I had barely made my way around the counter when I saw her.
The moment I established eye contact, a huge smile spread across her face. As the corners of her mouth curved upward to form a lopsided grin, her eyes came alive and danced with light. I smiled back and asked, “Is there anything I can help you with today?”
In an excited, childlike tone, she exclaimed, “My name is Didi!” I watched as she fumbled around in her pocket. After a few seconds, the search ended, and she presented me with a tube of lipstick. “I need one of these. Do you have one of these? I need a new one of these.”
As I took the lipstick from her dirty hands, I knew my coworkers were staring my way. It was not difficult to conclude what they were thinking. After all, Didi was not our typical customer. Her clothes were slightly wrinkled. Neither of her two shirts was tucked in, and no two articles of clothing even remotely matched. Over her blonde, unruly hair she wore a blue baseball hat. Curls peeked from beneath the hat, framing her face.
Although she must have been in her mid-twenties, she acted as if she were a young child. The faces of my coworkers communicated relief in being spared the chore of assisting her, while also revealing the humor they found in watching me take on the challenge.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable, I answered, “yes, we have that brand. They’re right back here.” As I led Didi to the back of the store, she walked steadily beside me and asked, “What’s your name?”
Once again I smiled and answered, “My name is Ashleigh.”
“Ashleigh,” she repeated. “That’s a pretty name, Ashleigh. You’re nice, Ashleigh.”
I was unsure how to react to Didi. Politely, I replied, “Thank you.”
Upon reaching the back of the store, I attempted to subtly reclaim a portion of my personal space. Moving slightly to the left, I examined the lipstick Didi had handed me earlier. As I focused my attention on it, the temptation to run overwhelmed me. And why not leave her there? After all, there was nothing wrong with allowing her to look for the correct shade. I had shown her where to look and had been friendly. Why should I stick around and to continue to feel uncomfortable? Didi would be fine on her own. How hard could it be to match a lipstick shade?
Nearly convinced by my reasoning, I opened my mouth to excuse myself. Before I could form the words, conviction washed over me. Deep down I knew I did not have a good excuse to walk away. Yes, I could justify my reasoning, probably well enough to convince both myself and others. But I realized that no line of excuse or justifications would make it right.
I couldn’t simply walk away and leave Didi to search for the lipstick on her own. I was basing my decision to leave Didi on what I saw – a woman who was less than what the world said she should be. I had failed to view Didi through the eyes of Jesus. When Jesus looked at Didi, he didn’t see someone of little value or see an uncomfortable situation that he couldn’t wait to escape.
I suddenly recalled stories in the gospels where Jesus reached out to and loved those who society rejected and counted as worthless. He loved the beggar and the blind man. He embraced the tax collector and the harlot. He extended healing to the lame and the leper. Jesus recognized and treated each individual as a precious, priceless soul.
It didn’t take long for me to locate the correct shade, Removing it from the shelf, I handed the tube to Didi. “Here you go. This is the one.”
Excitedly, Didi took the tube from my hands and asked, “This is the right one?”
“Yes, this one will look pretty,” I answered as I led Didi to the front of the store. As I reached the counter, I knew my coworkers were still watching me. Yet, this time I was not bothered by their expressions. I saw Didi through new eyes. I no longer focused on her dirty hands or less-than-perfect attire. I saw Didi as I believe Jesus would, as someone made in the image of God.
After I rang up her purchase, Didi smiled at me and said, “Ashleigh, you’re sweet.”
I simply smiled back, knowing that, because of Didi, I would now view my world just a little bit differently.
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