Several years ago, I heard our friend Ruth Meek speak at a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. She shared ideas on Redeeming Christmas. Wonderful tidbits of encouraging and fun information passed her lips, but one, the idea of Secret Santa-ing someone in need – real need – often unspoken need – isolating life-need, stuck and continues to stick with our family.
The gist: think about someone who had a tough year and bless them with presents, gift cards, an act of kindness – whatever. But do it anonymously. Which is the fun part. Nothing like teaching your kids to ring and run; but there’s something about surprising someone and watching from a safe distance the reaction when they open the door and see a physical manifestation of unexpected blessing. And, more importantly, it brings to the forefront the fact that Christmas – in the midst of commercialism and so much more – is about love. Our kids might have a little less to unwrap under the tree, but they get so much more than they ever expected when their tanks are filled by serving others.
Since sharing about Ruth in Cleaning House (the chapter on our month of serving others), I’ve heard from lots of folks who have decided to play the blessing game. This year, some friends invited us to join in their effort to bless a couple families that I’ve only just met. And, I can’t imagine not sharing with all of you the blessings that went down yesterday (names have been changed/omitted & if you can decipher the pics or peeps, please keep it to yourself :). Maybe it might inspire all of us to fill empty tanks walking along side us. Because you just never know when they might need to feel loved by the hands of Jesus – hands that just might look like yours.
Here are a few of the text messages that shared the play-by-play:
One mission accomplished! It went down in the aisles of Kroger. Here are JJ and kids sneaking and hiding (in the beer aisle) …
No one wanted the targeted blessing to know who was leaving her a surprise. They just wanted her to feel loved.
K wasn’t at her place in deli so we found her manager, Venus. Venus kept asking our names and JJ stuttered and said ‘if she asks what I look like, can you just describe Jesus?’ She laughed and said ‘that’s good.’ Venus called for K from paging system and then gave her flowers w cards attached.
I was chicken little afraid Id blow our cover so only saw back of her head while Venus gave it to her but JJ saw K’s face, and tears and her looking around frantically. So we bolted. First mission of blessing and Christmas love ACCOMPLISHED!
That was enough to fill everyone’s tanks. I read the texts to my kids. They relished in the joy even having never met her. But it didn’t stop there. A message from the overwhelmed target arrived on our instigator’s phone. It was forwarded to all involved:
Fw from K:) Im leaving at 5…I had a vistor today..left flowers and a bunch of gift cards…I would have like to meet this person..but by the time I made it down the stairs he was gone…
Just called K to confirm plans for tonite and then I said, ‘so tell me about your surprise!’
K: It was you – right?
Me: Your text said it was a man – I’m not a man! What happened?
K: Well I was up in office doing my insurance and I heard Venus page me. And she gave me some flowers w all these gift cards – like $400 worth! And she said it was a white man and first I thought it was “M” but then she said he had blood on his hands and that kind of freaked me out! But then she said ‘naw, K, it ain’t like that but just real red hands and long hair and when you look in his eyes it be like you be lookin right at Jesus.’ And the note on there, it said it was from Jesus. I mean I can’t believe that God loves me like that! ME?! I ain’t never had anybody do nothin like that for me or nothin. Never. I mean you do stuff for me and love me but someone I don’t even KNOW?! I mean ME?! And I came into work all gloomy bc a friend of ours got shot last night in front of his aunties house in South Dallas … and then God did this for ME?!
Was Jesus himself hiding in the aisles at Kroger? No. But the hands and feet he uses to continue spreading his love were there… and active. Someone who has spent a great portion of her life feeling forgotten, alone, afraid, hurt, down & out, and so much more was washed in a cascade of love. Because she is loved. And everyone involved – even Venus, the kids, text readers – got to bask in the joy that comes with love and Hope.
Here’s hoping this story inspires each one of us as we race to get everything done to slow down, to open our eyes, to see the people around us who need love … even when its those closest to us, sometimes the hardest to love.
And when the question arises, “Who did this?!” … might the answer be, “Can you just describe Jesus?”
Thanks for walking the road with me.