The Fruit of the Spirit in Unlikely Places
When the fruit of the spirit shows up when you most need it, it kind of makes you want to offer it more, too.
Have you ever been inside a store and heard a baby or a child crying, seemingly completely losing their mind? Of course you have – I know I have! And I often wonder…if your child can’t behave, why don’t you simply take them out of the store? Choose to shop another day. So simple. So easy.
And it was that simple and easy. Until I was that mom with that baby crying her eyes out.
The Judgment Feels Real
Normally, I am a super-organized person. I have my moments, but generally, I’ve got at least most of my ducks in a row. On this particular day, I had my three youngest kids with me in Target – my husband had dropped us off before surrendering the car for a tire rotation a few blocks away. This day, my mom-centric organizational skills deserting me spectacularly, I had failed to make sure I had extra diapers, a spare outfit, and infant Tylenol, all of which I happened to find out when my six-month-old daughter decided to not only have one of those blow-out diapers but also determined that this was a perfect moment to start teething. Again. Hard.
I came walking out of the restroom with a screaming babywearing no pants and no socks. I could feel the hot stares of other customers on my back, my wailing, disheveled, partially clothed little one interrupting their shopping as I trudged past them, my nine-year-old pushing the shopping cart and my four-year-old son trailing behind us. At that moment, I was the epitome of a hot mess and the judgment was real.
Among my surprisingly vivid (given that it happened nearly two years ago), rather humiliating self-conscious memories of that day, though, the moment I remember more clearly and meaningfully than any other was this one. Around the corner of the baby medicine aisle came this woman with a kind face and tender voice saying she had heard the tone of the cry my baby was making and wanted to see if there was any way she could help. She could tell from the sound of my daughter’s cry that this was not just a tantrum, this was a baby upset from feeling cold and distraught from achy gums.
No judgment. No side-eye. Not even pity. Just simple compassion for me as a mother with three kids in a situation that had suddenly, unexpectedly become more complicated than I was prepared for.
“The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.”
This woman’s small kindness was one I had never thought to do for another mom. She approached me with compassion and made it her to mission to help me out in a trying moment. She located the medicine I was looking for, took that annoying childproof wrapping off of it, and measured out the right amount for me so I could give it to my daughter.
And then she gave me a smile, said I was doing a beautiful job and walked away. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her.
More Compassion Toward Moms
To this day, I’m challenged by this woman and her compassion and grace. Instead of getting annoyed by the sound of a crying baby, she offered to help.
What if we did more of that?
What if we offered compassion to moms in the grocery store trying to get their shopping done with a tired child? We could extend a bit more grace as we waited for that parking spot – you know, the one with the family with the strollers that need to be folded up and the parent trying to buckle their kid in the car seat? I guarantee that family is hustling so you don’t have to wait very long…but maybe they have a toddler like I do who is bent on buckling herself in!
A friendly smile and a wave, an indicator that they don’t need to rush on your account, would go a long way in a parent’s day, as so many of us can attest. Don’t underestimate the power of the fruit of the spirit.
So little effort from us. So much impact to the recipient. One more little way to let them see Jesus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Chels, Catz in the Kitchen