Isn’t it funny how, when you write something down or declare it out loud as a “here’s what God told me”, like I did here, that well, He’ll make sure you have a chance to practice what you just said?
Last week, I schlepped through the rain, dodging puddles on my way across the parking lot, as I headed into the super store to pick up a prescription.
A woman on a bench out front stopped me. “Excuse me, ma’am.” She held out a handful of dollar bills and explained, “I need $17.81 for a prescription, but I don’t have enough. Do you think you could help me out?”
I stopped and thought for about 2 seconds and then engaged her in conversation.
‘Better yet, I said, “I have my own prescription to pick up. Why don’t we go in together and I’ll pay for yours?”
Now, there are 26 ways til Sunday that you can argue about the right-ability of such a situation.
What if she’s lying and the drugs are for someone else?
What if she’s an addict and she’s just trying to get a fix?
At that moment, it was just, ‘Care for the woman, Jody. She’s a person.’
So in we went. On the way, she gave me a brief history of her medical conditions.
“I’ve had three heart attacks and I have 3 stents in my heart.”
I noticed she was limping and I asked about it.
“Oh, I got a condition in my feet. The doctor, he wants to break the bones in my foot and get them re set so they’ll heal right. But I don’t want no kind o’ pain like that. So I really need these pills.”
I still didn’t know her name.
As we stood in line, I introduced myself, then, “My name’s Ianthe,” she said.
(I’d never heard the name before.)
‘I-an-the’–that’s different. Sounds Greek, like the name of a flower.’
“Well, how’d you know? ” she exclaimed.
“Ain’t nobody ever heard of a name like mine before. How’d you know that?”
I mumbled something about how much I enjoyed studying Linguistics in school
I mentioned that I loved Greek, the language of the New Testament, and that Latin is a favorite language, as all botanical names are in Latin, and I loved gardening.
I told her I was a teacher and words were my favorite thing.
Blah, blah, blah.
She just wanted me to know her.
As we stood in line, she gave me the history of how she came by her name.
How Ianthe was the name of one of her mom’s friends in nursing school, and that’s where it came from.
A minute later we were called to the Pharmacy window.
We worked out the transaction and I inquired about her doctor.
Turns out he is in another city (why was she out front of my superstore? I thought).
After I paid for the pills, she quickly took the bottle from the pharmacist and dumped them into her palm, counting them out.
As I looked at the bottle I instantly thought, “Shoot, this is pain medication–maybe she’s hooked on these.”
At that point I couldn’t change my mind.
She had what she needed and she said her goodbyes.
“Now I gotta go see if I can get me a ride home,” and off she went.
I gave the clerk my name and waited for her to check the shelf for my prescription.
Turns out the store had to order out for it and it wouldn’t be in until the next day.
As I walked out of the store, I noticed she was gone from the bench.
‘That was quick. Guess her ride showed up.’
I jump across the puddles on the way to my car.
I’m mulling this over–
“That’s just wierd, God….
I go to all that trouble to come in here to get a prescription and turns out mine isn’t even ready.
What exactly was that all about?
“What was that about? I’ll tell you–
“I sent you someone who needed to know I see them,
that I know who they are,
that I KNOW THEIR NAME….
and when I told you what it was, instead of giving Me credit
(because you know that idea didn’t come from your own head),
you just bragged about yourself.
Told her how much you knew and how smart you were.
Blah, blah, blah.
“Remember that truth I reminded you about last week?
The one about living just one day at a time and making the most of every opportunity?
That’s what that was all about.
I wanted to remind you because I love you.
For next time.
“And I love Ianthe.
She’s the reason you came to the store today.
She’s the one I came for.”
My quiet heart matched the falling rain as I got into my car.
I don’t know why she needed those pills–obviously she was in pain.
And if she’s addicted to them, well, that’s worse still.