Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tonight At Trader Joe's

Tonight I ran to Trader Joe's to pick up a cheap bottle of wine and some fig butter (thanks Corinna for the recommendation!). As I walked into the store I noticed a woman and child across the parking lot holding a sign that said "I don't have a job. I need food for my two children. Please help." I wanted to do something for her but I was in a hurry so I went ahead and bought my groceries and ran back out the door. On my way out I gave the woman the money I had in my wallet, which wasn't much, and was glad I was able to help in some small way.

As I drove off, that small joy I felt vanished as I thought about a hundred other ways I could have helped that little family. I should have bought her a bag of groceries. I don't know if she has access to an oven or microwave, but I could have bought bread and cheese and bottled water. I should have asked if they were cold. I should have given her the warm gloves I had in my pocket and given my scarf to the little girl. I should have bought a hot chocolate from the bookstore next door to warm her little children. I was in a hurry, but I could have spared some time to talk to her, ask her what she really needs. I should have asked her how I can pray for her. I should have given her the coat off my back.

I could have done more to help her, but I was too caught up in my own little agenda. I was worried about my own family at home waiting for their dinner. Ray and I have never had a lot, and money is especially tight now that I am working part time, but we have enough. I worry about Christmas presents and paying for flights home to Georgia for the holidays, but we have food on our table every night and warm beds to sleep in. We have what we need. There I was buying fig butter and wine while a small family was begging for food just a few feet away.

I haven't been able to let go of the image in my mind of that woman and her child, brought low and asking for help. Or the look on her face when I offered what little help I could. I pray for that family, that they will be blessed in the coming days and weeks. That God will pour out his blessings on them, and that their basic needs will be met. I pray for the mother, that she won't have to worry any more about how she's going to feed her babies each day. And I pray for her children, that when they're older they remember their mother as she was tonight, sacrificing her pride to feed her children.

I can't imagine what it must be like to want for food and water, for shelter and warmth. I hope that I'll always remember that little family and that I will always be grateful for the ways that God provides for me and my family. And I hope that next time I'm given the opportunity to help someone in need, I will do better. Please Jesus, make me better.


  1. a beautiful reminder to do more for others in need and to appreciate the blessings in our own lives. thanks for the honest sharing of this tale

    1. Thanks for reading Lucinda! I've taken to carrying an extra warm blanket and an extra pair of gloves in the car with me in case this happens again! Merry Christmas!

  2. This was beautifully written. I appreciated the line "...fig butter and wine while a small family was begging..." because I often have those haunting images in my own mind as I drive in my warm car, watching people walking down the free way... begging, cold. Why has God given me so much? Surely, he doesn't love me any more. Why am I so blessed? And what can I do? Where is the line between excess and just enough? This post was a good reminder to commit those questions to prayer more regularly. And to pray for more discernment in these areas. You've blessed me tonight, so thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It's lovely to know that my post has blessed you in some small way!
      I loved what you said- that we should "commit these questions to prayer". That's exactly right- I felt like I'd failed that family, and so the best thing I can do for them is pray, and pray about how I can best serve people I meet in the future.



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