Of course, a tour bus driver dumped a full load of women at the door of the restaurant where I had been a waitress for the last 6 years. Of course, both levels of our dining room were already full, with a line out the door. Just another Friday. It happened all the time. I grinned. I knew It meant more dollars in our pockets. “Gird your loins, ladies!” I said to my waitress friends, hoisting my tray of drinks.
“Make them smile!”
Table 4 needs salt. 12 thinks her soup is tepid. 8 is talking so much while I share the specials that they need me to repeat myself 3 times. Table 2 is sure there MUST be gluten in the gluten free soup. Table 6 needs 4 desserts to eat right now and wants me to box an assorted dozen to go. I’m wiping my own tables to flip them faster, running down the flight of stairs with a tub of dishes on my hip, dodging the winding line of people. I’m thinking about the saltshaker I need when she grabs my arm. I groan internally, “Where is this lady’s waitress?”
“God told me to talk to you.”
Swirling images of desserts, salt, dish rags, and gluten screech to a halt.
“WHAT?” my brain screamed.
I pasted a smile on my face. As a waitress, a message from “God” usually comes in place of a tip. The last thing I was looking for was another church lady telling me what to do. I couldn’t WAIT to get back to that saltshaker I needed. She came close, pressed a homemade necklace into my palm, and locked eyes with me.
“God sees you. He hears you. He cares.”
For a moment, those eyes…8 words from her lips emblazoned into my heart. In the next moment, I’d shake my jaded mind free, and run to convince the gluten lady at table 2 that she was sure to live another day.
I counted my tips, stuffed the strange necklace in my purse, and pointed my car home. Time to jump into another weekend with my family. Those words, that flew in the face of my broken emotions from the recent betrayal by people who used to utter those same type of religious sentiments to me, were the last thing on my mind.
During a quiet car ride on Monday, I felt the necklace in my purse and told my husband that the strangest thing had happened on Friday. I repeated the experience, thinking he’d snort at this crazy interrupting lady. Instead, my 6’ tall, football shouldered husband burst into ugly tears.
I sat there as he finally poured out his heart. That Friday, with our two oldest in school, and our baby down for a nap, he’d been alone on his day off. He’d been in despair. The months of betrayal, lies, and insecurity had reached a peak. He was hopeless, confused, and empty. His identity had been shaken, he was misunderstood, his job was in limbo, and he didn’t have much left to offer. In a moment of frustration, he had cried aloud. “Where ARE you, God? Do you even see me? Do you hear me? Do you care?”
Silence answered him.
The answer had been sent before the question. A lady woke up early that morning with a whisper in her heart. A message for someone she had never met. She didn’t know who would go home with the handmade necklace she tucked into her bag. In the din of the lunch rush, she boldly reached out to grab the arm of a hurried waitress. She locked unwilling eyes and spoke the words God had put on her lips. None of it made sense.
I’ll never forget her eyes. I wish I remembered her face. I wish I could tell her that her Friday words sparked hope on Monday. I wish I could tell her that my husband and I clung to those words over the next 9 months as we sold everything we owned, turned in our resignation, traveled the US, incredulously accepted a new job in the most unexpected place, and moved our family 4 times in a row. I wish I could tell her that though I “let go” of almost everything I owned; her necklace has a place of honor in my bedroom. I wish I could tell her that I still touch it almost every day and repeat…
He sees me. He hears me. He cares.