To the lady at Panera Bread

To the lady at Panera Bread,

I just want you to know you were seen this morning. I sat at the table across from you and your two girls. Taking a break form working on my thesis, I must admit you caught my eye.

I watched you, how your girls were trying to get your attention and you didn’t even bother to look up from your phone. I started to feel angry… angry for them. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen- and still no change. It made me furious. “Cant’ you see they are trying to talk with you? They need your eyes,” I wanted to shout. But, you couldn’t hear my silent screams; so on you went, flicking your finger up and down and over your phone.

The girls started bickering a little and you kept on- flick- flick- slide- swipe. One even tried to grab your arm to get your attention and you shrugged her off. Seriously, that’s just wrong.

I was mesmerized watching you all, though you wouldn’t have noticed. Their eyes were on you and your eyes were attached to what ever danced in front of your eyes. They were trying to connect with you and you didn’t bother to look up.

Do you know what message you are sending to them when you can’t even grant them your eyes? It tells them they are not worth your time. When you don’t look up it speaks to them, that they are not worthy or valuable.

And as I sat there stewing, something happened. I saw myself. In that moment, I remembered that I, too, did not have this mom-thing down and that yes, there have been times that my children demanded my eyes and I didn’t pulled away from an email or post.

And then ever so gently, God reminded me that I don’t know you. I don’t know your story. I don’t know what transpired early this morning or what hardships you might be facing. I have no way of knowing if you were cared for as a child and if loving eyes were cast upon you. What if you were never shown that you were lovable and had value. Often, we cannot give what we didn’t receive.

You see, dear sister, what this world truly needs is a kind hand a soft look towards one another. Isn’t that what Christ would do; wouldn’t he beckon us to look past what our eyes can see down to the heart?

I owe you an apology for a reaction you never saw, thoughts you never heard.  I judged you not knowing who you are and filled in your life without knowing the facts.We all have a story and when we omit what we can’t see- what we don’t know- we are getting only a fraction of the tale. I can’t say that I liked the way you treated them. Nope, I can’t make that go away, but my perspective shifted.

So, rather than accuse you of wrong doing, I will use what I saw today as a reminder to stop and think, to be kind towards those I do not know rather than judge them by what my eyes see. I will use what I saw as a reminder that my children need my eyes today.

Alisa

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