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More Than a Smile

by Gloria Gunderson  
3/23/2012 / Short Stories

I walked past them and smiled. Nothing is cuter to me in the store than a mother and child shopping together. The mother was leaning over kissing the child on the forehead. It struck me immediately how beautiful and sad she was. When I smiled, the little girl noticed and smiled back while burying her head in her mom's shoulder. She was shy of a stranger noticing her.

I wheeled my cart past them and continued to shop, trying to concentrate on what was on my list. For some reason, my mind kept wandering to the little girl with her mother. I quickly brushed aside the thoughts, wanting to finish up my shopping. I only had a few more things on my list.

Thoughts of my marriage started to run through my mind. "No. I can't think of this right now. I have things to do." It was the same story for me. "Just keep going and you'll forget about last night. Concentrate on taking care of the kids. That's what matters most right now. Maybe things will be different tonight."

One of my own children interrupted my thoughts. "Baby, mommy. Look at the baby." I looked up from my list and noticed the mother and little girl. They had just turned down our aisle. "Yes, sweetheart. Can you say hi to the baby?" "Hi, baby," my son replied. The mother smiled at my child. He thought all kids were another baby, even if they were his age.

"How are you today," I asked.

"Fine," she said. I could see a faint glimpse of tears in her eyes. I thought maybe I imagined it, but then I felt it. Sometimes, it was so inconvenient, but there it was. God was speaking to me. I knew that He wanted me to touch this woman's heart somehow. Momentarily, it irritated me. Not now! I have a million things to take care of, God. I just want to finish shopping! I let the moment pass. I let that shining moment, when God speaks, to pass. I walked past them to continue on my way.

A few aisles later, there they were again. I knew God brought them my way again. I knew that He was giving me another chance to obey Him. I knew what He wanted me to say and I didn't want to do it. It was too embarrassing. What would she think?

I cringed inside as I said, "I don't know why, but I feel that God wants me to tell you that He cares for you very much and everything will be okay." Immediately, I knew that the earlier glimpse of tears I saw were real. She smiled and thanked me.

I finished our shopping, checked us out, and wheeled my cart out to the car. I was starting to put things in the trunk when my son shouted, "Mommy, there's the baby." I looked to where he was pointing and there they were again, in the car parked next to us. The child was in her car seat and the mother was in the front seat, her head down over the steering wheel, her shoulders shaking, visibly crying.

I knew what God wanted me to do. I quickly dug into my purse and quietly knocked on her window. She rolled down the window, wiping her tears away, giving me a shy smile. "I know that I'm supposed to give this to you. God told me to give this to you." Her eyes welled up with tears again as she took the two $20.00 bills I was handing her. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to my daughter and I."

A few months later, when I came to the abuse shelter with my children, that same mother was there. We quickly became friends and I learned that the money I gave her that day allowed her to leave her abusive husband. He had such tight control over her, she didn't dare spend one extra penny or he would find out. She used my money, God's gift to her, for extra gas in the car and some things she needed to buy in order to get them safely out of the house on a weekday while he was at work.

You never know what He is trying to accomplish in somebody's life through you.

I have been writing since I was in high school. When I was in my 20's and my kids were little, I started writing very seriously and started six books. I never finished any of those writing projects. Now that my kids are graduated from high school and in college, I'm working hard at writing again.

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