Sweet Sweet Strangers

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3

This verse. A verse heard often in church. A verse common for little ones to learn in Sunday School. A verse many could recite from memory. A verse that has become cliché.

But God has shown me lately, that when I stop and think about this verse and really consider what it means, it should drastically change the way I approach each day. So often I go through each day so focused on the tasks I need to check off, the things that I need to get accomplished, my own wants and needs. And yes, there are things that need to get done – but God has been showing me that it’s more about the attitude and posture of my heart- to be ready to lay aside my agenda to see the needs around me and to act- even if it might not be convenient for me at the moment.

I was reminded of this one Monday morning recently when I was out and about with my newborn baby girl, Ava. My first stop on Monday mornings is to do our big grocery shop for the week. With our growing family of 6, the cart is always full to the brim. While I was checking out, I was trying to game plan how I was going to carry Ava’s car seat, while pushing the cart full of food. But before I could finish and pay, a stranger in the next aisle kindly asked if he could push the cart for me to my car. When we got to the car, he graciously offered to unload them all, but me, being my stubborn self (when will I learn?!) said I was okay and he went on his way. In the middle of unloading my bags, a car pulled into the parking lot beside me. A man came out, saw me unloading the heavy boxes, and asked if he could help. This time, I obliged (think God was trying to teach me something??), and he finished unloading and continued on his day.

After several other errands, I had 30 minutes to spare before picking up my boys from school. Since I was right by my hairdresser and Ava was passed out, I decided to run in real quick to see if she was free to fit me in. Sure enough, she was, so I put my sleeping baby beside me and she got started. No less than 3 minutes later, Ava woke up crying (how are they so good at knowing the worst times to wake up?!) and I was starting to plan my next course of action. But before I could do anything, a stranger, a lady that had just finished getting her hair cut and was walking out the door, came back in, scooped up Ava in her arms, and started rocking her and singing. And she did this for the next 30 minutes until my hair was finished and freshly cut.

As I thought about the events of my day, being humbled by the sweetness of these strangers, God gently reminded me of Philippians 2:3. Yes, these people had their own busy lives, their own to-do lists, things to get accomplished and people to see, yet they considered my needs more important than their own. They beautifully lived out this verse.

And God convicted me with, “How can you live out this verse on a daily basis?” More often, I need to take my eyes off myself, look to the needs of those around me, and act. Not when everything is accomplished. Not when its convenient for my schedule. But in the midst of the busyness of daily life. Because it is when I do this, that most joy is found. Because when I serve and sacrifice and give of myself, that is what Jesus calls the most abundant life.

-Megan Herring, GEM Co-founder