Meeting Spiderman

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I just wanted to get in and out of the store without talking to anyone, without melt downs from my kids, without being there for an hour (there HAS to be some kind of time vortex in grocery stores that suck your time, minimum of 1 hour…). Maybe this comes with the territory of being slightly introverted. Avoid eye contact. Smile when necessary. Just hunt down the items on your list and get to the check out.

Today was NOT that day. In fact, it’s not most of my shopping days. And it’s all because of those little people sitting in my cart that I affectionately call my sons.

This is how the scenario usually unfolds: My youngest waves and says “hi, I James” to everyone (but that’s not his name mind you, it’s his older brother’s name…). Then the older one corrects him to the stranger who has just received a toddler’s greeting and explains, “he’s not James, he’s Timothy. I’m James.” And I just laugh and smile and tell the stranger, “yep, he’s right. Silly boys” as I refrain from running away so the conversation doesn’t have to go anywhere else. I’ve got an agenda, ya know?

Well this time, my youngest changed things up on me. As we round the corner to aisle 5 (which means I still have at least 12 or more aisles to go people!), he shouts out, “pyer-man!” (For those of you who don’t speak toddlerese, that’s Spiderman.) Naturally he’s speaking of the man who is changing out the grocery store trash, because he OBVIOUSLY looks like Spiderman…black man, about 50 years old, bald, glasses, wearing a navy blue shirt. Right, son, that’s Spiderman.

So then I feel like I need to explain to the man what my 2-year-old just said just so he knows it wasn’t something bad (you never know how people translate little 2-year-old boy’s speech). Spiderman comes over to our cart and what happened could only be explained as a divine appointment. This man was so good with my two boys, and my two boys obviously thought his man was as cool as Spiderman (maybe that was what was going on in my 2 year old’s mind?? “He’s cool, just like…Spiderman” ?).

I’ll bet that people ignore this man all day long as he goes about his business of changing the trash in this gigantic store. I’m guessing he seems invisible to a lot of people, particularly those who are in the store just to get in and out (who is so busy to be that way??). But isn’t it interesting how children are so unlike us adults? In a good way, I mean. They’re so friendly to everyone, and what I’ve seen more often than not, is that the people my children greet respond in a very positive way. Their day is brightened or else they end up blessing me and my kids. It almost never fails. And I’m just trying to get out of there. Shame on me.

This introvert is learning some very important lessons from two little blessing-givers. The ironic part is that I have been trying to ingrain this message into my older son for a long time now. People are more important than ___ (toys, winning, getting my grocery list knocked out in record time to avoid the time vortex). Every time my oldest starts fighting with my youngest over a toy, I yell (yes, I do yell …sometimes) “your brother is more important than you having that toy, son!” Then I roll my eyes and wonder, sometimes aloud much to my shame, “why can’t he get that through his head?!” Um. Guilty as charged. I have a big plank in my eye on this one.

How is it that my 2 and 5-year-old see the value in the people around us better than I do? I have seen them brighten someone’s day way more than I can count. It’s a thing of beauty. Like I said earlier, it often ends up being a blessing to me. I end up beaming with joy to see my littles minister to people who are probably just trying to mind their own business as they tackle a list. I imagine this is much how Jesus viewed His time with the people He encountered.

He never seemed too busy to stop and talk or touch or teach.

He never seemed like one to hide or blend in just so He would go unnoticed to fulfill His list of things to do.

He took the time to let people know that He saw them. Really SAW them. Because He is the God who sees.

He sees the janitor changing the trash cans. He sees the single dad walking aimlessly down the aisles. He sees the cashier bagging the groceries. And He sees the mom with two little boys and invites them to see with Him.

I’m working on seeing with His eyes. I’m learning to be patient and let my kids greet every last patron in the store because you just never know who might need to experience a bit of Jesus through some little children. Hey, even Spiderman needs Jesus!

That’s my challenge I guess. Seeing people and not just trying to avoid them. Looking for opportunities to be a blessing and not just keeping to myself. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to meet Thor next time. 🙂 (and maybe he can do something about that time vortex!)

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