Today I met an angel. At Aldi. It's true!
These things happen everyday, but sometimes, sometimes, they slap us so hard that we actually recognize them.
Today, I met an angel.
Let's back up a minute...
I have a lot of strengths. I am good at a lot of things. Driving is not one of them.
I take that back. I am a decent driver. I am just not a good parker. And this is nothing new. I was just as horrible when I had hands! Most of the time, it has more to do with my being distracted by children giggling, fighting, whining, or screaming. But my husband would say I'm just a little spacey.
You can tell this just by glancing at my van. There are so many scratches and dents that even my husband can't discern whether I've bumped or scraped the garage door again. (Bonus of an having an older vehicle!)
Suffice it to say that I "bump" things a lot.
However, today's "bump" was an unusual one. There may not be a new dent in my van, but I am forever changed.
It had been a typical Monday morning of running around with the kids. My older girls missed their bus, so I had to hurriedly drive them to school. I dropped Jeannie off at preschool (on time, for once); and I got Ben to his doctor's appointment (almost on time) to get the cast off his arm, just in time to receive the phone call that Maizie was sick and needed to be picked up. Tired yet?
With Maizie in tow, I raced in and out of Aldi, just in time to make it back to preschool for the one o'clock pickup. (Yup, it's still only one o'clock.)
While inching out of my parking space, I had turned around to look out the rearview window. All coasts were clear.
But then, BUMP!
I felt it louder than I heard it. Nothing more than a little tap really. Still, it was enough to scare me! I made sure Maizie was ok (she was), then jumped out of my van to see this LITTLE car, so little in fact, that its size explained its invisibility from my rearview mirror. (I have to admit my great relief that I couldn't have avoided her). It reminded me of an old-school Datsun, and its condition made my car look like I had just driven it off the show room floor.
Driving this LITTLE car was a LITTLE lady who jumped out and walked around to check her car for dents as I shouted my apologies and asked if everyone was OK.
I, too, scanned her car for an extra ding or dent, but it was impossible to tell because her LITTLE car was nothing but dents and dings. (It's probably not worth mentioning, but I never did check my own van - maybe I should get on that...)
That's when she saw me, I mean really saw me, disabilities and prosthetics and all.
She raised her hand and told me to "Stay put!" while she pulled into a parking spot. Anxiously wondering what would happen next, I followed her command and waited.
She got out of her car and walked towards me with purpose. And that's when I really saw her.
The LITTLE lady wore a toboggan on this warm-ish Spring day and had bits of gray hair peeking out around her face. She had leathery, well-worn skin and dressed in an eclectic mix of well-worn clothes. The one thing that stood out to me was that her shirt had big lettering on the front. It was written three times, one on top of the other,
I have to admit, I was afraid. This LITTLE lady had a gleam in her eye. She was forming the words she wanted to say to me. I thought for a moment that she might yell at me to "watch where you're going!" Then yell that I had no business driving with fake hands and feet, that I was a danger to society and to the child I drove around...
But, instead, her face softened, she smiled, and she proclaimed,
"Go. Go with grace."
"What? Really?" Was all I could come up with.
"Yes." She replied. "I humbly tell you to go with grace. I am humbly honored to say to you 'Go with grace.' Just go."
"Well...thank you," I mustered.
I almost turned around, jumped in my car, and sped off before she could change her mind. But, almost in a trance, I was drawn to her.
"I can see that you have been through enough in your life without having to worry about my old car. Everything is forgiven."
She went on...
"I want you to know that God had no part in this."
Pointing to my leg, she continued, "He doesn't do this kind of thing out of punishment or anger. He only wants good things for you. He only wants you to have every gift imaginable."
This LITTLE lady had big things to say. She kept repeating for me to go, yet something wouldn't allow me to leave. She kept telling me she wanted me to have grace and mercy.
She wanted to assure me that she was "not doing this out of pity, for that is a whole different thing all together." Instead, she wanted to "extend mercy. They are two entirely different things," she says. "No one wants to feel pity. Child, I am humbly honored to meet you, to know you."
"You are amazing! Look at all you do, and you exude such joy! People see you, and their attitude immediately changes from complaining to just gratitude!"
"And I have a message for you. I am here to tell you to write your story. I know you have one."
This LITTLE lady was not the first to tell me that I need to write a book. And, don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to write a book. I've thought about it, and I've even started to write a book. Several times, in fact. But it is overwhelming, to say the least. I have trouble with basic life skills - grooming, showering, and dressing! How can I possibly make time to write a book? Plus, need I remind you that I don't have fingers?
