If there’s one thing I’m learning this deployment, it’s the art of humility. Asking for help is big and scary, and accepting that you need it is even more terrifying. I’ve never been one to openly admit my weaknesses or shortcomings, and we’ll just say that it’s because I definitely fall prey to the sin of pride. As the days of this deployment keep ticking and I get more and more exhausted though, I find myself taking a knee and accepting help wherever – and whenever – I can get it. That, my friends, is how I found Jesus at Chick-fil-A this weekend.
I know. It sounds blasphemous, but let me explain. I entered the weekend exhausted and run down. Constantly going a mile a minute, working full-time, and keeping a household, I find that I rarely have a second to step back and breathe (beyond my running). So, when we went to our normal swim lessons this weekend, I found I was already on an uneven footing.
Enter potty-training. Porter’s decided he’s finally ready, and it’s going swimmingly (pun intended). However, it raises new challenges; like wearing a baby, taking a toddler to the bathroom in a wet swimsuit and trying to figure out how to help him get that swimsuit back up without smushing the baby. That was the first time this weekend that I asked a random stranger for help. I asked if she wouldn’t mind holding Mieke while I quickly helped Porter pull his suit back up. Her face lit up, as she remarked that it’d been far too long since she’d held an infant. It was grace, pure and simple.
When we finally made it to Chick-fil-A, I can only imagine the scene we made when we entered; an exhausted mama, a full car seat, two little boys excited to play. Trying to pull out my wallet, order food, answer questions and pay, my heart racing a million miles a minute, lest people see me struggling and pity me. The cashier smiled and remarked that my husband must have been really good to get off daddy duty. I just laughed and replied that he’s deployed, and he’ll get his turn.
Chick-fil-A is my breathing room. The boys can play in the play place, I find a quiet nook in the back and nurse Mieke, and I eat a meal knowing my children are playing contentedly. This time, however, a gentleman walked up with his own baby and put something in my hand, saying simply, “You’re doing great. I want to thank your husband – and you – for your service.” He walked away before I could do more than smile and say thanks, but when I looked down, I saw he put a $25 gift card to Chick-fil-A in my hand. One gesture of unassumed kindness and I was in tears. I caught their eye before they left and mouthed “thank you,” and they just smiled and went on their way.
So, yes. I found Jesus at Chick-fil-A. He’s in the little things. He’s in the smiles of unassuming strangers. He’s in the heart of gracious employees more than willing to lend a hand. He’s in the gentle voice reminding me to simply accept and allow others to serve. I was reminded of that with every little moment. In the midst of being overwhelmed, graciousness ensued, as did genuine goodness. I asked for help a second time from a woman who asked, “how can I help?” And I went to the bathroom in peace. Here’s the thing…
People genuinely want to help. As much as it is for me, it’s a joy for them, and seeing their faces light up when I accept it just doubles that feeling of relief and joy. Sometimes people don’t know how to offer help. Sometimes I don’t know how to accept help, but these little things, these gestures of kindness…they remind me that I’m not alone in this. I may not know them all, but there’s an army of wonderful people ready and waiting to help a struggling mama – whether she knows she needs it or not – and that’s how I found Jesus at Chick-fil-A.