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We Must Decide to Engage

Twice Daily is my favorite. I go in everyday to get my fix of chocolate milk. One quart, Purity brand. It was at Twice Daily that I was once misidentified as Taylor Hicks, which; I later discovered after looking up his most recent picture, wasn’t a compliment unless I look like I weigh 350 lbs… anyway, I digress.

Today, I walked in and retrieved the aforementioned chocolate milk and went to stand in line. I was feeling festive. It’s Friday, last workday for me until well into the New year. I stood third in line from the cashier and decided to speak to the young woman standing in front of me. …(everything happens mouth first with me…)

“Good morning!” I said cheerfully. She turned around and amazed me with a warm glowing smile. I believe that we DO NOT live in a mean society, full of cynical people who are angry with the world. Rather, I believe we live in a  society that desperately aches for genuine human contact where people speak kindly to each other. The thing is, most young people today, don’t know how to react to real kindness or how to carry on a conversation. They have not been prepared on how to respond to civil conversation between strangers. Come to think about it, a lot of people in my generation have forgotten how to do it too.

“Good morning” she responded. I asked, “Are you ready for Christmas? Do you have a lot of people to get gifts for?” Surprisingly, she was ready for a conversation. She turned to respond, and as she did, I saw her profile. She was an expectant mother. Her little tummy pushing out…I smiled. I love young mothers. There is something so pure about a woman with child. Especially at this time of year…she saw me smile, as she answered my question, “I only have two more to buy for” she said, “I don’t like big crowds in stores” she said. I agreed with her.

Now, I have been discipled  by wonderful men and women of God over the years and I know that a man is NEVER to even mention that he suspects a woman is pregnant unless he actually sees a child emerging from her body, but this little thing was about 28 years old or so and skinny as a rail and I just knew she hadn’t just eaten an entire watermelon, so I took the chance.

I said, “Okay…when are you due?” She smiled, I just loved that, she loved being asked about her baby. “I am due on January 17th!” she said with excitement in her voice. I asked her if this was her first and she nodded yes. I could tell she was so excited about having her child…I remembered those days long ago when my wife and I were awaiting our first born on January 5th 1982. Those days are halcyon days in my memory now, although back in the day, they were bustling with activity and concern over finances, baby clothes and preparations. I asked her,

“Is it a boy?” She nodded to the affirmative, and smiled at me saying, “Men always ask if it’s a boy!” and laughed. I laughed too and I asked if she had a name picked out. She wrinkled her brow a bit and said, “My boyfriend and I can’t decide on a name.” She continued, “We would like to name him something significant, something…different.” My mind immediately went to “Moon Unit” and “Dweezle”…the names of Frank Zappa’s children. She said she didn’t know who Frank Zappa was and I said, “Believe me, it doesn’t matter!”

She studied me for a minute as the cashier was ringing up her purchase. Finally she asked, “do you know any names that are…significant?, special?” The cashier was now involved in the conversation and suggested a couple of names which were good ones. I thought it was odd no one else was standing in line. She turned her attention to me again. I said,

“You know, it is no coincidence your child is coming during this special time of year.” I continued, “Since you know it’s a boy, have you ever thought of the name, Christian?” Her mouth opened wide and so did her eyes. “That IS a wonderful, unique name!” she kept saying, “Christian…hmmmm Christian”. I asked her if she had any names in her family she had been thinking about and she shook her head no. she kept saying, “Christian”…wow.

As an afterthought, I told her I was sorry for not introducing myself. I told her my name and told her my wife and I had moved here a bout two years ago. I apologized for not asking her name and she said, “It’s just plain old Mary…just Mary”. I told her my wife’s name was Mary Ann, but I had begun laughing when she told me her name. She and the cashier asked why I laughed and I said, “Come on you two! A young woman with child and her name is Mary!? They both laughed. She said they weren’t looking for a farm with a manger to deliver her child and we all laughed. I paid for my chocolate milk and thanked the cashier and said “Merry Christmas!” I walked out with Mary and blessed her. “God Bless you Mary, and your baby and your boyfriend…and Merry Christmas!” She thanked me, wished me a Merry Christmas and got into her SUV and drove away.

I’ve thought all day about that exchange. I think the world wants to be approached in love. I think they want someone to be interested in them…I know I do. I believe they ache for the fruit of the Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. The Bible says, “against these, there is no law.” There is nothing that can regulate the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And they are in genuine demand. I think it is a chip shot to love people into the Kingdom…if we will only engage.