Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A coffee, cafe, and some conversation

The other day I was at the local cafe just sitting and relaxing, drinking some coffee and doing some reading. After about ten minutes, I noticed a middle aged woman coming into the cafe with a mentally challenged man who seemed to be in his late thirties.

I observed the woman and the man and noticed that she kept her attention on her companion most of the time. The middle aged lady went to the cafe bar and got her companion a doughnut and something to drink. After ten to fifteen minutes the women left the young man at his table, and as I observed he was really going to town on his doughnut, and from time to time he would let out a bellow or two, and have some radical tics, but he seemed fine sitting at the table on his own.

Anyway, the lady comes and sits in a chair right next to me, she positions herself so that she can keep an eye on the man that she came in with.

Out of curiosity, I asked the lady what relationship she has with the young man, to which she replied, " I work for a group home and I bring Brian out into the public so that he can acclimate himself to the public environment." This lady tells me that Brian is mentally challenged and that he also has autism.

So, I decided to really be intentional and allow this lady to "speak her story," and to be honest, I was really blown away at some of the things she related to me in our forty-five minute conversation.

She told me of her struggles being a single mom, without any support from family or friends---she noted to me that she would wake up in the mornings and on many occasions look out her window to make sure her car was still in the driveway---she told me there were times she could not pay her utility bills---she said there were times she did not know where her  next meal was coming from.

She went on to say that after she drops Brian off  at the group home, she would pick up her mentally disabled foster child from the group home, and it would start all over again.

I felt compelled to share with this lady the hope that I have inside of me---so I asked her permission if I could share "my hope" with her, and she gave me permission, and for the next fifteen minutes, I shared with her the hope of the Gospel.

She responded positively to the message, telling me she knows about Jesus from her Christian up-bringing. She noted that she tried going to different Churches; and this next dialog breaks my heart, but she sighed, and said," I've found the churches to be judgmental, cliquish, and  I felt marginalized being a single mom, while most of the people in the church were married and had family." Oh, what a horrible indictment on the Church; now to note, there are local Churches that make it their mission to be relational and inclusive and share the love of God with all who come into their faith community, but sad to say this lady never found this kind of warm and inviting community of believers.

Let me digress for a second, when this lady was sharing with me her hurts, pains, and struggles, I kept thinking how blessed I'm---having four great children, a beautiful wife, two fantastic grandchildren, no real money problems, friends, and good health, and I know the God who created me and the universe.

It really hit me that this lady is alone in her struggles and with her pain. At one point in the conversation, I asked her if she ever gets out to do dinner and a movie---she said,"are you kidding me, I would just so appreciate sipping a hot cup of coffee without distraction." And I thought of all the little things that I have and do that I just take for granted, I told this woman that after hearing her  story,  I'll double-up on my efforts to be thankful to God for all His blessings in my life. 

As the lady was getting ready to leave the cafe, I told her it was a pleasure listening to her story, she replied," the next time your wife gives you a cup of coffee be thankful." And that is advice that I'll take to heart.

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