Whether you were the one crying in public clearly in need of a friend, a prayer or a hug OR you witnessed someone in this situation, we’ve all been there. I love this stranger’s simple gesture of kindness to another woman in pain. It really is that easy to reach out to someone in need. No fancy words, just sincere concern. It SHINES through!
Recently, I was sitting in church, and the pastor was talking about the impact of losing a loved one.
Instantly, the tears began to fall. I was taken back to the previous spring of 2014 when my infant son, Dylan, unexpectedly passed away. The pain of that day cannot be measured or expressed adequately. His death left an enormous hole behind in my family's life.
Sitting in church, what started out as silent, small tears turned into gut-wrenching sobs. I tried to control them since I was in a public place, but the pain was too overwhelming, and even though I muffled them as best I could, I was embarrassed.
When I went to pick up my two older daughters from Sunday school afterwards, a woman standing behind me gently tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Are you all right?" I turned around and was shocked to recognize her; she'd been sitting in the row in front of me. Had she heard me crying? Did she think I was crazy? I was mortified and wished I could melt away right on the spot.
Before I could say anything, she confirmed my suspicions by saying, "I noticed you were crying in service earlier. I just want to make sure you're OK." The tears started to pool at the corners of my eyes as I thought about covering up the honest answer with the convenient, "I'm fine." But something happened in that moment when I looked into that woman's eyes.
I didn't see admonishment or judgment or even pity but rather concern and kindness. Her gentle probing broke down my walls, and I blurted out, "My son passed away a few months ago, and I am still dealing with his loss."
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister) is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
The woman reached out and pulled me into an embrace and said, "I am so sorry." I rested in her comforting arms for several moments, completely amazed by the kindness and compassion this stranger demonstrated in the most unexpected way.
In that moment, she was my hero because I'd been overwhelmed by how isolated I felt from my son's death. Her ability to see a stranger in need was a powerful act of love and kindness.
This incident set in motion the beginning of our friendship. She's now become a close friend and has been there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on. None of that would be possible if she had not reached out to me, a stranger in pain.
For another great story on friendship, click here!