To the childless woman at Walmart…
I saw you as we stood together in check out lane number three. I was holding the precious hand of my foster child and trying to talk her out of the ring pops and candy bars. We made eye contact, you and me, before you smiled at her and then looked down at your feet. My heart sank when I saw the look in your eyes. I know that look. I have seen it in my reflection. I know all to well the thoughts and emotions you have in these types of moments. Especially the moment when she called me mommy. Oh how I wished you hadn’t heard. I cringed as I watched you grip your cart tighter because I knew what you felt. You felt fear sweep over you like a tsunami wave as you wondered if you would ever carry the title “mommy.” You felt doubt wrap you up like a blanket as you questioned your life and the desires you have in your heart. And you felt shame as you thought you must have done something awful to deserve this form punishment. This punishment to not have a child. A child to call your own.
There were so many times in those three minutes that you and I stood together in which I wanted to lean in and whisper in your ear. I wanted to tell you that I understood your pain. Your doubts. Your fears. Your insecurities. And I wanted you to know that you are not alone. Because I know the longing you have in your heart. I know the words that are probably in your nightly prayers. I know the dreams you dream that feel shattered and the plans you have made that seem pointless. I know them.
Because I know all too well what it is like to wait for those two lines. I know what it is like to hear the words, “You will miscarry.” And I know what it feels like to doubt your faith. And question your dreams. And to lose hope. But then to walk the long heavy road back to hope. So I get it. I know.
But that’s not all I wished I had told you. I wished I had leaned in and whispered that you are not forgotten. I know it felt that way when you listened to her giggle as I tickled the back of her neck, but God sees you. He hasn’t cast you away. He hasn’t forgotten you. He also isn’t mad at you. Or ignoring you. I know it feels that way as each month your prayers seem to go unanswered. But just like Hannah did in the Bible, keep pouring your soul out to Him. Keep coming to Him with your hurts. Because He hears the cries of your heart and even though you can’t see Him working, He is. He isn’t twiddling His thumbs or taking a break from your problems. He wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t birth the dream of you one day being called “mommy” if He wasn’t making plans to see it come true. So don’t lose hope. And don’t hold back those tears I know you will shed when you finally reach your car. It’s okay to let them fall. Because not one tear will drop without it landing safely in the palm of His hand.
I wished I had told you all of these things. I wished I would have shared with you my heart. But I didn’t. Instead I watched you turn your cart around and with tears in your eyes, move to another line–a much longer line. And it was in the moments that followed, while waiting for my turn, that I realized I couldn’t let you leave. I couldn’t let you go home with the image of a happy mother and daughter. The image of a perfect family. And so I needed to find you. I needed to tell you my story. I needed you to know that you are not alone. You are not an outcast, a leper, that no one understands. You are not a product of your past mistakes nor are you being punished for your past sins. I needed you to know that. And I needed you to know that despite your loose grip, you should still fight to hold on to your dreams.
But as I looked around and searched the check out lanes and roamed the parking lot, I realized you were gone. You were gone and with you carried that painful image . And what you will never know is that your perception of my reality, is still my dream. And the pain you have, I know.
So to the childless woman at Walmart, the one in check out lane number three, I may not know your name and I may not have been able to wrap my arms around you and ease your worries, silence your fears, or give you new hope for your dreams or more faith to watch them grow; but I know the One who does and I know the One who can and I know the One who is willing. So don’t give up on Him. Don’t stop pouring out your heart and bringing Him your tears. And please, don’t let go of the dreams He has placed in that soft, fertile soil of your heart. Hold on to them tight. But if you do feel them slipping and you need someone to give you encouragement to keep holding on, then let me. Because I have faith to believe that your story isn’t finished yet. And that one day, through Him, you will hear the precious voice of a child, your child, call you Mommy as you stand waiting in check out lane number three.
Until then my friend, I will continue to look for you. I will continue to scan the aisles. And I will continue to pray that the precious voice and sweet giggles of a little one begging you for a ring pop or candy bar or that nasty sour punch liquid that is sticky and just gets everywhere, is not too far away.
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