My sister visited me in March and gifted me this really cool red purse. It has a closure mechanism that's more like a mouse trap than a snap, so I get comments and compliments on it, every time I'm out and about. It is a fun connection to my sister because I get to tell everyone who comments that it was a gift from her. The purse itself also has a good story, because of the unusual way she acquired it during her time in Ecuador. But to be concise, I'll have to leave that out.
Within the first week of having the purse, I was at the Goodwill looking for a blender for a church craft project when a charming, laughing voice came out of no where, "Where did you GET THAT purse?!"
Before I could even determine the direction from which the voice had come, or that the exclamation was, indeed, about the purse, a very joyful, very extroverted woman was in my personal space, tugging the purse off my arm, marveling excitedly about the beautiful color and unusual design.
She was so excited, and I was so overwhelmed. I didn't release the purse to her, of course, because who hands their purse over to a stranger at a store? Even if the stranger is incredibly sweet and joyful and complimentary. But I did try my best to answer her questions:
Where did it come from? A suitcase in Ecuador.
How did I get it? My sister gave it to me.
What brand it is? Fenfeiya.
What is that? I have no idea.
Where do they sell it? I have no idea.
Where have I seen one before? No where. Never.
It was all happening so fast. She was so excited that a purse like mine existed in the world, and I was so...overwhelmed. I offered that she could take a picture of the label and see if she could find out more from there, already knowing that was going to be a dead end.
It is the purse, what more can I say? There is only one in the world. And it is mine. No one else can have one, as far as I know. My sister is a one-of-kind. There's only one her, and she's mine; and therefore so is this purse. The only other answer would be to give her my purse, and I just would not do that; I'd only had it a week.
Fortunately, I was able to get away with my purse. She was really gracious after the picture, grateful I'd suggested it, probably believed she would order the same purse from Amazon that evening, and finally moved on to do her shopping. I finished looking at the housewares and was tempted to take a nap on one of the couches before heading back out to the car. Before I left, I passed her holding up a jacket to herself. It was the same color as the purse. She smiled and asked if she should get the jacket. I said yes, she looks great in that color.
Once I got to the car, I was still processing this interaction. I had fought my inclination to give this woman the purse the whole time in the store. I had already enjoyed it. People kept thinking it was some expensive designer purse (maybe it is, how would I know?) which really isn't my style to carry. Believe it or not, I don't actually like getting this much attention for my accessories. But it's the purse and she's my sister. And I couldn't give it up.
|Yes, we featured "the purse" in a Snap|
Then it occurred to me: she had a phone. I could have offered to pass it on to her later, when I was ready to switch to another purse. Surely I won't keep this purse forever. Nothing said I had to give her the purse today. But I missed it. It was an opportunity to share and I was so caught up in protecting what was mine that it didn't occur to me until it was too late that there might be another answer. For a few weeks, I said a prayer for the excited lady at the Goodwill every time anyone complimented the purse.
Then after worship last weekend there was a taco dinner and my husband was serious about eating tacos, so we stayed. A young gal sat across from us and I overheard her tell her parents how the message had really hit home for her. The pastor had talked about reaching out to others with God's love and not being afraid to offer a friendly invitation to church when the opportunity arises, even if it seems like they'd never come. She lamented that she had actually had a co-worker ask to come to church with her tonight. And she had told them no, she didn't want them to come; picking them up would have been inconvenient or something like that. She said she knew the message wasn't a coincidence and she wished she hadn't missed the opportunity to share her faith with someone else.
I waited for her to finish, so I could apologize for eve's dropping and then tell her how I'd missed opportunities to share the Love, too. And how I hoped to recognize them when they were happening next time...but they were about to close the taco line, so instead I reminded myself not to forget to tell her and went back for a second taco.
The lack of tortillas bred conversation in the taco line and I told myself I had to be mistaken, when from somewhere down the line, a familiar accent, full of joy and enthusiasm began assuring us that they were bringing more tortillas for us. I turned and recognized the woman who loved the purse. It was her. How in the world?
I sheepishly asked if she was the woman I'd met at Goodwill who liked my purse and she rejoiced and started to hug me and said she thought it was me, but was afraid to say anything.
Then I got her number. When I'm done with it, she'll get the purse.
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.