I took a break from writing yesterday and wound up in the mall. I know, so out of character for me but I was on a mission. In one particular small store, I noticed the manager was a bit flustered. As I struck up a conversation with him (surprised, aren’t you? haha), he told me about a woman who frequents all the stores in the mall. She always gives them a hard time and demands things they simply cannot give her.
When I told him I wanted to meet her, he gave me a description of her and I set off through the mall in search of the hot headed woman. I heard her before I saw her. She was having a meltdown in the candy store. I stood outside observing her tirade for several moments she walked out in a huff. It appears the manager would not allow her to take home a sample of every candy in the jars. There were dozens.
I slid into step with her as she marched to the next store. “How long were you abused?” I asked her as we walked.
She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me with HUGE eyes. “I know you’re not talking to me.” She put her hands on her wide hips, her eyes narrowed as she pierced her lips.
I took a deep breath and tried not to shake. “You’ve learned to survive quite well. I don’t think I would have thought to have a meltdown in a candy store. Congratulations on learning to live life in spite of your abuse.”
There are moments when a pregnant pause is a good thing. It adds effect and makes the audience grave the next thing. In my case, I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to what the next thing could be. At best, a tongue lashing would come. She was also quite capable of beating me to a pulp. But I knew she was hurting because only hurting people intentionally hurt other people.
Slowly her hands dropped to her sides and her face fell into sadness. “How did you know?”
For the next thirty minutes, Shaniqua told me about her stepfather’s daily abuse. Her mother had been paralyzed by the fear and told her to just do what the abuser said. That way they would have a roof over their heads and he would not hurt them.
I introduced her to life beyond survival and assured her it was within her reach. Shaniqua admitted she was angry, bitter and took it out in everyone she could. Interestingly, she came to the mall to feel safe. She screamed at everyone so she could be in control.
I put her in touch with some resources that could help her overcome and cope with her past. She grabbed me in a bear hug, grateful that I’d stopped her. I was offering thanks that she wasn’t crushing my bones in anger.
As I walked back out to the parking lot, I was reminded that there is always a reason behind how human beings behave. Always. If we can take a moment to look beyond the meltdown in the candy store, we will understand–and even diffuse–the anger. We just might be able to help someone overcome.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you been in a situation where God used you to make a difference? Share it here!