The Art of Loving Strangers

It was actually an ordinary day of running errands. But a whole year earlier, Brenda had planned for this day to stand out for people she would meet along the way. Before setting out, she filled two baskets with 48 packaged gourmet cookies to take along. A simple handwritten note was attached with ribbon to each cellophane-wrapped cookie:

“Happy Valentine’s Day and God Loves You!”

“Last year it was roses instead of cookies,” Brenda explains with a joyous, glowing smile, “but I don’t think roses were really a hit with the men.”

When she got to her first stop—a grocery store pickup for a local food pantry, it was a good thing she had cookies instead of roses, because a bunch of men were dropping off food. Brenda started handing out cookies, and one middle aged man glanced at the tag on the package and then stated that God is no longer around.

“I asked him why he felt that way, and he said he felt like God couldn’t be seen in the world around us.” A few others jumped in with comments and suddenly there was a great discussion.

“It was awesome listening to these men talk about their experience with God while unloading their food, beer and pop. And before I left I got a lot of thank yous and a hug!”

The next person in Brenda’s path was a crossing guard.

“When I handed her a cookie package, she cried and said that this had made her whole day! I listened as she opened up about the tough times her family is going through. She thanked me for listening, and before I left I reminded her that God loves her and her family!”

The next stop was Taco Bell where every employee got a Valentine’s treat.

“I got high fives all around, and one of them thanked me for really seeing her! She told me that so many customers put in their orders while talking on the phone or yell at her if the food isn’t fast enough!”

After Brenda left the counter with her order, she gave cookies to an elderly couple sitting at a table, and they invited her to join them. Soon they were sharing their story, starting with having been born in Turkey. They couldn’t believe that she was giving away Valentine treats—free!

“We had a great conversation about how God is in charge of this wacky world and we don’t have to worry.”

Brenda’s final stop was at Aldi to pick up groceries for her family. There, an elderly man hadn’t gotten a Valentine since his wife had passed away, and Brenda got a little hug and dance!

All through the day God’s love had poured through Brenda to every person she encountered. And you can bet that at the end of that day, many of those individuals had a good news story to share with someone they knew. Brenda herself has a version that sums up her experience: “God is so good!”