Never in my life have I been so surrounded by witnesses to true charity: in our volunteers, our donors, the staff who give of their time to make the organization what it is, and in the daily sacrifices our moms make for their babies. In little ways, God shows us his generosity through these witnesses. I encountered this recently in the most unexpected of places: the checkout line at a Panda Express.
To the Man in Line Behind Me at Panda Express,
I work at Maggie’s Place, a home for pregnant women in need. On the unassuming Thursday evening that you chose to go to Panda Express, I was out with one of the women that lives in our home. She is 7 months pregnant and lived a life filled with challenges and countless hurdles before arriving at our home. On that particular night, she and I were meeting to discuss her goals and to enjoy some well-deserved orange chicken.
To you, I’m sure we looked like two ordinary women. Waiting in line, however, the conversation turned to her daughter, a beautiful, spunky 4 year old, whom she is currently working on regaining custody. We discussed all the plans she has in place and how hard she is working in order to provide for her daughter when the time comes.
After we chose our food and walked to the register, you came over to us. We were both unsure of what you would say, but our uncertainty changed to shock when you said that you wanted to pay for our meal. You had heard a little of our conversation about her daughter (we were talking loudly, so I can’t blame you for that) and wanted to encourage us. You said we were “two beautiful young women,” and when I tried to tell you that we couldn’t accept your kindness, you insisted.
For this mom, who has rarely known authentic generosity, a gift where nothing is asked for in return, your small act of love meant more than just a free meal. For a woman who struggles with knowing her worth, your smile and kind words were a gift that cannot be repaid.
So thank you. Thank you for telling us that we are beautiful. Thank you for sharing a little piece of your life with us in the conversation about your children. Thank you for showing us what it means to be a true man, how to sacrifice and give, expecting nothing in return. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of God’s love with us on that Thursday night in the line at Panda Express.
A Grateful Young Woman
“Understand this well, there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
By Zoe Apel, a MissionCorps