*disclaimer: I received permission before including any of the following stories for this post.
80% of our interactions are accidental. I should rephrase that. We didn’t plan on seeing each other, but God always had our “accidents” written in His planner.
Monday morning I felt like a metal ball in a never-ending pinball game, bouncing from need to need. The crazy wave never seemed to die down. When the sitter arrived I announced, “I’m ready!!” Unfortunately, there were still 45 more minutes of ‘crowd control’ (a.k.a. disciplinary measures and tantrums) to deal with before I walked out the door.
Driving away from the house, tears brimming, I said out loud, “I don’t want this life.” Just as quickly as the words slipped out, my mind filled with all the logical reasons why I really did want my life. Included in my gratitude list were boys who said “goodbye” with big kisses and hugs (and blows on necks…it’s a tradition). Despite the nuttiness of a morning, they still wanted to give me hugs. They live big and love big and forgive big.
My main goal for the afternoon was to mail out Quade & Price’s birthday party invites. But the first step was to find envelopes large enough for the invites I created on my computer. I knew there was a Michael’s near the post office. So my half-aware brain headed towards Michael’s.
As soon as I walked into the store I bumped into a friend…a “bump into grace" friend. Since Quade was a toddler we’ve consistently bumped into each other at stores, museums, parks, restaurants… I leave our conversations refreshed. We go deeply quickly. We breathe grace in each other's presence.
On this particular day I was super impressed to find her three kiddos perfectly behaved standing next to her, all quietly holding on to the cart. I encouraged them, saying “Wow! Y’all are doing such a wonderful job patiently waiting in line with your mommy.”
My “bump into grace" friend, through smiling, gritted teeth, said, “You have NO idea.” I shared with her some of my morning. Including my theory that challenging behavior may have been due to a late bedtime from the previous evening's VBS. She agreed. We exchanged goodbyes and I was off in search of envelopes.
I walked out of Michael’s empty-handed, just as my phone showed a text message from my “bump into grace" friend. Her text explained how a moment before I walked into Michael’s her oldest and youngest were playing tug-of-war in anger with a Brave coloring book. Right before I saw them behaving perfectly, she had given the “mommy look” and insisted they both put their hands on the cart. Her middle child was just scared quiet. She ended the text, “nice to see your smiling face.”
As I looked up from reading the text I saw my friend driving through the parking lot. I held up my phone to show I got the text. We shared knowing glances. We get each other. I felt encouraged because I’m not the only one struggling through the challenges of motherhood. It helped pull me up from my belly gazing and “woe is me.”
She shared how it encouraged her to see me and know God is kind. Seeing me had re-colored her day. Instead of remembering the horrible “tug-of-war” incident she remembered my perfectly timed entrance.
You know what’s even crazier? As I walked away from her car I asked if she could think of any office supply stores nearby to get envelopes. She pointed me to the Office Depot. RIGHT NEXT to the post office. Um, yeah.
Why didn’t it cross my mind to go to the very conveniently located office supply store for envelopes?
I believe God directed my steps.
“A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
He is kind. If we are willing to see His hand in our day we can see how He orchestrates “bump into grace" incidents.
Not just friends. Perhaps grace comes from bumping into a stranger (<---click to read). Or even through the world-wide web...
This week I received a Facebook message from a college friend I have not seen in over 13 years. She took time to tell me I have been on her mind. The night before she dreamed about my husband Bruce and I meeting her at a conference. When she woke up from her dream she prayed for us.
Do you know where my husband was when she messaged me? In Boston at a conference. I hadn’t posted it on Facebook. But I needed prayer while he was away. God had been kind. She had been available. She took the time to stop and pray.
Do you have friends you frequently “bump into” and God uses to speak to your soul and show you grace?
If you don’t have a real-life grace community, have you experienced “bump into” moments through online community? God speaking through the words of a blog post when you were at a breaking point? Scripture shared through Twitter or Instagram?
Ask God through His Holy Spirit to open your eyes to “bump into grace" moments. They are happening. My prayer is you don’t miss them!