It was in late January of last year when I left the house on a mission to pick up groceries. I would hit them all: Trader Joe’s, Costco and our regular grocery store. Shortly after heading out, I was getting hungry. Rather than pushing around a large cart on an empty stomach, I made a quick stop. I didn’t want to bust the budget with powdered donuts, chocolate pudding snacks and canned whip cream. I will sacrifice all those wasted expenditures for a giant burrito and a soda.
It wasn’t long and the food warehouse was crossed off my list and it wasn’t because I went there.
My last stop was where I would complete my mission and check the dreaded task off my list until a week or two when it would pop back on again. Yes, yes I know. At least I can afford groceries and have the convenience of driving to a place to pick up already-packaged food. I am thankful, but still do not enjoy it. As for Farmer’s Markets, that is another story. I love Farmer’s Markets. As I was saying, this girl was on a mission to grab a cart, finish it and go home.
I was just getting started when an elderly woman stopped to ask for help to find pecans. After assisting her, she asked “Can I give you a hug?” I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I let her give me that hug. She went on to explain that whenever she goes out, she makes a point to give one person a hug. She said, “I decided it was going to be you.” I realized that this wasn’t an ordinary hug. It was the one hug she would be giving to one person for that day. She said, “You know, some people don’t like to get hugs”.
As she walked away it really made me think. What if I did that too? What if I made it a point to give one person a hug? As in, one person, tonight, in this store. I think way too much. Just get the food and go. But as I continued to shop, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Okay, so really? I am going to hug someone? God, do you want me to hug someone? Am I talking to myself? Yes. Was that me or you? Just hug someone. O.kay?
Things just might get weird.
The store seemed crowded for a Monday night. You were either in a hurry or in someone’s way. I started noticing the people around me. They were checking off those lists so they could get out of there too. I shared this same mission only moments ago. Things changed somewhere between a sweet little old lady and some missing pecans on aisle who knows what. They all looked like they could use a hug. Who do I choose? Oh no, not her, there were too many shoppers around. So I went back to that list.
If someone told me I would ask a random person to give them a hug at the grocery store, I would have thought they were crazy. As it turns out, I’m the crazy one. Yes, I did it. I gave a random stranger a hug. I actually said these words, “Can I give you a hug?” without receiving any type of favor. The lady gave me a somewhat crooked smile and said, “Okay.” So I gave her a hug. After our quick awkward embrace she asked, “Do I look sad or something?” I just told her I was passing it on and bee-lined it to checkout.
Whether it was God nudging me to pass on a hug or my own crazy self, it wasn’t easy to do. As you just read above, I didn’t want to do it in front of anyone else. I didn’t want to look like a fool. Even though I followed through with it, I took the easier route. I found someone who looked nice, who would most likely say yes to a hug! This really made me think about my life as a follower of Jesus. Am I ONLY reaching out to those who are least likely to reject me? If so, I need to rethink God’s mission for my life.