I reached for the plastic bar that would separate my groceries from hers, and began to empty my cart onto the black conveyor belt.

Her hair--the color of chestnuts and with dyed, light pink tips--was pulled into a messy ponytail that flicked her shoulder when she turned her head. She had a baby with her--a chubby girl perched in the cart's front basket that was generally reserved for very young children and "delicate items," like bread and eggs. The baby smiled and cooed at Bridget while I reached for the toiletries and stocking stuffers at the very bottom of my cart.

I noticed that a beautiful eyeshadow palette of mauves and pinks was the woman's last item on the belt.

"Will you tell me the total first? Before you scan the eyeshadow?," the woman asked the cashier.

Buy the eyeshadow.

The thought rang in my mind with the clarity of a tuning fork.

The cashier told the woman she would total everything first, and then continued to stuff the grocery items into plastic bags. I absentmindedly glanced at magazine covers and read article titles. The moment of truth came when the cashier punched a large button on the register and revealed the total on the small digital screen:

"Oh...nevermind about the eyeshadow," the woman shrugged, "I'll just leave it with you."

Buy the eyeshadow. 

The thought came a second time, invoking a large lump in my throat and a clammy flutter in my stomach.

I watched as the woman walked away with her cart; heading towards the sliding doors of the entrance. I threw my mind into a frenzied analysis of what I had observed and felt: It's too late now. Maybe she didn't really want the eyeshadow. If I run after her now she's going to think I'm crazy. I've missed my chance. I should have bought it before she walked away. Oh my gosh, I should have bought it! Am I going to regret not buying it for her. I'm going to have to chase her down now, and what if she's left already!?! 

I got a shaky feeling in my kneecaps as the beep, beep, beep of the scanner came to an end and it was now time to pay for my items. I paused long enough--before handing over my card-- to draw a deep and calming breath. And after slowing my heart rate a little and clearing my jumbled-mess-of-a-mind, what was left--with crisp confidence and sharp boldness--was that simple, three-word thought:

Buy the eyeshadow.

"Excuse me," I said to the cashier after she had handed me my receipt, "I know this is probably going to sound a little strange, but can I buy that eyeshadow? I'm so sorry you have to ring it up in another transaction, but I think I'm supposed to buy it for that customer you helped right before me."

The cashier just stared at me for a second or two...and maybe she blinked once or twice before smiling and saying she'd accommodate me.

I've never walked out of a grocery store so fast! I was practically jogging. With a bouncing and skipping Bridget desperately trying to keep up!

The parking lot was full. There were cars everywhere. Parked cars, cars looking for a parking spot, cars leaving the store. There were people everywhere, too. I quickly scanned the parking lot, searching and searching for a ponytail and a baby. I walked down one row and then cut through several parked cars to get to another row. I was starting to feel sick and sad and panicked, thinking I had missed her and that I had blown an opportunity to do something nice for another. I sent a quick prayer to heaven that basically went like this: "You wanted me to buy the eyeshadow and I did!  Now I need you to help me find her."

I looked to my left towards the cart-return stall and saw a baby sitting in a cart a couple of rows over. I almost screamed I was so happy! I had found her.

The rest of the story is so lovely it's almost holy. She was initially confused when I showed up at the trunk of her car. That confusion led to utter surprise when I told her I had purchased the eyeshadow for her. I could see it in her eyes and in her face--she was as bewildered as she was touched. I just grinned like a fool and kept saying, "Merry Christmas!" When she asked if she could hug me I said, "Heck yes!," and our embrace was warm and filled with love.

Do I share this story with you to "toot" my own "awesome service" horn? Absolutely not. Do I share this story with you so that you will think I'm amazing and generous? Goodness, NO! I share because I think, as in all things, there is a lesson here. And lessons are incredibly value in that we learn magnitudes about our divinity and purpose from them. When we share them, we learn from each other.

Michelle D. Craig, a spiritual leader of the Young Women's organization in my church, once said the following, "Sometimes when I have an impression to do something for someone, I wonder if it was a prompting or just my own thoughts. But I am reminded that 'that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.' Whether they are direct promptings or just impulses to help, a good deed is never wasted...and is never the wrong response."

A good deed is never wasted and is never the wrong response! Never. Never. Never!

I hope this gorgeous fact fills us to the tippy-top with courage to do good always...even (and especially) when we worry we might look crazy.

As crazy as a mama sprinting, with her cart, from a grocery store.


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