime. The woman had violated this law; therefore, she was at fault. As she hastily loaded Target bags into her suburban, the man wearing the polo shirt seemed determined to point this out.
“You just have no idea!” the woman sternly replied from her spot designated ‘Handicap Parking Only’. He prodded and harassed, while she finally hoisted the Graco stroller into the trunk.
“You just have no idea!” I knew the feeling. I passed by this exchange clutching a five-month-old in one hand while digging for keys with the other. The heaviness of my own plastic bags cut into my wrist, preventing circulation flow.
“As I started my car, I pondered: What had her day been like? Was someone in her family sick? Was this her fifth errand of the day? Had her children already had a meltdown in the checkout line? Was her husband not able to help? Was she single? Was she hurting?
“No one knew except her.
“Frustrated Mom, I understand. My husband and I have regularly experienced two-week separation. I’ve functioned as a single-parent half of the month, while he’s worked offshore. Time made the struggle more bearable, but it was never easy. I too have experienced combined levels of anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. When someone took eight seconds to hold a door as I clambered through with a bulky stroller, they became my hero.
Humanity needs more heroes and less critics.
“That man outside of Target that day helped the situation in zero ways. His words cut without mending; hurt without healing.
“She was guilty of parking with no sticker; he was guilty of barking with no grace.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?… Take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s” (Matthew 7:4-5).
“Interestingly, last week I had the pleasure of an opposite experience.
“With Anderson on my left hip, I slid the last box of groceries into the trunk. As I pulled the rear door down, I noticed a car waiting for my parking spot. Rushing to make my space available, I bumped Anderson’s head with the hatchback. Thankfully it was a mild incident without a scratch, bump, or bruise, but resulting in tears since he was overdue a nap.
“I’m the worst mom ever,” I thought as I embraced my baby chest-to-chest in an effort to comfort and calm us both. As the man in his sixties walked towards me, I assumed he was either going to lecture or criticize.
“With gentleness, he calmly asked “Is there some way I can help you?” Then, clasping the cart handle with his weathered hands, he rumbled the rickety wheels across the concrete. I barely uttered “Thank you so much” before my hero was out of sight, unaware of the impact his simple kindness made.
“He could have criticized my judgement in the same manner as the man in the previous story. But instead, he chose grace. He saw a flustered mom and made the decision to reflect kindness and helpfulness. He too “had no idea.”
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
“Sometimes the obedience to love feels uncomfortable. It may mean asking a stranger if you can help. It can feel scary, awkward, and even insignificant. Pride is often the tallest hurdle to overcome in an opportunity to show kindness. But when your mind defies the gravity of self-tendencies and launches forward, it allows your feet to land next to a person needing grace. When we look away from our own assumptions, we will likely notice a crowd desperate for love in action.
“Before criticizing, ask “When have I felt, acted, or spoken in a similar way?” Difficult days come to everyone; we are all in need of grace. Jesus extends grace on a regular basis due to daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute shortcomings. When we mirror His grace in our response to others, we preach the gospel with our actions.
“Choose for today: will you be a quick critic, or an unsung hero bearing the cape of kindness?”
Hartlee’s delightful little Anderson, who has wavering opinions about shopping: