The other day an intern asked if I could talk to the lady waiting in the reception area. “She needs to talk to someone about gas money.” I was short on time, in the middle of a project. This was not convenient.
Frequently, we have people come in asking for money. We often see the same people come back with the same story, “My sister cousin’s sick and I don’t have enough money to get to Houston.” They don’t come back except to ask for the same thing, repeating the same story. It would be comical if it weren’t so sad.
The sight of her took my breath away. She must have been in her late 70’s. A tiny thing, she couldn’t have weighed more than 80 pounds. She was at least a foot shorter than me, but it was difficult to gauge her true height -her back was so severely hunched. With her long, stick like limbs she resembled a spider walking upright on two legs, except for her curly white hair.
I asked if she’d like some water. “Oh no dear, I’m fine thanks.” She wore a simple flowered shirt and polyester pants; outdated and well worn, but clean nonetheless. I touched her arm in a gesture of kindness as I sat near her. I almost gasped, she was so frail.
Betty’s mouth was sunken in. Most of her teeth were missing, save for one lonesome tooth sticking out over her lip.
There remained a trace of beauty in her deep blue crystal eyes all but hidden beneath layers of leathery wrinkles. Surprisingly, her eyes danced happily as I spoke with her. Fragile and tiny in frame, she was lively and had a sense of humor.
I listened to Betty. She was easy going and confident though humble. Usually the teller will speak of hardship focusing on their woe. Always, it ends with, “All I need is money for gas to get to —–.”
Betty, went on about how her momma and daddy raised her in church and how they’d loved her well. She told me how good her life was and how happy she was. Her face lit up as she spoke of Jesus.
In the end, she still was in need. I went to my office to get a gas card thinking, “Wow, she’s really going to use it for gas.” Betty was legit.
Of all times, this was the exception that we were out. I returned, “Betty I’m so sorry. We don’t have anything”. We usually have $20 in petty cash, but even that was empty.
She looked at me, raised her eyebrows beneath worn rimmed glasses, and granted me a big smile, “Oh honey, that’s okay. It was good just to talk.”
I walked her to the door and remembered I had cash for my daughter’s class project. “Wait!”
Betty was so thankful for that $16. She tucked the cash in a little hand bag with fingers misshaped I would guess from arthritis.
We prayed together thanking Jesus for “being so good to us.” With a squeeze of my hand and a wave with her gnarly hand she left.
Her gratefulness made a lasting impression on me.
Whether you realize it or not, you are impacting others around you. What kind of impact to do you have? Is it positive?
Do you have something to give? Wisdom to share? Kindness to extend? A smile for a stranger? A helping hand to a friend in need? A simple thank you.
It doesn’t take much to make a lasting impact, if your eyes are fixed on Jesus.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” -Winston Churchill