I caught her eyes several times during the service. She struggled to listen as she was surrounded by her four children and the activity that invariably ensues when two or more children are in close proximity. The chapel is simply the dining area with most of the tables removed and only chairs in their place. She sat at the back with the other mothers of busy children, concerned that they were a distraction but longing to hear anything that might expose a glimmer of hope.
Their faces are like open doors giving a glimpse into their hearts. I can see some are simply there because it is a place to rest in the air conditioning, a break from the routines of responsibilities they don’t want to do in a place they don’t want to be. They are disinterestedly polite. Some smile and nod in agreement as my words confirm what they already know. Others are so tired from the physical and emotional demands of the day that they nod in a different fashion. Anger and frustration burn in the eyes of a few as there is no longer a pretense that they are fine even when they come to church. Especially when they come to church.
She was the farthest from me but it’s as if I can see in her face a silent plea. “I’m hungry! Feed me something that will last until tomorrow! Give me more than empty platitudes and churchy phrases! Please make it real.” Across the room expressions without words reveal she is not alone in her desire.
Does she know that I see her? Does she see in my eyes that she matters? As I look from face to face I pray that the women who sit before me know they are seen. I haven’t walked in their shoes on the paths they have traveled, but I see these, my fellow Egypt-wanderers. I have no stones to throw. We’ve traveled paths we never planned and feared we would never find our way home. We’ve found our feet unable to move through the muck and mire of our own selfish choices. We’ve fallen under the burden of someone else’s choices. We’ve choked in the grips of trouble, desperate to believe there is more than this. More to life than the struggle. More to church than a list of do’s and don’ts and the fear of going to hell. More to God than children’s stories and greeting card verses.
Can she hear me? Can she fathom the depths of the Love offered her this night? Can she imagine a life of freedom purchased through Grace where no condemnation speaks? Can she believe the stirring in her soul is His voice compelling her to come to Him just as she is, loved and accepted? Can she find the Hope that is her future?
I watch as she walks toward me. She is tall and beautiful and tired and ready. Ready to reach out to a stranger who has not walked in her shoes but will take her hand and perhaps point her toward the way out of Egypt. We pray and hug. She takes a bible. There is so much I want to say but there is no time. We smile and say goodbye. We will probably never meet again.
God, take me to a place in prayer for her where there is no hint of opinion or judgement, no arrogance that thinks I know what she needs, no pride that considers myself any different as you have delivered me out of my own Egypt-wandering. Remind me as I pray that I haven’t walked in her shoes.
I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
“In her shoes” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com
Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.