The last time the Holy Spirit nudged me in Target, I froze.
But not tonight. Tonight, I listened…
It was supposed to be a quick trip, in and out to grab two items: bubble wrap and a cardboard box. I promised Brett I would pick up frozen yogurt on my way home. Going to Target by myself is a special treat, and one that typically entails trying on colored skinny jeans and perusing the clearance shoe aisle. But not tonight. Tonight I was good. I walked straight to the shipping supply aisle, and straight out the door.
That’s when I saw them.
A woman, holding a cardboard sign, with a little girl in a stroller next to her.
Without hesitation, I walked right up to her and asked if I could buy her something to eat. Her eyes widened as she eagerly nodded. We walked into Target together with Miranda, her four-year-old daughter. I grabbed a basket, and shifted my roll of bubble wrap and cardboard box under one arm.
“How much….I get?” she asked. She spoke very little English.
“You can fill up this whole basket and I’ll pay for it.”
“God bless you. Thank you.”
I looked down at Miranda and noticed that her clothes were dirty. It didn’t seem to bother her. She held a toy in her hand and smiled at me more than once.
“Do you have more children?” I asked the woman.
“Yes. Boy. He is seven.”
I told her about Everett and she seemed shocked that I had a baby of my own at home. We walked to the meat and produce section of Target, where she began to carefully study the selections in front of her. She slowly reached for a whole chicken, looking back at me.
“Yes, it’s okay. Just put it in the basket.”
She reached for some pork, looked at the price, and put it back.
“Do you want that?” I asked her.
“It’s too much. It’s ten dollars!”
“It’s okay,” I reassured her, “I will pay for everything you can fit into this basket.”
She looked at me, looked at the pork, looked at me again, and finally put it in the basket. We kept walking as she threw things into the basket I was carrying. More chicken. Tomatoes. Eggs. Yogurt. Sliced turkey. Milk. Strawberries. Peppers. A couple of lunchables for Miranda.
“I need oil and bread….that’s all,” she said.
The basket was getting too heavy for me to carry with one arm, as I awkwardly tried to readjust my bubble wrap and cardboard box.
“I take it,” she said. “You push Miranda.”
So I did. I pushed Miranda, while she looked back at me and said something in a language I didn’t understand. Her eyes were beautiful, dark mocha brown, with long curly eyelashes. She had two little clips in her hair.
We picked up oil and bread, both generic, the cheapest of options, the stuff I never buy, and headed toward the cashiers.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “I need laundry soap!”
“Okay, let’s get some.”
I know Target like the back of my hand, including where the laundry detergent is located. I pushed Miranda down the laundry aisle and grabbed a big jug of Tide.
“Oh, no no. Please. Too big. Too much.”
“It’s okay. They’re all this big. It will last you a long time. This is the kind that I use, I know it’s good.”
“No, no. It’s too much.”
“Just put it in the basket. It’s okay.”
She thanked me the whole way to the register. I asked if she had a place to live and she said yes. She told me that both her and her husband lost their jobs this year. Now she cleaned houses and her husband cleaned motels but they did not have enough money to buy food. My heart ached for her, but it ached more for Miranda.
I paid for the food and laundry detergent. The total came to $49.99. She put the bags on the handles of the umbrella stroller and said thank you again, telling me it was too much and that $50 was a lot of money. I told her that it was okay and that it wasn’t too much.
We walked out of Target together.
“God bless you,” she said to me.
“God bless YOU,” I said back to her. My eyes were stinging with tears.
Then she went right, and I went left.
I picked up the frozen yogurt I had promised Brett, and prayed for her the whole way home.
I didn’t do much. I probably could have done more. I probably should have done more. I didn’t talk to her about Jesus or give her money or offer her anything more than a few days worth of food and a few months worth of clean laundry.
But, I did something. And last time, I did nothing. Last time I froze.
I still think about that old lady in the frozen food aisle. Just like I know I’ll always remember the woman from tonight. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and it appears that in my life, He mostly speaks to me at Target. Who am I to question?