Last week I shared Steve’s encounter with a good samaritan. Let me share another experience.
A couple weeks back, when we were out of town over Memorial Day weekend we attended another ward for church. We took several rows for Steve’s family and trying to keep our kids quiet with their cousins sitting next to them was a little difficult. I noticed a lady in the row across from us. She too had four rowdy boys with a little girl and she appeared to be pregnant. She was sitting alone.
As I glanced her direction I could see it in her face, she was struggling. I could see it because it was all too familiar to me. That has been me for several years as I sat alone and Steve sat on the stand. I didn’t want her to see me watching her, so I turned my gaze forward and would periodically glance her way. After 15 minutes of watching her, I finally whispered to Steve, “I think the lady over there is having a hard time.” He glanced over her direction as casually as he could and observed the same thing I had.
“Well, go over and help her then.”
I was paralyzed. Yes, I could feel her pain, but I didn’t know what I could do for her. We were in the middle of a speaker. Besides, I looked at the clock and realized I needed to feed Briggs shortly. So I stayed put.
I sat for a few more minutes, glancing in her direction, hoping her situation and demeanor would magically change. Steve noticed my glances. “Just go sit with her and help her with her kids.”
“She’ll think I’m crazy. I don’t want to embarrass her.”
“She’ll appreciate the help, just like you always appreciated help.”
I pretty much talked myself out of it. Until the speaker sat down and several men from the congregation stood to walk up and sing. I had butterflies in my stomach as I quickly stood up with the men and stepped across the aisle and shimmied into the small section left on her bench. “I have been in this same situation many times. Can I help you?”
With a sigh of relief shaking her head she said yes. I reached for the baby that was in her arms and she willingly handed him over. Instantly, the rowdy boys suddenly were calm as they eyed me up and down wondering why I crashed their party! There was no more wrestling or jumping. They sat still as can be as close to their mother as possible. The little girl cozied up to me and drew me a picture and the baby was okay with a stranger holding him.
After a while, my sister-in-law turned to give Briggs back to me to feed when she noticed I wasn’t there. I leaned towards the mother and apologized that I needed to leave to feed my baby. I grabbed Briggs and headed out and I as I walked out I could see my sister-in-law taking my seat with the young family.
After the meeting was over, I walked in from feeding and found Steve talking with my new friend. I learned that her husband’s job takes him away over half the time on Sundays. She had a faith building experience in which she realized the blessings that result in attending church so she faithfully brings her 5 (soon to be 6) kids every Sunday. It’s hard and tiring. Most the time she’s wondering why she does it. I could empathize with her on so many levels. I’ve been that mom on Sunday mornings sitting in the pew alone fighting back tears of frustration, wondering why being there even matters. But I knew it was important and I so I struggled.
I enjoyed talking with the mother. She expressed her gratitude, we hugged and said goodbye.
The crazy thing is I almost didn’t help her, in church of all places! The same place that teaches us to look out for and care for others. Partly because I was uncomfortable and partly because I in no way wanted to make her uncomfortable. We often look at situations and think – that’s too bad, but really what I can do about it. Those words went through my mind as I watched her. But Steve’s counsel was inspired. “Help her with her kids.” It was simple. It didn’t take much effort, just a little courage to step out of my comfort zone. It made me realize people are more willing to accept help than we might think.
It was a good reminder to not only notice people in need but to extend a helping hand. What can you do to help someone today?