So, I cried in Starbucks today. It’s not what you think. They didn’t get my order wrong. (I would understand if they did. It’s one of those confusing, custom drinks that requires about 3 minutes to explain and at least a couple of eye-rolls from the person in line behind me. Sigh.)
My tears weren’t even for the current struggles pressing hard on my heart. Instead, I watched as an irate woman verbally berated the fresh-faced young barista with long blonde braids who had just served me, and others, so cheerfully on this busy morning when everyone in town wanted coffee at exactly the same time.
I was waiting for my drink order and couldn’t miss the effect of the withering words on braid-girl as she tried in vain to appease the angry customer. I cringed as she headed to the back room, blinking back tears, as hornet-woman huffed her way out the glass doors vowing never to return.
As I stepped up to retrieve my coffee order, I spoke to the coworker of braid-girl. “I just saw what happened and I’m so sorry. I’m visiting from out of town and have been occasionally popping into this place for the past few days. You have one of the sweetest group of workers here…really. And I visit a LOT of Starbucks stores. Everyone has been so kind and friendly.” (I didn’t explain how much I‘d been needing ‘kind and friendly.’)
Then it happened. Without any warning, tears filled my own eyes as I continued. “Please tell your friend that she’s doing a great job and her warm smile brightened my day this morning. It hurt my heart to see her insulted when she was doing her best. Ummm…I don’t know why I’m crying but keep up the good work, guys. It matters and I’m really grateful for your excellent service.”
The co-worker thanked me with a big smile of her own and promised to pass along my words to braid-girl who was still out of sight in the back room.
I took my drink and found this little spot to spend time with Jesus and the Word. As I read Psalm 56:8 it struck me again how much our tears matter to God.
I wonder if perhaps the tears we shed for someone else’s pain is indeed the purest liquid on earth. I think God gently, carefully gathers up all the salty droplets that run from the eyes of those weeping for abandoned and abused children, for friends who are valiantly battling cancer, for the broken-hearts of loved ones struggling through a divorce or that neighbor facing the loss of a job.
I think He counts as pure and precious, the tears that flow for others who are living with the acid effects of racism and war and poverty.
And maybe even those tears that slip out on behalf of an embarassed and discouraged barista with braids in a crowded Starbucks on an ordinary Wednesday morning.
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