Breakfast at The Pancake House turned out to be a special gift and it wasn’t the pancakes. A young, smiling waitress escorted us to a table near where three older men were seated. Obviously retired, the men were discussing everything from their football picks of the week to the state of the union. The waitress was attentive, pleasant and quickly brought us freshly brewed coffee and took our order. As we sat enjoying the coffee we couldn’t help but overhear as the three men talked with the waitress about her life. It was obvious that they were regulars and that she had often waited on them.
They asked about how she was doing and in answering she shared that she was enjoying being in the new apartment near the State College. She stated that it was time for her to be on her own as she had gone through the process of rehab, half-way house, and manager of the half-way house. This was the next step. Was she okay, one of the men asked? She smiled and said “Yes”. Another asked how her classes were going. She said she had to take this semester off because of the added expenses of an apartment and hoped to get caught up and save enough to return to school the following semester. They applauded how well she was doing and encouraged her to continue with her education. They genuinely seemed to care about the waitress. There was easy banter between them.
Then she told them about her hectic and frantic morning. It seemed her car refused to start and after a few desperate phone calls to friends she was forced to either call in “sick” from work or take a $30.00 cab ride. She took the cab and made it to work in time to open that morning. She hoped to get a ride back home that evening, but so far there were no takers. One of the gents said she needed a bike to which she replied that she had one but it was still at the half-way house. During this whole time, she never groused or grumbled, merely stated the events as they had unfolded. She cleared some of their dishes away and continued with her job at other stations including ours.
Sometime later, she nervously approached these same men and said she needed to ask for a big favor. Would one of them be driving past this way in the late afternoon and be willing to drive her home? “As a matter of fact”, one of them said, “ I need to be back this way around 5 and I could take you back to your apartment.” Another gentleman suggested that they pick up the bike from the half-way house and they all nodded in agreement. The young waitress stood there with tears in her eyes and a quiver in her voice as she profusely thanked the three gentlemen for their willingness to help.
As Thad and I ate our breakfast we felt as if we had witnessed God working through these three men encouraging this young soul, that despite her plethora of difficult events, she was worthy of care. There was no prejudice, no scorn, rather hope, and encouragement to persevere.
We felt God led us to The Pancake House for several reasons. To be reminded that people can heal and grow into what God is calling them to be; to witness people reaching out to people in need and to join in the joy of answering God’s call to brighten someone’s day.
Giving is contagious and Thad and I wanted to add to it. When the waitress presented the check to Thad, he explained that we could not help but overhear her conversation with the gentlemen and we wanted to help as well. Thad gave her the money for the breakfast with tip plus the cost of the morning’s cab ride. She was amazed.
But it was us who were amazed. Amazed at how this young woman had spiraled down and climbed out of the depths we’ve never known and was now helping others with their addictions. Amazed at how hard she was working to make her way back to living a full and productive life through college and work. Amazed at how hard she worked to show up on time, put a smile on her face and do her job with disregard to her plight but with dedication to her work. Many of us, with much easier lives, would have sported an attitude over less. We encouraged her to remain healthy, stay in school and hoped this would help in some small way with her finances. She kept thanking us for our kindness and telling us how thankful she felt. But it was us who were thankful.
We were thankful to have been a witness to three men who cared enough to help someone outside their circle of life – who did not see a junkie but a child of God. We were thankful that God works through us to encourage others, and who gives hope for a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We were thankful for God’s nudge and instruction to help. We were thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in her day. And most importantly, we were thankful that our gifts and actions bring glory to God, our Father.
Colossians 3:12 (NIV)2 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
The Lord said to Abram, “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” – Genesis 12:2 (NRSV)