All I did was ask for half caff.
Our waitress glanced toward the kitchen miserably, like I’d just added an hour’s worth of work to her day.
I looked around at the spattering of others in the restaurant (hardly a rush); then, when she walked away, I leaned across the table and whispered to my friend, “She’s a grump.”
Maybe. But this was also an opportunity for me, and I missed it.
Two days later I was back at the same restaurant with my daughter. I scanned the room as the hostess seated us in a different section, certain we’d have a more amiable waitress.
A moment later, Ms. Grumpy stood over us. “Coffee?”
“Just water, thanks,” I said. Bullet dodged.
She left our menus and headed to the kitchen. A minute later, I heard the phone ring. Not my phone, her phone. She was headed toward us but stopped, put down the water on the service counter, and answered.
“Wow,” I thought, “Grumpy and she takes personal calls while she’s working.” Now I was getting grumpy. And thirsty.
“When will I be able to talk to him?” she asked, sounding worried now. She listened, eyes down. “But he’s okay, right? They said he was shot in the arm. So why is he in critical condition?”
As the conversation continued, it wasn’t difficult to piece together what was happening. Up until a couple days ago, her son had been in Afghanistan. There’d been a firefight. He was wounded. Now he was in Germany, just out of surgery.
It also became clear that not only had our waitress been unable to talk with him, she wasn’t getting the full story about his condition.
She tried but couldn’t hold back her tears.
I’d missed an opportunity. She wasn’t Ms. Grumpy. She was a mom worried to death about her boy.
Let me rewind for a moment. You know who the “friend” was I’d whispered to two days earlier? My mom, in for a visit from Colorado. You think maybe that tapped into something for our waitress?
Here’s the truth: You and I can’t see accurately. On our own, we can only see objects (things that bring us pleasure) or obstacles (things that get in the way of our pleasure).
Not so for Jesus. He always sees people—men, women, moms, dads, sons, daughters. I don’t know about you, but I want to see more like he does.
Jesus, I’m addicted to viewing people for what they can or can’t do for me. Through my attitudes, words, and actions, I’ve missed opportunities you’ve given me to love. This day, would you open my eyes to see what you see?
Question: Do you have a story of a time you failed to see a person, and only later realized you missed an opportunity to love? Or do you have a story when somehow God opened your eyes to see, and it made all the difference? Leave a comment below.
P.S. Guess what T-shirt I happened to be wearing during the 2nd breakfast?
Josh, thanks for your most recent post. I am a mother who has an older son in the Air Force who has been to dangerous places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Germany, and South Korea. Fortunately, our Blessed Controller has kept Eric safe in all his travels so far over his 13 years of service, and we have never received such heart-shaking news that our loved one has been injured. As a parent you want to be there in person for your child, yet you are separated by the miles and can only communicate through electronic devices.
Yes, I, too, want to see others as Jesus sees them and not presume in my mind that I know what is happening because I don’t even know their situation or anything about them. I recently came across this reminder:
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” ― Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart
Also, I think about the lyrics in the chorus to Brandon Heath’s song “Give Me Your Eyes.”
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the brokenhearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
I love how God uses you in teachable moments to share thought provoking words with others. Be blessed and have a great weekend.
I had this happen to me when I did junior high youth ministry many years ago. There was this tough girl in the group–all black clothes, chain necklaces, combat boots, different hair color each week..you get the picture. Well, I had my opinions. But when I offered to the group an opportunity to go to a soup kitchen once a week at 5:30 am, with me, she was the first to step up. Many weeks, she was the only one to show, and she did week after week. I was blown away by her confidence as she worked in the kitchen preparing food. We ended up developing a good friendship, and several mornings I have to admit I would drop her off a few minutes late to school so we could grab breakfast after the soup kitchen.
Thanks for the reminder.