I was one pound down since my check in two days ago. I told the nutritionist working that day goodbye through mumbled breath and she looked me in the eye and said, “I hope your day gets better.”
“Thank you,” I breathed and rushed as the waterworks I’d become accustomed to started. I ran to my car and at the same time noticed a car pulling up beside me. I was in full on sobs that would not be stopping anytime soon.
“Tap, tap, tap,” I heard on the car window.
I looked up and opened the door to see an older woman I had never seen before.
“Yes….I’m sorry,” I sobbed through tears.
“Are you okay?”
I felt my heart drop into my stomach, “I’m just having a bad day,” I continued to cry.
“Can I pray with you?”
This stranger grabbed my hands and proceeded to pray as tears flowed out of my eyes.
“Thank you,” I said when she finished.
“I don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t need to know, but I hope it gets better. Sometimes we need a good cry.”
And like that she told me goodbye and walked inside.
I haven’t talked much (if at all) about religion on the blog. Not that I don’t have beliefs, but I just have my personal issues with organized religion and have made the decision to separate that part of my life from this one.
I’ve been having a rough time lately with my anxiety, and on that particular day, I was just counting down the hours till I could be in the safety of the office of my new therapist. I knew if I could make it through the first 12 hours of the day to that 8 p.m. appointment I would be okay. Ultimately the universe had other plans and I became undone in that shopping center parking lot.
This chance encounter got me thinking about lots of things.
Why did I apologize?
I was having a private moment in my car (albeit in a public place) and she was technically interrupting it but I apologized.
I was apologizing for my humanity, for having a moment of weakness when I allowed the private me to be seen in the domain the public me usually rules. The world where I smile while I’m collapsing on the inside. The me that puts other people’s needs above my own. The me who doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my problems or emotions.
I realize I had no reason to apologize and that this kind stranger probably wasn’t expecting it.
The kindness of this stranger.
So often we are all in a rush and in our own heads. I know I am, if I’m in a public place, my head is probably turned down looking my phone or a book. I’m not proud to say that if the roles were reversed, I would have noticed someone sobbing in the car next to mine and even if I did if I would have felt comfortable asking if they were okay. I would have probably checked my phone to see how much time was left on my lunch break, in fear stopping to check on a stranger might make me late. Horrible to admit but true. I am positive I wouldn’t have thought to offer to pray for them. This interaction made me want to be more aware of the world around me and the pain of others.
The boldness of her belief.
We live in a country right now where we all value our freedom of speech but are just as quick to browbeat someone who has different beliefs or thoughts than us. That being said, even with the best intentions it can be scary to reach out.
For all, she knew I was an atheist or would get angry or even violent by her offer of prayer. This fear didn’t stop her from offering and trying to make me feel better. I respect her so much for that.
It made me want to be bolder in what I believe and not just in a religious or spiritual sense. They say the road to hell is pathed with good intentions but so is the road to hope and happiness. If you are genuinely trying to help someone I have to believe the universe has a way of putting this in the win column.
So to the woman who stopped and prayed with me, thank you for your kind words, your time, your prayer and your inspiration.
To anyone reading this, if you feel low or down there is help out there. Seriously, you don’t have to wait for a kind stranger to catch you having a dark moment. More and more insurance plans are covering mental health care and if you aren’t covered by insurance there are options including 7 Cups of Tea and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You are not alone!