I had a "shopping with Jesus" experience last week.
I have this friend, Melody. She is refreshingly real and vastly poetic--her talent for verse runs deeper than a river. She is as wise as she is kind. I respect her appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and her awareness of the people around her. I adore her.
Melody once wrote a post on her blog about the phenomenon, "Shopping with Jesus." It is that exhilarating moment when all the "retail planets align" and you find EXACTLY what you were shopping for, what you wanted, what you needed. It is being at the right place at the right time. It's finding the perfect pair of pumps the night before the wedding. It's finding the "out-of-stock" Christmas gift--that you have been searching and searching and searching for--on an obscure shelf in the toy aisle. It's heaven!
On Thursday night--as I was tucking Lilly into bed--she informed me that it was "Christmas Sweater Day" at school on Friday. Friday. As in, THE NEXT DAY. With tears in her eyes and worry in her voice, she said, "I don't' have a Christmas sweater. What will I wear?"
She had had a rough day at school. She had broken up with her troll-like (ahem) best friend AGAIN, the girls on the bus had been unkind, and she forgot her library book. When the front door swung open--signifying her return--I knew immediately that something was wrong. Her boots trudged heavily on the tile and her shoulders slumped. I could see tears on her cheeks. It broke my mama's heart.
So, with a quick hug and a kiss on the forehead, I said to Lilly, "Not to worry. You go to sleep. I will take care of it."
I knew I wanted to do something special for her--to brighten her sadness and to bring a little Christmas magic into her heart. I wanted to remind her of how much she matters to me.
There was only one thing I could do. Go to Target.
I carefully perused the sweater racks. I searched the piles of t-shirts on the shelves. I double-checked the clearance section. I walked around and around on that red carpet--dizzy by the bright lights, the Christmas music, and the lack of selection. It was late; I was tired. I was starting to feel stressed.
I found a long-sleeved red shirt with a glittery Christmas tree on it. The moment I saw the glitter, I knew it was perfect. I looked through all the sizes. Extra small. Large. Extra large. Lilly needed a medium. I checked again and again, willing that medium to miraculously appear. There wasn't one to be found.
In my infinite wisdom and technologically savvy ways (har, har), I pulled out my phone and did a target.com search for the shirt. It was out of stock everywhere except for one store. One store. And it was across town.
What to do? What to do? My heart felt heavy in my chest as the sadness started creeping in. I didn't want to disappoint Lilly. I took a deep breath, threw back my shoulders, and marched out of that Target store. I knew I was about to visit my second Target of the night.
A repeat of my first shopping experience transpired: Searching. Walking. Scouring. Looking. Walking more, searching more. Finally, I found the rack where all the Christmas shirts were hanging. They were a mess! Mismatched and out of size order. I slowly went through each and every one. Not only was there no Christmas tree shirt to be found, there were no other shirts in her size. At all. Tears pricked my eyes.
Please, God, I silently prayed as I slid the shirts along the metal bar, I just wanted to find a shirt for Lilly. I just wanted to do something nice for her, to cheer her up. Please help me find something...
And as soon as the word, "something," rolled through my mind, there it was. A Christmas tree shirt. Size: Medium. THE ONLY shirt left. The ONLY medium. The ONLY Christmas tree shirt. I clicked my heels and laughed happinly as I made my way to the register! I knew I had just shopped with Jesus!
It was late--well past the evening news and The Tonight Show--when I crept into Lilly's room. I could hear her breathing heavily--signs of deep and peaceful sleep. I laid the shirt on her dresser, beside the pants she had set out to wear the next day. I also placed new Christmas socks on her dresser. I couldn't wait for her to discover her surprise in the morning!
As I left her room, I peeked one more time at her shirt. I peeked one more time at her sweet, sleeping face and thought...
Thank you, Jesus.