When my first baby was born, every day, at some point, I would sing to him “You are my Sunshine” and tears would well up in my eyes as I held my little blue bundle that I had dreamed of all my life.
As more kids came along, I would sing the same song to them often. I don’t know why but the song took a place in our hearts. As they got older, they would sing it along with me as we cuddled close in their beds at night.
One day, not too long ago, I ran into Ulta Beauty to pick up a mascara. My 4 year old son was with me so that meant no browsing around – because that would be cause for disaster with a pre-schooler – so I ran in, held his hand tight, grabbed the mascara, and went straight to the counter to check out. There were a few people in line ahead of us so, as we waited, my son decided to keep running out of line towards the brightly colored cosmetics he saw in front of him. After a few chases, I decided to pick him up and hold him. He was super wiggly all over the place as I tried to stand still.
As I was trying to contain him, two 20-something girls wandered into the line behind us and were glancing at the mini-sized travel products they offer near the registers. They were both beautiful. Clear skin. Pretty tans. Light makeup. Shiny hair. And slim bodies adorned with cute outfits. I immediately felt awkward next to them and a little out of place as I tried to tame this apparently boy-turned-monkey-climbing animal of a son in my arms. While they were chatting, my son was moving so much to get down from me that I finally exclaimed to him, “Hey, let’s sing!”
He settled down as we began to sing “You are my Sunshine.” I would sing one line and he, in his sweet little 4-year-old voice, would sing the next line.
“You are my Sunshine.
My only Sunshine.
You make me happy.
When skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear.
How much I love you.
Please don’t take my Sunshine away.”
He had calmed down and I was relieved until I glanced behind me and one of the 20 year old girls was crying while the other girl held her close. I stood dumbfounded for a minute, unsure what to do. Did our little song make her cry? I glanced at the girl who was hugging her and whispered, “I’m so sorry” and she replied, “It’s okay. It just brought up some memories for her.”
The crying girl, through her tears, looked up at me and stared at my son, “It was adorable. He was adorable.” And then a refresh of tears came.
The cashier called me up to pay for my forgotten-about mascara at the register so I walked away from the girls hugging each other but it felt wrong to do so. As I paid for my purchase, the two girls were called forward to the register too. I glanced over at them to make sure they were okay. The crying girl was still brushing away tears while her friend rubbed her back. The crying girl caught me looking at her and just said, “My Grandma would sing me that song.” Then fresh tears came and her friend hugged her again.
I paid for my purchase, grabbed my son’s hand and gave one last look to the girls before I left. Unsure what to say or do, I just gave them a look of sympathy and nodded before I left the store.
As we walked to the car, I picked up my son again and held him close. “I love you baby,” I whispered and kissed his chubby cheek before I buckled him in.
I got into the car and turned to drive away. As I passed Ulta, I saw the 2 girls standing in front of the store hugging. I stared at them as we drove away feeling sad and heartbroken for these strangers.
I still have no idea what made the girl cry. I’m guessing her grandma had passed away recently but I don’t know for sure. But clearly something from the song had been in her heart to stir up her emotions. Something had happened in her life to make her grieve that morning in Ulta.
I tell you this whole story to say we have no idea what people are facing or feeling or dealing with. We have no idea why they say or act or do things good or bad. We are all just people. Facing a really hard life most days. There is good and beauty and love in this world but we all have a hard life at some point.
All I know is I want to be the good and beauty and love and compassion they see even if they don’t know me. I fail a lot at that. Most days I fail at it all. But I want the people God brings into my life, strangers or loved ones, to know they are loved and cared about and wanted. I pray God will work on our hearts to give us greater compassion. It’s truly what every single person you see walking around today needs: His compassion. I encourage you today, be someone’s sunshine.
I will probably never see those girls again. But I pray somehow in the midst of the tears, they knew someone cared.