I was in the grocery line when I saw her.
I was unshowered after working out and spending the day cleaning. My mind was already racing with all I still had to do. But more than that, I was ashamed about how much time had passed since I last saw her.
It was Sue. I hadn't seen her for years but there was a season in life when her presence grounded me. She was the wise one, the one who was always there, the one you could count on. As a young mom, I would show up in church, overwhelmed by life, and probably still fuming over the argument I had in the car. On the way to church, no less.
Then there was Sue, arms steadying her unwell husband Bill, showing up every Sunday as sure as the sun would rise. Sue was always ready with a word of encouragement for me, a smile, and enveloping hugs of comfort.
There was something about Sue that always stayed with you. She lived solid, demonstrated by an unshakeable demeanor, and a fierce and steadfast love for her husband. Sue's faith was battle-tested and true. As a young struggling mom searching for steady ground, Sue was always ready with a lifeline of encouragement and love for me.
Long ago Sue reminded me how a marriage with God at the center created a true power couple.
Her words and her example always stayed with me. So when I saw her standing there in line at the grocery, I paused. Our circumstances and churches had changed. Life had pressed on like it always does and we had lost touch. At that moment, I knew nothing could be more important than to hug her neck.
After we exchanged quick stories and newsy updates, I returned to my grocery checkout. But something in my heart felt like I could do better. For someone that was such a light to me for so long deserved more than pleasantries in aisle two. I hunted Sue down in the parking lot because just as she was all those Sunday mornings, I was like a moth to the flame again for her steady presence.
I longed to know how she was truly. If she was okay without Bill. The last time I had spent time with her was many years ago at his funeral. Long ago, Bill knowing my love of books had blessed me with many of his favorites. Books that line my shelves today and still remind me of his life and example.
Going deeper with the people who cross our path doesn't take much. Step out of the grocery line, set aside your productivity just for a bit. Ask the extra question, look them deeply in the eye, and take a minute to remind them of their gifts. If you can tell something is troubling, acknowledge that place too. If nothing more than to remind others, you are with them and for them. No matter if it's just to serve as a kind presence, like Sue was to me, or to share an example of steadfast love like Bill.
This holiday season, consider ways to go deeper with those in your midst. Sue's strong presence of goodness was there when I needed it the most. I'm grateful that God put her on my path that day. I was enriched and reminded of her light all those years. Now, perhaps it's my turn to be that for her in this season.
Who can you go deeper with this week?
Where can you take an extra few minutes to be a kind presence to someone?