I was walking past the graham crackers in Byerly’s grocery store when the elderly woman in the blue wool coat pushing a grocery cart rushed up to me.
“Where are the paper towels?”
Her sense of urgency really caught my attention. It came through her voice and her eyes. Panic. Anxiety. Lots of it.
“My husband had an ‘accident.’ He’s sitting in the car. He’s so embarrassed. We’re on our way to a quartet reunion and they’re waiting for us.”
Oh my. Can’t you just imagine all the emotions her trembling heart was experiencing in those moments? I just wanted to hug her and make everything better.
But there wasn’t time for hugging. We needed supplies.
I grabbed her hand and the cart. “Follow me!”
Two aisles over, I pointed her in the direction of the baby wipes while I dashed to get baggies and paper towels.
We quickly gathered what she needed and then she stopped and looked at me.
She gave me a hug.
While her tears came, she whispered, “Aren’t Minnesota people just the best? So willing to be helpful and kind.”
And then she scuttled to the check-out lane.
And I stood in front of the paper towels and cried.
For hours after that, I kept thinking about … Dignity.
What it’s like when you want it, but circumstances bump up against it.
It’s easy for us, I think, to consider Dignity when we encounter someone older. Or who needs significant help. Or someone more vulnerable.
But you know? (I think you do …)
It’s something every single one of us wants.
In our work cubes. In the restaurants. In the check-out lines. In the church pews.
The customer service rep on the other end of the line who does not seem helpful.
Someone we love who disappoints us and stinging words seem like the appropriate response.
Inside we fight to know that we matter … All. The. Time.
We want someone who helps us hold our head up. Rather than making us lower it in shame.
We want someone who listens with their heart. Rather than blowing us off.
Let’s not miss one single opportunity to remind someone that their life is valuable.
Who around you needs a little chin lift today?
Watch for that moment.
And then share a good word.
Bring the encouragement.
Make a difference.