I shared a short video on Facebook about "Shoulder Taps" last week.
Generally, I DO NOT LIKE strange men coming up to me and commenting on my appearance-- ICK-- but I believe this man was moved by the Holy Spirit to approach an elderly woman, and it ended up being exactly what she needed to comfort her in her grief.
Several times in my life I have felt a strong urging to say something to someone, to pay for someone's meal, to give a word of encouragement, and I pushed through the discomfort because somehow I knew the urge did not come from me.
I thought I'd share an example of someone reaching out to me, that I don't think I've written about before.
Lady Jennie, a writer who lives in Paris, supported me big-time following Jack's death. She is now a dear friend, and we've had the opportunity to spend time together in NY and in my home (alas, not Paris-- yet!)
Shortly after Jack died, Jennie was studying her Bible and praying when she felt a nudge to share something with me.
It was a rather obscure Bible verse from the book of Isaiah. Weir-d.
But not so weird that I wasn't open to it.
Remember when my little Margaret felt a similar prompting? If you go back and read this post from before the accident you will be BLOWN AWAY when you consider it in light of what happened a few weeks later. (Note: I used to call Jack and Margaret Jake and Molly on the blog for privacy)
This is what Lady Jennie sent to me, a stranger, after feeling the strong urge to do so:
"Though you were ruined and made desolate
and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
and those who devoured you will be far away.
The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
'This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.'"
Lady Jennie and I didn't know that within two years we would move, an action that was painful and would make zero financial sense but would get us out of a difficult living situation and allow us space to heal. No, our house isn't much bigger-- but our world has grown to include new friends and new opportunities.
She and I didn't know that in 4 1/2 years I would have an unplanned geriatric pregnancy that would result in sweet Andrew joining the family. And yes, in light of this verse I did wonder if Andrew would be twins!
While the verse didn't make sense to me at the time, it helped reinforce what was becoming clear even in, no, especially in, those early days of raw grief-- there was more going on than I could see and understand. In Virginia, in Paris, in Heaven. In many ways this helped me stay still and just TRUST, even when life felt desolate and ruined.
Trust that the right people would reach out to comfort me.
Trust that there was a plan for my life, even to expand it when it felt so diminished and depleted. Trust that somehow the deep, deep pain I felt would not always be so sharp.
Trust that the same God who told Margaret "You are MINE" and kept her safe by the creek, attentively loved and cared for Jack just as much.
We hear a lot about people making unsolicited comments to others, especially about parenting.
I think a good test could be whether we feel compelled to say something because it makes us feel superior, powerful, or it serves us somehow. Believe me, now that I have a toddler again, I am in situations regularly for people to HOLD THIER TONGUES when they see me parent in public.
I'm guessing Jennie didn't feel superior when she sent these verses to me. She probably felt vulnerable and a bit weird. But she reached out anyway.
Whether you want to call it a nudge, a shoulder tap, or a prompting of the Spirit, I'm so glad she paid attention.