Last month, my daughter created a touching moment that nearly melted my heart.
This month’s post shows the unexpected impact a simple gesture can make and the joy and friendship that can grow from it.
I’ve gathered my things off the pew, chatted with multiple friends and acquaintances, and am heading toward the door of the church building on a Sunday evening. As I turn a corner, I see a sweet friend of mine standing by herself in the foyer (for the retelling of this story, let’s call her Beth).
Beth is a fun lady to talk to. She is such a kind soul, but also quite a character! Blunt as a butter knife, she will usually tell you exactly how she feels about any given topic of discussion.
Knowing several people had agreed to go out to dinner after worship, I wondered if I should invite her to go with us.
“There’s probably no point in asking her,” I think as I approach her. “I don’t ever see her going out to eat. She’ll probably be embarrassed when she says ‘no’ because we both know why she can’t go.”
We’d previously had lengthy discussions about ways to stretch grocery dollars and make cheap, nutritious meals at home. One Sunday morning, she had told me that she would not be back for evening service. When I showed curiosity about it, she explained it was because her car was nearly out of gas, and she did not have any money to fill up the tank. To put it simply, she lives on a very tight budget.
I decide to ask her to dinner anyway, at least just to show her that I care about her and enjoy spending time with her. To my surprise, she thinks for a brief moment before responding, “I’d love to go.”
We converse for a while until everyone is ushered out the door by a pair of “starving” girls, and then we head off to the restaurant.
We are all soon seated around an L-shaped set of tables, with drinks in hand and food ordered, before either girl has enough time to collapse from hunger! 😉 We form a motley little group: several teens of various ages and interests (military, singing, professional target-shooting, etc.), several adults (big-game hunter, editor, homeschool mom, etc.), and our somewhat-older friend Beth.
The food is good, and so is the conversation, which varies over multiple subjects. The restaurant is crowded and noisy, especially when part of the staff comes out clapping and singing to a customer for their birthday. We enjoy sharing stories and laughs long after the food is gone from our plates.
After watching the girls devour a “molten chocolate cake,” Beth places her hands on the table, leans forward, and with a slightly-raised voice announces:
“You know what? Now that the meal is over, I want to tell you all something…Last week was my birthday.” I laugh, knowing that she waited until now to announce this so we wouldn’t embarrass her by asking the waiters to sing to her.
“Well,” she continues, “this evening is like a present to me. It gets lonely living by myself, and I am really having a great time with you guys tonight! Thank you for inviting me!”
“How sweet and straightforward,” I think. “We should share feelings of appreciation like this with people more often!”
We all tell her how glad we are that she joined us and how we need to spend more time together, and she reiterates how special this meal is to her. I feel the warmth of loving friendship as she looks into my eyes and smiles.
I’m amazed at times how a gesture that seems small to one person can make a big impact on someone else.
When we all finally push back from the table and go our separate ways, my family drives home with happy bellies full of food and a happy hearts full of thankfulness. What a great way to end a great day!