Have you ever had a conversation with a total stranger and later realize that person must have been sent by God?
That’s what happened to me the other day. I was pushing my shopping cart filled to the brim with children and food through the store. I was overwhelmed with my shopping list and my boisterous little boys, and wasn’t really paying attention to anything else around us. As we headed down the aisle, an elderly gentleman approached us. He saw my kids and said he couldn’t resist coming over to talk to us. He carried on about how cute they were and asked them several questions. Thankfully, they were cooperative and answered his questions. After chatting with us briefly, he went on his way.
A little while later, he made a beeline back to us.
He looked straight at me and said, “I want to tell you something.” He then began a story about when his son was five years old. His son had asked him to build a birdhouse. He told him no because he was really busy with “important” things for work.
He watched his disappointed five-year-old slump off without crying or making a scene, and suddenly he felt terrible for breaking his son’s heart. He called his son back to him. Together they went to the store to buy the materials and they built the birdhouse.
To make a long story short (he said), 40 years later, he can’t remember anything about the work he was doing or what made it so important.
Then, he looked me in the eyes and said, “But we still have that birdhouse.”
My eyes immediately flooded with tears. Even though I’m with my kids for the majority of our days, I don’t always devote myself fully to them. I halfheartedly do activities with them. I fuss at them. I get overwhelmed by their littleness. I get distracted by chores and my to-do list and my phone. I am often too busy doing “important” work that I often forget what’s truly most important in life.
This man may never know just how much he stopped me in my tracks, helped me adjust my priorities, and inspired me to slow down and be more intentional with my family. We may not ever build a birdhouse, but that man encouraged me to say yes to more of my children’s requests, especially ones where we would be together while doing something meaningful.
God puts people in our path to help show us the way. The next time a stranger comes to you with something to say, be open to the message. It might change your life!
Copyright 2019 Leanne Willen