The doubts abound! Even if I could physically write a book, with dictation apps and such, who would publish it? Agents are not banging on my door, to say the least. Hiring a book shepherd or choosing to self-publish cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Dollars that aren't covered by a pastor's salary! In fact, I need to get a job and be bringing money in to the budget, not taking money out, for heaven's sakes!
As if she could read my thoughts, the LITTLE lady takes me by the shoulders, looks me straight in the eyes, and says,
"God loves you. He only wants the best for you. But He wants you to share your story."
"I will," I promise.
"What is your name, dear child?"
I tell her, and she goes on,
"Kristan, I've had a hard life. Nothing to this level, but I know your story is powerful because you, Kristan, are powerful."
At that point I ask for her name, and she replies,
"My name is Love."
I smile, for this had to be a joke.
"Yes," I say, "but what is your name? "
"Love is my name," she tries to convince.
I shrug and offer that I've always thought the words "God" and "love" could be used interchangeably.
She points to the word on her shirt, nods, and repeats, "My name is Love."
I tell "Love" that I had dreamed of writing a book and traveling around to share it, but that now I would definitely do it. I want to ask for more details (like how do I fund it!), but I also know that I am on a time crunch for preschool pickup. (Anyone who has ever had a child in preschool or daycare knows that you can not be late for pickup!)
"Love" then repeated, "Write your book. Spread this story. You have to tell people. Promise me you'll write that book. It will be big. It will be like Big Mike, that movie with Sandra Bullock!"
I smile and shrug again with nervous laughter, "Sure."
Again - "You need to speak, Kristan, go all over the country doing speeches, tell your story."
(Mind you, she couldn't even have known my story. For all she knew, I had lost my limbs trying to bomb a daycare!)
She sees Maizie and comments, "And you have a child! Through all of this, you are raising a beautiful child! I can take one look at her and know how happy she is!"
If only she knew that I actually had not one, but five children! But she never asked, and she never wondered aloud (like most people do), "what happened?"
This is when I just had to leave - it was past one o'clock already. The director of our preschool is an angel herself, and I knew she wouldn't mind my being a few minutes late; but still, I could not take advantage of her kindness.
I wanted to talk to LOVE more. I felt torn; but, in the end, I had to go pick up my baby girl.
So I hugged her, thanked her one last time for her kindness, and said goodbye.
Maizie, my eight-year-old, somewhat anxious child, was mesmerized. As we got back into the car, I was predicting that Maizie would soon burst into tears and tell me she was terrified.
But, no. Maizie was calm and collected.
"Gosh Mom, that lady was nice! Don't you think? She didn't even call the cops on you, and then she was just so....nice!"
When I got to Jeannie's school, I hugged her extra tight. And I plopped onto the chair in the office of Miss Tara, the preschool director. I must have looked pale as a ghost; and, by this point, tears were streaming down my face.
"What's wrong?" Miss Tara worried.
But then I told her that I had (literally) run in to "Love."
"You met an angel, Kristan!" she exclaimed. "Today, you met an angel!"
If anyone would know an angel when she saw one, it would be Miss Tara.
So, yes. I met an angel.
I know this story is unbelievable. It sounds crazy. Had you been there, you might have thought that "LOVE" was delusional, or that "LOVE" was my delusion.
But I have never witnessed something so real.
Still, I know that many will shake their heads and dismiss my story. Some will laugh out of nervousness and discomfort with the topic.
My own husband, a soon-to-be-pastor, was not particularly moved by my telling of it either. (His attention to the story ended with his relief that I wasn't getting punished for bumping Love's car!)
Even my Bible Study Class's reaction was mixed. Some shook their heads and turned immediately back to our course material, as if they were two unrelated topics. However, a few did believe that it was a "God moment" and that I should follow the command to write my book.
One woman was excited and smiled with pride, "Kristan, I think you have the beginning of your book."
Yes. Yes, I do.
And yet, I could have gone on with my day and my life, dismissing "Love" as just another crazy person I'd met at Aldi (believe it or not, there have been many).
But I didn't.
Today, I heard "Love"'s message, loud and clear. But I am fairly certain that there have been other occasions where I've ignored or dismissed people and things that were speaking to me. Have you?
What is the dream you've been putting off for someday? What is your "book"?
Tell me. I'd love to hear from you.
In the meantime, I'll be writing my book.