Monday, August 23, 2010

Laying down at Subway

My skin is crawling right now. It could be the cup of coffee I just downed, or the experience I had while eating fresh.

I never buy the $5 foot-longs. Can't afford them, frankly. Instead, I stick to the $3 6-inch sub of the day. That's a safe play. $3.31 for a full stomach with no leftover to lug around? I'm cool with that.

Today, however, I did order a foot-long. Ask me why.

I asked God this same question as the cashier swiped my card. $5.56. I spent at least 20 minutes earlier today rearranging my budget. I don't really have enough money to forget my lunch in the morning. Today the decision was be on time and be hungry or be late and full later. I was lazy and on time.

I anticipated a quiet lunch. After 2pm, people have typically eaten lunch and are making their way through the depression called the last half of the work day. For me, work began earlier, but this last half of the day has been full of distraction. I still need to write one story on a woman who started a library in South Africa.

As I was saying. I anticipated a quiet afternoon of prayer at Subway. Ready to eat, a family came in. Three adult women and four small children. I'm pleased to see children in the city. What could've been a nice experience of watching kids be kids, became a time of frustration. My mood immediately changed. The mother of these beautiful kids seemed to be so bent out of shape. She was harsh every time she addressed them. They couldn't seem to do anything right. I watched them as they darted around the restaurant. Besides a man in the corner, there wasn't anyone else there. Instead of hearing footsteps, I heard threats and hisses from this woman.

I tried to ignore it and focus on the task at hand. After the three women sat down with foot-long subs, I noticed that the children weren't being fed. I became angry.

Not only were they required to sit still while their mom ate an entire meal, but they were hungry.

I thought for a few minutes while my eyes filled with fire. "Really? God gives you children, and you neglect them? You treat them like an inconvenience and berate them in public." Assumptions were racing in my brain. I was looking at these women with disgust, anger and hatred. I felt like I wanted to give one woman a verbal lashing on how her poor choices had brought her to be an awful mother and woman. I thought, "I would go hungry for weeks if I had to if my child needed food. I would go naked to clothe them, and thirsty to water their souls. What are they doing!?!" I knew I couldn't think this or say these things. God doesn't want us to hate. He tells us to love. So I loved in the only way I thought to.

I looked at the kids sitting in a booth off to the side. In my mind, the leftover six inches of my sandwich could be split into four filling pieces for little children. But how was I going to do this without looking like I was trying to show them up?

I walked up to the table of kids. I asked, "Are you hungry? Have you had lunch?" Then I looked at the mother, "Is it ok if I give them the rest of my sandwich?" She sputtered, "Sure, but they've already eaten. They've already eaten." I can't say that she was lying. But she still let me give my food to them.

I cut up the six-inches of leftover and thought about Jesus, the loaves and fish.

My demeanor changed. Instead of being angry, I knew this lesson was mine: lay it down. Everything. Give away your food and in doing so you lose your pridefulness and ill mindset.

I've been waiting weeks to be able to give back. I've been feeling like a useless Christian, sitting around thinking and wondering about people's needs. Discussing what actual Christians do, rather than going and doing.

Today, I realized, God was bringing me to a place of humility.

Dwell on this: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.

It might be life, it might be pride, it might be anger or frustration, but whatever the case, we're called to lay it down for our friend.

I'm laying down pride.

What will you lay down?