I picked the perfect hot pink polish and relaxed into the big cushy massage chair as the glorious warm water swirled about my feet. Oh sweet pedicure! What heaven to escape for an hour with a fashion magazine, solitude and an awesome leg massage!
Or so I thought.
Typically an anonymous Asian woman starts the water in the foot bath as I check Instagram on my phone, or answer emails or texts. It’s easy to remain distant, disconnected and disinterested in the human being who is dutifully washing my feet.
Today though, I felt the Lord prompt me to engage. “Talk to her, ask her name.” I’m fully aware our cultures are miles apart and she serves while I’m the one being served. But we’re both women so I knew there had to be common ground somewhere and I made a choice right then to close my cellphone and open my mouth. I learned her name is Kim and, no surprise, she’s from Viet Nam. So I asked questions and she began to share about her life.
I learned she’s been in America for ten years and has two children, a girl, eighteen just starting college and a boy who’s ten. She got married in Viet Nam and was blessed with the opportunity to come to America because her husband was in the military.
I asked her if she ever gets back to Viet Nam. With a hint of sorrow in her voice she told me she went back last year to see her whole family who still live there but unfortunately can never come here. She has to go to see them, but only during the years she can afford it.
As I spoke to her and we chatted a bit more, I was struck by how easily I let so many human beings who daily cross my path remain anonymous. Service people. The girl checking out my groceries. The college kid making my chai latte, the waitress serving my burger. Or, this precious lady studiously scrubbing my feet and expertly polishing my toes.
Just the act of her sitting at my feet reminded me of how Jesus served without fanfare. As she applied the hot pink polish He gently whispered this:
She has worth too.
She is not anonymous. She has a story. A compelling story in fact. And she’s not so different from me.
I decided right there and then I want to get to know her. I realized as women, wives and mothers Kim and I have far more linking us together than pushing us apart. I’m hoping we can be friends with no ulterior motive meaning, I won’t try to convert or proselytize, although it would be amazing if she saw so much Jesus in me that she simply had to know about Him. No, I want to get to know her because I really like her but also because of this:
Jesus values her and loves her as much as He values and loves me.
I’m eager to get to know her, to request her when I go back next month, to choose the super-duper extra special aroma-therapy $4o pedicure so I have more time with her and to tip her very well so she remembers me. I’ll put my money where my mouth is or, in this case, where my feet are. Jesus has shown me that she matters and He’s put me in her path and He’s teaching me an important lesson.
Each of our lives are critical to the story of redemption. Each of us can have extraordinary impact by ordinary acts of kindness and attention, by listening and engaging with the people in our path. The people loved by God.
We don’t have to be heroes, we just have to notice, open our mouths and engage.
I’ll be praying for Kim. For her salvation of course but also for her family, her husband and kids, for blessing on her life and protection and whatever else the Lord puts on my heart.
We all say we want to impact our world and live big God-Sized dreams and believe me, so do I. But what if I start with just one? Maybe the one I’ve never noticed before. Who knows, maybe in a year she and I will be real friends and our families will share meals together. Maybe I’ll get to meet her husband and children. I don’t know what God has for our relationship but I won’t ignore her, I can’t do that anymore.
There are so many folks that cross our paths who are easy to forget. But I don’t want to forget, I want to make the extra effort, go the extra mile. I want to be more willing to love, to smile, to talk, to shine love to someone I wouldn’t usually talk to. To turn my ordinary acts into extraordinary love as I embrace the small ways of making an impact and living like He lived.
Imagine if each of us who calls ourselves a Christian committed to connect with just one person we normally wouldn’t even notice, to give without asking anything in return. To lay down our personal agenda and simply show Christ’s love. To wash their feet. I believe we would change the world. One pebble dropped in the middle of an ocean will become a tidal wave by the time it reaches the far off shore. And one intentional act of love can be the beginning of changing the world.
For me it starts with my willingness to reach out and connect with just one Vietnamese pedicure lady.
As God is challenging me, I’ll share the challenge with you.
Who do you know?