Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Worse Than Horrible

"That'll be forty-four dollars and ninety cents," she told me.

For a partial tank of gas. For a little bitty car.

I wrote the check, forcing my pen hand to write an amount that made me nauseous.

The young woman sighed, then said, "Don't mind me. I'm having a really bad day."

I looked up from my check into her face. Dark circles under her eyes. Pain in them. She wanted me to ask. I could tell.

"A bad day, huh?"

"Yeah," she said.

Now, here, I fully expected this twenty-something convenience store clerk to answer with, "Yeah, me and my girlfriend were supposed to go to the mall but then she couldn't because her dad said she had to get off her butt and go get a job and I said you can have mine and then he thought we were being lippy so he cut off her allowance and that meant I didn't have any money because she was gonna pay for everything, even manicures with those little diamond things on our pinkies."

That's not what she said.

"Yeah, my boyfriend just got sent to jail for killing our son. And since he hasn't been working, today I got an eviction notice and tomorrow is my other son's birthday and I don't have anything for him or money to get it..."

Another customer came onto the scene about then. The clerk stopped talking and processed my check.

I hope my jaw wasn't really hanging open. The jaw of my spirit was.

When she handed me my receipt, all I could think to say was, "I hope you start seeing some answers soon."

"Me, too."

I left the building thinking, "Lord, this is worse than horrible."

I got in my car and pulled away from the pumps onto the highway of my ordinary life. But I can't shake the contagion of the pain she bore. And I can't shake the remorse that I wasn't able to comfort her. The circumstances wouldn't allow me to help connect her with Jesus...even if I could have thought of worse-than-horrible-busting words.

Lord, did she just need someone to listen to her story? And a sympathetic face?

I'll bet she didn't know she was recruiting a stranger to pray for her.

I think I might need more gas tomorrow.


Megan DiMaria said...

Oh, I'll start praying for that dear girl.

Give us updates, if you have them, Cynthia.

A prisoner of hope,

Tracy Ruckman said...

We're praying, too.

Eileen said...

Let us know the outcome of this sad saga. I know God put you in that particular setting to use!

Jenny Rough said...

The power of prayer...who know what will happen.

P.S. Love the phrase "the jaw of my spirit."

Cathy Messecar said...

Cynthia, I, too, have had those moments when you can tell that someone wants you to ask.

At different times, I've offered to pray, or written my phone number down and told them I'm a good listener, or invited them to church, or since I carry copies of my devo book in my car, I'll run out and get one and give to them. The giving away of the books is my tithe to God, and I always listen and act when he prompts the gift.

God wanted her burden laid on your heart. He chose a wise listener. Thanks for sharing. I will be praying...Cathy

Sally Bradley said...

Yes, let us know!