As long as I live, I will never forget him.
He was a big man, probably about 6‘5” and would probably weigh in at well over 300 pounds. His left arm appeared to have been amputated just above his elbow, where he was now sporting a mechanical prosthetic hook. I’m guessing that he was a farmer, because he had obviously put on his best pair of new denim overalls to come to town and take the little woman to Sunday brunch. This big, gruff guy honestly looked somewhat out of his element in this elegant restaurant, with its crystal chandeliers and upholstered high-backed booths.
The kids and I had just come from church and were all dressed up in our Sunday go-to-meetin clothes. We had just survived one of the most difficult years of our life. Their dad and I had divorced, we had moved to a new town, the kids were adjusting to new schools, and I was adjusting to being a single mom working 12 hour days to make a living. The time I had with the kids had become very precious to me, and I tried to do special things with them on the weekends, so every once in awhile we would splurge and come to this fine restaurant for Sunday brunch. I was completely unaware that we were being watched. My son was only about 8 at the time, and every time he returned back from the buffet table with his latest whipped cream creation, the expression on his face would reveal his obvious delight. My daughter was about 11, and spent her time filling me in on what she and her best friends were doing at school and generally making fun of her brother’s food choices.
I hardly noticed the man sitting three tables down before he and his wife stood up to leave. As they passed our table, he stopped and took the time to smile and look each of us in the eye. All he said was, “Y’all have a nice day.” I thanked him.
Later (after a few more waffles and whipped cream) I asked for our check. The waitress told me it had already been taken care of by the man in the overalls. I was speechless. I was so touched by his kindness and generosity, that I couldn’t keep the tears from welling up in my eyes. I don’t know why he picked up our check. Perhaps he sensed my loneliness or simply noticed the obvious absence of a husband and father in the picture, but to me, he was an angel.
What he couldn’t have known, was that I couldn’t have felt more alone in the world that morning. My heart was in a million pieces, and it took every ounce of strength I could muster just to get out of bed every day and keep going. I had been abandoned by the man I loved, and as a result I had made a personal vow to never need a man for anything again. I even found it hard to hug my own father (whom I adore) at that time in my life, simply because he was a man. So, when this man picked up our check, he couldn’t have known the magnitude of what his kindness meant to me. It was as though God was reminding me that even in the depths of my hurt and despair, that He hadn’t left me. I had been touched by an angel.
This year at Christmas time I am reminded of all the single people out there that feel more alone during the holidays than at any other time of year.
I was just reminded last night by a dear friend that said she hates to go to church on Christmas Eve because everyone is always there with their families. To someone alone at Christmas, this loneliness can cut like a knife. I remember it feeling like an empty hole in your soul that never completely goes away. Some single parents are struggling to make a Christmas for their children. Most would give anything just to know someone notices them. I have to confess that it’s very easy to make our plans with our families, and never give one thought to those that don’t have the love they long for. I wouldn’t have known how hard it can be to be single unless I had walked that path myself.
So my Christmas wish this year is that God will show me someone that needs to feel loved in a very special way, and then show me what to do about it. I hope you will join me and reach out to someone alone at Christmas this year, too. You might share a card or a cup of coffee. The most important thing is that you share a bit of yourself through a random act of kindness with someone that feels alone at Christmas. Don’t think for a moment that you can’t make a difference. You may just be the angel they’ll never forget!
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
I hope you have the Merriest of Christmases!Leave a Comment
Holley Gerth says
This is such a beautiful story, Jeannie. It brought tears to my eyes. And, yes, you’re so right that we need to remember those who may struggle a bit more at Christmas. Couples going through infertility do too–that’s the path I’ve walked. Thanks for your tenderness and sensitivity, for sharing your words here.
I Live in an Antbed says
Okay, I’m crying again!!! Thank you! Thank you for giving me a window through which to glimpse this pain. I can be oblivious in my blessings of a loving husband and children and abundance. I don’t want to miss a single opportunity He has for me to be His Hands and Feet. I’m so thankful you were Loved by that precious angel at that perfect moment. And that, through it, you glimpsed His Face. Beautifully told.
Thank you. As a single woman, it is so hard around the holidays. It’s also not fun to go to Christmas Eve services either. I suck it up and go with my family but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I got envious of the people there with families of their own. But, God is faithful and I do believe that one day I will have that family of my own. And my hope and prayer is that I never forget what it was like to be single and lonely around the holidays.
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
Thank you for sharing an insight so many of us overlook! We get so busy (I do, anyway) it’s easy to be focused on OUR/MY immediate family. Your words are prompting me to be intentional, to pray about and look for those who need to be loved.
Already one is coming to mind….
