I waited in the Express lane, behind an overdone woman with red lipstick and hot pink pants. She was talking on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the woman behind the counter, struggling to scan three cases of bottled water.
As a former cashier, I can tell you how rude it can be when someone is on their phone. Often times I felt completely invisible.
I guarantee that's how this woman made Sara feel. Unnoticed. Unimportant. Sara was the Walmart employee working behind the express lane.
Sara had salt and pepper hair, carefully braided down her back. No jewelry or makeup, just a fresh face and stark blue eyes. I couldn't help but notice that she looked young. Like, really young. Not much older than me.
Normally I wouldn't be so observant, but I was intrigued by her gray hair that framed her perfect porcelain skin.
As the overdone woman grabbed her groceries, I walked forward and acknowledged Sara by name. Seeing her up close, it was clear that she was young. Definitely under 30. She raised her head to say hello, and quickly brought her eyes back to the checkout.
I complimented her french braid -you could tell it was uncomfortable for her to respond. Had anyone complimented her that day? That week? That month? Seeing her response made me wish I remembered to acknowledge others more often.
Sara uncomfortably looked up at me and smiled to say thank you.
That's when I noticed her two front teeth were missing.
Later today I thought about Sara on my drive home from Columbia.
I thought about the time I severely chipped my two front teeth when I was 9, diving into a pool at swim practice. I could stick my tongue straight through a gaping hole in the front of my mouth. I cried on the way to the dentist wondering if I would look that way forever.
They put bonding on my teeth to hide the damage. When I turned 18, they were permanently covered with porcelain caps, designed by what I like to call "dental artists". The color and shape match so perfectly, I have yet to be asked if my two front teeth are fake.
My parents cared to correct the damage. They spent time and money to help 9 year old me feel beautiful and confident.
What did I do to deserve that? Why would God allow me to be born into a family with good insurance and the ability to pay for expensive dental work, yet leave Sara, most likely, to fend for herself?
I question the way God works often. Isaiah 55:8 comes to mind. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."
I think He uses people like Sara in my life to remind me of my blessings. To remind me that I am not entitled to a certain standard of life. To soften my heart to those around me. To be generous with my words and my gifts.
Sara. The Walmart cashier with youthful skin and crystal blue eyes. You are beautiful and loved, with or without your two front teeth. I really hope you know that.