Unexpected Faith-Sharing in the Food Court

1Peter3:15

Image credit: St. Augustine’s Neutral Bay

It all started with an old coffee grinder that broke during the Saturday morning routine. After checking off the list a long-standing business task, the Hubby and I headed over to the Galleria to catch a sale.

At Macy’s we did a bit more shopping damage than Mike had planned (ok, so maybe I had a couple of things in mind that were all well-deserved tax return investments). Once we secured our new coffee grinder and sweetly discounted King-sized bedding purchases, we were well past the point of digesting the morning whole-grained PB&J English muffin. So I went ahead to scout out the “food court” options as Mike dropped off our large bags back at the car.

I was an easy target — not wanting to get greased or carbed down — the Japanese sample man lured me in with his tooth-picked taste of chicken teriyaki and a $1.00 off coupon. Shaky, Mike opted for the buffet-style food line. As I waited for my Bento box, he went to find us a place to sit amidst the crowded small outdoor seating area.

Somehow I walked past him as he typed away on his iPad and I scanned the tables for him. I circled back and saw him sitting at the other end of a table with an African-American woman eating Orange Chicken out of a to-go styrofoam box.

I sat down, we said a blessing over the food, and began eating. I think I started the conversation with her by making some food-related comment. I quickly gathered that our nearby table mate was open to conversing with strangers. As we continued to eat, I felt that familiar “Holy-Spirit tug” to speak more with her. We easily fell deeper into a conversation to discuss occupations, different cultures, where we were from, and the like.

A teacher originally from Chicago, our new friend whom I’ll call Sheila, shared that she had been recruited a number of years ago to come down to teach in Texas. It’s always interesting to talk to another Mid-Western transplant about their experiences in DFW area. Soon, we began to speak about relationships, and she began to open up a bit about the man she was dating.

Since Mike and I had a pretty quick eHarmony romance – including courtship, engagement, and marriage within about 15-months – it always seems to be an intriguing tale to people who date for many years. As Sheila began to share bits and pieces about her relationship with her boyfriend, it became clear that as woman in her mid-40’s that never had been married and still wanted children, her patience with this 5-year romance was waning.

As we shared our own story, and allowed her to also share hers, her own hang-ups in the relationship began to surface. (H/T: Mental Health degree.)

Sheila grew up with a Bible-based Baptist kind of background, while her boyfriend was Catholic – and just so “happened” to attend St. Ann’s (our Parish!). She really didn’t have much experience with Catholicism, didn’t understand it; yet she wasn’t bashing it either – even in her observations that we were more “quiet” as Mike jokingly pointed over to me as the obviously-not-case-in-point.

As this conversation started to come to a crux, my Hubs interjects, “Let me ask you a question.”

This is always my favorite part of the conversation: When the ultra observant-prayerful-introvert goes in for the kill.

“Do you pray together?”

Sheila began to travel down a long winding path with lots of information about spiritual conversations based on movies and such. She even shared a beautiful dream that her boyfriend had of receiving a blessing to marry her from his deceased Mother. But the bottom was that:

  • They really didn’t pray together
  • Neither of them had ever been to worship in the other’s Church
  • She was actually quite surprised by his Catholicism

Two spiritual people are 5-years into a relationship, and have never worshipped together? WOW.

So I suggested that she ask him to come to her Church. And we rolled out the red carpet and invited her to come to our Parish.

Beyond that, there were a number of factors causing some forms of doubt. Thankfully all cited hang-ups were based on an internal struggles to overcome – nothing she said revealed major red flags of being treated her badly or disagreement on the relationship must-haves.

As we began to wind down our probably half-hour conversation, a comment from Sheila blessed me greatly.

“Thank you. This has increased my faith.”

We all recognized it at that moment: Something supernatural happened over a freakin’ Bento box at the Galleria. Honestly, our faith was increased as well, just by being ready to share the reason for the hope that we have in Christ and allowing her to do the same. #mindblown

Have you ever had a deep conversation with someone that you just met that increased your faith? Please share your story in the comments!

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