I was out in my garden the other morning when the peaceful reverie of my quiet time was pierced by a mother’s scream.
The family with whom we share our back fence was at it again. I had overheard blowups from this family in the past but I knew right away that this was going to be a bad one. (Don’t get the wrong idea – I love to spend time in my backyard. And let’s just say, one does not have to strain one’s ears to overhear the conversation.)
This one morning in particular, one of the children had apparently eaten an entire bag of carrots. “You’re a fat f–n pig. Do you like being a f–n pig? When you go to school that’s what all the kids are going to say because that’s how kids are in school. You’re a f–n pig.” The window was shut but not soundproof, unbeknownst to her.
It was heartbreaking, infuriating, wrong. Everything in me wanted to march right up to that front door and give her a piece of my mind. I wanted to call CPS and report verbal abuse. I wanted to raise attention to this despicable excuse for a mother. In a flash, my own childhood passed before me.
Now before we rush in with pitchforks, please understand something: I don’t know this woman. Maybe she is truly abusive. But I think it’s much more likely that, like my mother all those years ago, she is overextended, underpaid, and emotionally immature to manage her feelings. Perhaps her marriage is in trouble. Maybe they are in serious debt. Only God knows what heavy burdens lay suffocating her heart. It’s still terrible; I’m not making excuses. We must learn not to equate the person with their sin. After all, the same God who is able to heal me desires to heal her too. He has no favorites.
I felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit saying, “Look at this. Recognize it?” For the first time in the 8-odd months since we moved in, it occurred to me that I should pray for this family and befriend them. I don’t even know their names, we have never spoken before. Even so, there is a woman literally screaming for help in there. She is trapped and bound. Why should the Lord bless me with such peace only to sit here and do nothing? I need a pretense. My eyes wander over to my garden.
Squash! My summer squash won’t stop growing. We can’t get rid of them fast enough. We have eaten so much squash this summer that I almost regret planting them. But there are 3 new (huge) squashes ready to be picked. They must be almost 8 inches and a few pounds each. Who doesn’t like free food?
So I made the plan to go over there and bring a peace offering. But first, I need to get dressed – Helmet of salvation. Shield of faith. Sword of truth. Sandals of peace. Not so that I can ransack and destroy them; they are beloved of God however broken. I don the armor of God to be prepared to meet the enemy in his place of work. The home and family which he and his minions have ransacked and ravaged. I must be prepared because the enemy will put up a fight. Fortunately for me, we both know who wins this one.
Let us always remember and never forget that we are blessed to be blessings for others. Let us be alert and of sober mind – always watching, always waiting for that opportunity to inject the love of Jesus. Every day, I find another puzzle piece of my purpose in This Story.