Brightly lit fluorescent bulbs hummed overhead, illuminating the sea of bodies filling the confined space. Children shrieked with delight as they ran through the expanse of the restaurant’s seating area, weaving through pathways of adults clutching filled cups and trays in hand, dodging to avert the direct impact of a small body. The intoxicating scent of fried chicken permeated the air as we stood in a formed line, awaiting our respective turns at the cash register.
I absentmindedly glanced at the menu displayed before us, a series of boards connected to one another, lit to highlight the restaurant’s most popular selections. After all, I had walked in to the restaurant with my order pre-determined, one of the many items to cross off on the never-ending checklist within my head. As I waited, I briefly retrieved my cell phone from it’s resting place within my cross-body purse, momentarily checking the time listed on the digital display before moving forward in line. I scanned the list of registers, watching as each cashier interacted with the customer they were servicing, engaging the customer in genuine conversation while transcribing their order. I enjoyed the atmosphere here, and that was why my family and I frequented the establishment. We would traditionally all enter the restaurant as my children and I secured a table, while my husband would order. On this day however, we were rushed, and I was the one who had been assigned to run in and order while my husband waited with our children in the car. After a long day of running errands, culminating with a toddler meltdown in the dairy aisle of Target, we had both agreed it would be easier for me to order than to drag everyone in.
Chatter continued to flow around me, the words of conversation enveloping me like an awkward hug, offering glimpses in to the lives of others who stood with me in line, our collective gathering place the Chick Fil A ordering line. As a naturally curious by nature, I would typically lightly eavesdrop on these conversations, but on this day, I was so wrapped within my own thoughts that I found these conversations not only intrusive, but irritating.
Unfortunately, it seemed to be the running theme of my life at that time.
I was suffering with a series of issues, all of which were fighting for dominance in my head, that I found myself on edge constantly. Activities which I use to enjoy I found to only cause me additional stress and frustration. I was not willing to admit it to myself, but I was depressed.
At last, it was my turn to approach the counter. I mentally ticked off the items in my head one more time. Chicken nuggets kids meals. Chicken sandwich, spicy chicken sandwich, drinks. As I walked toward the register, a gentle woman with a warm smile greeted me. Her hair was perfectly combed to frame her heart shaped face, and her rich, chocolate brown eyes sparkled as she recited her “Welcome to Chick Fil A, how may I help you?” script. She took my order as I distractedly repeated the items on my list, smiling as she handed me the placard that would identify me when my order was completed and ready to be delivered to me. Realizing that I had forgotten to order an additional item, I quickly scanned the growing line behind me. I could either forgo the item completely, or return to the line, causing my restless children and husband to wait in the car for another extended period of time. If I were to make them wait longer, I knew that my children would be cranky and that my already frayed nerves would likely result in me becoming frustrated for anger they did not deserve. I looked back to her, the stress in my voice likely apparent as I pleaded to add another item to my order. She smiled politely, stating “certainly,” as she retrieved my debit card and completed the transaction. I thanked her, and moved to the carry out section of the store, to allow for another customer to order, thankful that in the midst of the amounting tension that had risen that day, the act of ordering our food had been met with ease at the hands of this incredibly understanding woman.
She could not have realized that day, when she was performing the daily tasks of her job, the grace with which she treated me. She was serving yet another customer, and to her I was a stranger. She did not realize that I, in that year, had endured unimaginable pain, stress and chaos, and that the culmination of those events was at that very moment building, which would later set me on the path to where I am at today.
Several months later, I was perusing the comment section of a post penned by one of my favorite bloggers, inquiring to her audience about who of her followers was also a blogger. She was seeking several of her readers to write a review of her upcoming book for their blog pages. I scanned others link, and read the names of their blogs, before landing upon hers. At the time, on the day that she and I met face to face, she gave only her first name, the one emblazoned on her name badge. I had no idea of her last name, or even that she was a writer, and was surprised when I felt compelled to click on a commenter’s name with the same first name as she. As I clicked on her thumbnail of a profile picture, I instantly recognized her face. Her kind, warm smile and thoughtful brown eyes filled the screen as I scanned her Facebook profile. I hesitated, and in an out of character move for myself, clicked on the ADD FRIEND button. I was certain she would likely reject it, as she would not recognize me. In her line of work she had to have met hundreds upon hundreds of people a day. Surely there was no way she would know who I was.
Several hours later, she messaged me, and we began chatting. In addition to working at one of my favorite restaurants, she is also a writer, and we instantly connected over our passion.
I truly believe that God brings people in to our lives at various stages to assist us in guiding us towards Him and his ultimate plan. At the moment in which I met her, during one of the darkest periods in my life, I had no idea that a simple interaction would morph in to a deeper connection.
I am thankful to say that I am no longer in the stage of my life that I was at that very moment, in that restaurant line. I am grateful that I am given this opportunity, to write the words He has placed on my heart, and that when I am questioning my success as a writer, or the direction of my blog, that He has given me the very woman I met behind that cash register, to encourage me to continue.
God works in mysterious ways..and it all started with one small meeting.