I was grocery shopping yesterday with my two toddlers in tow. As we rounded the corner into the produce section, I saw her . . . an adorable older woman with no cart, no basket, just a few items in her hand including a bunch of three bananas.
Just three. I didn’t even know you could get banana bunches that small. At our house we buy the biggest banana bunch we can find and then a back up second bunch that’s green so we have fruit after the first bunch is quickly devoured. But, my house is full of people. With two kids and a husband and frequent visits from friends, there are always hungry mouths to feed. But this sweet lady only needed three bananas. I think it is because she is lonely.
I know it’s possible that she was only making a quick grocery run or that she isn’t crazy about bananas, but that’s not what the Holy Spirit said to my heart. God used those three bananas to remind me of the blessings that come with my full house and to prompt me to respond to the loneliness that is all around me during this Advent season. Specifically, He brought to mind this verse:
“God sets the lonely in families” (Ps. 68:6a).
God sees the plight of the lonely, and He has a provision for them. But here’s the thing . . . we “families” need to be willing to have the lonely placed with us. Instead, too often during the holidays we guard our “family time” as a sacred cow.
I know that being with our families is a rare treat when we all seem to be living at warp speed, but have you ever considered how including someone who is lonely, but may not share your DNA, might enhance your Christmas celebrations? Is it possible that by inviting those without family and friends to your holiday table for food and friendship you are participating in God’s provision for them?
I would imagine loneliness is one of the emotions Mary and Joseph felt on that very first Christmas. They couldn’t find a family to take them in, to feed them, to show them hospitality, or to offer the gift of connection. And so, they spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day by themselves (except for those smelly manger animals). How would a family have been blessed if they had said, come join us, eat our food, share our fellowship? They would have had front row seats to the arrival of the Savior. It’s a possibility that is hard for me to wrap my head around.
Which brings me back to the sweet lady with the three bananas. What blessings would have been in store for me if I had included her in my day? What could be the impact if I looked for others to reach out to and include in our celebrations this Christmas? What would happen if I told God that we wanted to be a family He set the lonely in during this special time of year?
I’m going to find out, and I hope you will join me. Will you shift your visions of Christmas away from protecting time with your family at all costs and instead look for the lonely to include in your celebrations? You might start by striking up a conversation about bananas in the produce aisle.