Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Praying for Ms. Smith

Yesterday found me at the HEB clinic with Little Bit. HEB is a chain of grocery stores here in Texas and ours has a health clinic that takes walk-ins. Very good news for a family who is waiting a few months for husband's new health insurance to kick in.

There was a mom and little boy in front of us and she seemed very agitated with her little boy. He was so cute and had just turned four. We'll call him K. I learned a lot about this duo while waiting an hour and a half in the clinic with them.

Ms. Smith is divorced from K's dad. I know this because when he said, "I want down" she said, "Yeah, well I want your dad to send money." In fact, each time he said, "I want..." she came back with her own statement. I want a billion dollars. I want to take a shower and get to work. Actually, she needed to get to work. She was paying with her dad's debit card, which they wouldn't take. They asked her why she was using someone else's card and she told them, "Because mine doesn't have any money on it!" Duh clinic lady. She took the debit card to the ATM and got cash. They were having computer problems and she waited a really long time to be seen and then waited even longer for her prescription. K finally did get down and came over to talk to me and Little Bit.

I tried to keep both kids entertained because K's mom was just so stressed. I really felt for her. In between her bouts of snapping at him and getting angry, she really was trying to be a good mom. When a gentleman asked K about the pinwheel he was holding, she gently coached him to "look at the man when you answer him, K." I saw lots of moments of good mom coming out. But oh, the stressful moments took center stage. It was getting more and more uncomfortable to try to ignore.

Then the other clinic lady whispered to me "how do you contact CPS?" I understood that they might call because she was getting really close to a breaking point it seemed to me.
So why weren't any of us helping her? It was like a train wreck. You just stood there, not believing what you were seeing or hearing. The lady ended up not calling right then. She told me she decided the woman was just having a really bad day. We both agreed what she really needed was help. (and she hadn't hurt K at all, she was just getting really angry)

From what I gleaned, she works 7 days a week so I'm sure K is either in day care or at his grandparent's house. She gets no child support. She was up all night with a sick little boy who then felt good enough to run around the clinic while she faced losing money by being late to work. She hadn't showered and probably hadn't eaten anything either.

She kept saying, "Why can't you sit still like that little girl?" Oh how I wanted to tell her that Little Bit used to be a holy terror. It was only through concentrated training that she is now like she is. But then I thought,'s more than that. I have a husband who comes home at the end of the day and supports any discipline that has taken place. He participates in the training with me. We do not disagree in front of the kids. I am also home with Little Bit and able to work with her little bits at a time instead of in bursts of 2-3 hours after work/daycare is over. And also, we know the love of God.

Which is really the main thing that Ms. Smith needs. If you think about it, will you pray for her too? She was nearly in tears by the time they left. She said bye to me as she was walking out holding K. You know, you kind of bond with someone after 1 1/2 hours in the same waiting room! I squeezed her arm and smiled as I told her bye. I should have done so much more. Which is why I'm praying now.

And as much as my heart hurts for this stranger I've met much as I want her to find joy and peace...God wants that even more. I cannot imagine how He waits for us.


  1. I know how hard that is. I had a similar experience on Sunday leaving church. A mother was struggling with two toddlers across the parking lot and I wanted to help her but was worried about embarrassing her. I should have just offered.

    I will be praying!

  2. What an experience you had. Sadly, it's all too common. Yes, when I think of it, I will pray for Ms. Smith. Think I'll start right now.

  3. Thank you for choosing to believe the best - love hopes all things - and choosing to support her rather than condemn her. You stated the truth of the situation with love and compassion. I will pray for her today while on my exercise walk. Lord knows I've had some horrid parenting moments, and His support, often brought through others,has brought me to more maturity and patience. With the very comfort that I've received I'm able to comfort others. Thank you again for truth and love.

  4. That description could have easily been me when my children were smaller.

    And I *do* (and did then too) know the love of Christ!

    He saves us from our sin, after all--and to my shame, I gave Him plenty to save me from in my earlier years of mothering. I always longed (still do sometimes) for someone to befriend me in all sincerity and offer a helping hand...

    Next time, Brenda. It was exactly what God intended this time, and I'm sure your friendly smile was more calming than you realize.

  5. My prayers will go out for Ms. Smith, and the other women I know like her.

    My husband runs a teen group at our church for "strays" in our community, and many of the teens that come on Sunday night started out coming just to have a decent meal once a week because their single moms hadn't seen a child care check in years and were hanging on to their sanity by a thread. Something I admire deeply about my husband, actually, is that he has no fear and no reservations about jumping in and doing something to help people that need it. While I tend to think compassionate thoughts towards strangers in need, he invites himself over to change their oil for them. I need to learn how to step out of my comfort zone as well.

  6. you always know how to bring me to tears. Stopping to pray now.

  7. wow, I agree that could have been me some days! I have been completely mortified with the way I have acted on occasion!

    I will say a prayer for her and that someone will come her way to help!

  8. I will pray for Mrs. Smith and remember that God used you in her life over that 1 1/2 hours. This is a post of great conviction--reminding me to thank God tonight, instead of groaning about how tired I am, for all He has given me. May Mrs. Smith know His love as well.

  9. That is lovely that you prayed for her instead of condemned her. Life is hard for single moms like that. There but for the grace of God go all of us, and who among us has not been impatient with her kids. Glad, too, that that other lady did not call CPS. God bless.

  10. I just saw a story online about the Nebraska safe haven law and all the parents who have dropped their kids off at the hospital. Ms. Smith, at one point, said, "Bye." to her son and got her purse and walked out of the clinic. He was standing by my knee at the time and didn't even look up. I'm not sure he heard her. All of our eyes were big as dinner plates I'm sure. I looked across the counter at the clinic lady and pointed down and mouthed, "He's still here!" She mouthed back, "I know." Not even 15 seconds passed and the mom was back. But boy is she near the end of her rope. Thank you for praying everyone.

  11. I just sent up a prayer. God will pursue her, even if you didn't say what you wanted. He is faithful when we are timid. That squeeze might be exactly what He knew you would do, and exactly what He knew she needed.

  12. Yes, I agree with everything. I find myself at times in her very shoes when I haven't had my time with the Lord. Frustration works it way into my heart and before I know it I sound like I did before I was saved, with the nagging and mean-spirited replies.

    Maybe she is saved and just had a REALLY bad day. I've been there. And I will pray. Thanks for letting us know.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)