I quickly took the girls to the potty and when I returned, I noticed Andy trying to be nonchalant as he watched a lady in the parking lot talk on her phone. I turned to watch more closely and saw that as she talked on her phone she was literally sticking her foot out and pushing away a young boy who was shouting at her. The boy continued to act violent and loud and it seemed obvious to us that she needed to get off the phone and pay some attention to this boy. Andy and I quietly watched and together, we assumed that this was her son. We also began to assume other things. We assumed that this boy was an undisciplined child and that this mother cared more about talking to her friends on the phone than his well being.
We were in a state of shock as this phone conversation continued for a good 10-15 minutes. It got to the point where we started wondering if we needed to get up and intervene. The boy was running around her truck, getting more angry by the minute and his mother continued to ignore him, trying to get away from him and telling him to "stop" every once in while.
But even as we pretended not to watch this event, I could feel His Spirit getting ready to teach us something. The whole event seemed odd to me as I noticed our family and this mom and her boy were the only ones at the park. Later on I found that the rest of her family was way down at the other end of the park.
When she finally got off the phone, she looked over at us noticeably ashamed at what had just happened. Her boy was still angry as she tried to talk with him and he then ran off. She started slowly after him and walked towards us. She began apologizing to us for what we just saw and tried to explain to us that her boy has Autism and other mental disabilities. She then continued to say that she was just speaking to his doctor who had just told them the day before that he needed yet another surgery. The doctor was explaining some important information to her while her son was reacting to this news of having to go through another surgery. Her son had been through previous surgeries and was not happy about her talking with the doctor.
My heart instantly sank as I realized how much I had wrongly assumed about this woman. I began to walk towards her as I imagined how many times this had happened to this woman. While I listened to her I could hear sadness, shame, frustration and loneliness. I just let her talk for a few minutes, wanting to give her a chance to vent these burdens. God was reminding me to be slow to speak as His precious and fragile child once again desperately tried to explain herself. I felt physically tired for her.
As she told her story, I found out that this boy was her youngest of 5 children and has taken much of her attention away from the rest of them. More burdens.
After she had some time to vent and apologize I quickly asked the Lord to speak through me. I asked her for forgiveness for thinking wrongly of her and I apologized for all the many others who have put unintended shame on her; for the looks, the comments, the chastising, and the unfair treatment. I then asked her if I could pray for her. I said that I believed in Jesus and that I know He loves her. She seemed to relax as I said this. She was not a Believer but she knew there was something "bigger" out there.
I prayed with her and asked that His Spirit would speak to her and comfort her. I prayed that she would know His Love for her and her children.
I fumbled through many of my words and it didn't come out as clear as this post but I know that I was put in her path for a very important purpose. I was to love her like Jesus. And actually, I was to love her as if she was Jesus.
I was thankful for my moments with Therese, not only for an opportunity to show His love but for an opportunity to ask forgiveness.
I pray for more revelation of Jesus in everyone I know and meet, whether they know Him or not, so that I might have more tangible opportunities to love Him.
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40