LeighAnne Hallac says
Thank you….from the depths of my heart…for taking the time to hit the nail on the head with a topic that goes unnoticed by the majority of our society. Especially this time of the year. I read yours (and all the Incourag-ing blogs) each day but rarely have time to finish reading all of them, much less have time to respond. But this one pierced me to the core…laying my heart bare…allowing Christ to reshape and ridding it of the coldness that has resonated as a result of trying to get through this season in my own strength. A season that is based purely on the LOVE of GOD…and I’ve allowed myself to become detached from appreciating the gift of love….probably as a defense to avoid the sting of seeing so many couples and families lovingly exchanging the warmth and fellowship that single parents often are unable to provide….yet yearn so deeply for. I wouldn’t have understood the dark lonely season myself except, much like you described, I’ve been led to a season of adjusting to an unexpected life as a single mother to four young children…being thrown into the working world after 12 years of being “mom”….while balancing college for myself with the rigors of school for my children. And as if that adjustment isn’t hard enough, experiencing it during a time of the year that magnifies loving couples and families all around me. I’ve always been very focused on Christ in all seasons, but this one has been intensely hard as my children look to me to provide a Christmas like all others where gifts flow on Christmas morning just as the milk and honey flowed in the Promised land. Too young to possibly understand that the fact that I was able to pay our electric bill this morning just hours before it was to be shut off…is a gift in and of itself. This is not a season about gifts and presents…but it is a season about giving and as my heart aches from still not knowing how to provide gifts for my kids in just three days, I am reminded by real and genuine people like yourself….that I have all I NEED in order to GIVE my children the simplicity and magic of this season. Giving them the traditions and lessons behind the purpose of Christmas is a gift that will be given year after year as the memories get shared and hopefully passed down to future generations. You don’t need money for those kinds of gifts….you just need a deep passion for the Lord and all that He has provided for us as His people despite our feeble attempts to live in this world without Him. From that passion, derives the love that embraces families together during this season…whether they have two parents…or just one. I think a lot of families go through this season without such a gift…they go through the motions and tear through a plethora of gifts on Christmas morning…but they lack the passion for Christ that keeps the purpose of His birth at the center of their season. I’d rather have that passion and reverent love for the birth of God’s son….than a tree filled with gifts….because in the end, it’s that passion for Him that will last through generations. I had totally lost sight of this up until this morning when I read your blog…and to be honest…it stung pretty bad realizing how removed I had allowed my fear and resentment to take me from the real meaning of this holiday. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share your experience…there are many of us who are unable to respond but ARE reading…and are impacted by that kind of honesty. Our experiences, no matter how painful…will always touch another life when you least expect it. I pray that one day my solitude as a single mom will have an impact on another mother freshly struggling with adjusting to a new way of life…and will provide the hope that your sharing has provided for me this morning. THank you!!
Wow. What a beautiful reflection of giving. Talk about warm your heart.
Jeannie, my divorce was final December 1. It has been a long road and a year ago I would never have thought I would ever walk down it. I am so thankful that I will be spending this Christmas with my 3 year-old daughter and my loving, supportive, extended family. My heart breaks in a billion pieces (since it is already in a million) every time I go to church and see the families sitting together and have to explain to my daughter that her dad will not be there. This season of brokenness will be healed and my Savior is faithful and will never leave me even though my human husband did. There are so many hurting hearts in churches and grocery stores and malls and parties. They may be obvious with their tears or they may be hidden with smiles. Praise Jesus that He came to “bind up the brokenhearted.”
Beautiful–thank you for sharing!
I remember a long while back being kinda grumpy when I was out shopping and God letting me know later that I had missed an opportunity that He had for me because of my selfish little tantrum.
So grateful I am for the Holy Spirit who reminds me whenever I’m out-n-about.
I went to our Post Office Monday which is notorious for the crabby, slow, lady-in-charge. I purposefully tried to make small talk, smile, laugh, crack a joke or 2 while she helped me. Nothing broke the scowl on her face. Went to my car and found some keys on the ground. Brought them in and as I handed them to her–she looked at me with moist eyes and said, “I am so glad you came back in. I appreciate your kindness to me today. I am never kind. So no one is ever nice to me. Thank you!”
WOW!–God truly does work in mysterious, and often very simple, ways!
I wish you a very Merry Christmas as well!
What a beautiful reminder! Thank you Jeannie; and, may God Bless your Christmas.
This is a great call to actively look for others to help. That verse from Hebrews is perfect for this post.
What a precious story. I love it when Christ becomes visible. 🙂
My heart has been moved the same way this Christmas. Last year I met a precious friend, who’s story is not mine to share, but I knew she would be alone this Christmas. To make a long story short, I provided the funds for her airline ticket and she arrived here on December 15th and is staying with my family until the 27th. I pray that I am ministering to her…because honestly…I feel I am the one on the receiving end of more blessings than I can fathom.
Our family welcomed a single woman into the fold of our family Christmas this year. She’s spending 17 beautiful days with us, being loved on, celebrated, cherished, and INCLUDED in all that we do… it may not take away all the sting of loneliness, but I pray it will make a difference, just as she’s made a difference in our lives.
I wanted to let you know how your article touched me. I guess hit would be a better word than touched. My husband left me with two small children. I did not have any family. Christmas was a very difficult time of year. I thought all of the pain had been stored away until I read your article. I burst into tears when I came to the part that said “I had been abandoned by the man I loved.” I think I had been storing the pain under anger and never really realized how much I had been hurt and “abandoned.”
My children are now grown and I have two grandchildren that live close to us. I have been married to a wonderful man for 20 years.
The pain is still there and will probably never go away.
Beverly @ The Buzz says
What a lovely story. My husband likes to do things like this and you just helped me fall a little more in love with him.