There is a story circulating on social media that goes something like this …
An attractive woman was sitting at a restaurant, waiting for her food to be brought to her table. A man stands over the chair across from her and asks, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing by yourself? Where’s the boyfriend foolish enough to leave you alone?” The woman smiles and says she just fine, thanks, but that doesn’t sink in.
He pulls out the chair and offers himself as a dinner companion, continuing to remark on her appearance and how she needs company. The woman is increasingly flustered, and while trying to be polite, clearly wants him to go away.
Suddenly another woman appears, throws her arms around the woman at the table, and cries, “Claire! There you are! I’ve been looking all over this place for you!” Under the guise of kissing her “companion” on the cheek, she whispers “Are you ok?”
The story goes on to encourage women to be aware and alert in social situations, ready to step in and distract an aggressive intruder. But I see this as a metaphor for our responsibility as people of Christ.
Every day, we see people who may be in trouble. The mom removing what seem to be essential items from the checkout line. The young man sitting stooped and alone at the back of the church. The dad trying to wrangle three kids, a cart and a shopping list at the hardware store. The friend whose eyes tear up for no reason.
We don’t really know if there is a problem. Should we get involved? Should we put ourselves out there, risk embarrassment or, worse yet, entanglement in a problem that is clearly none of our business?
Catherine of Siena said, “Do not be silent through fear. It is silence that kills.”
As people of Christ, it’s our responsibility to be alert to the signals of need … because sometimes, that’s all we see. Some people are too proud, too distressed, or too afraid to ask for help – or maybe, they don’t even see the problem themselves.
Let us look with the eyes of Christ to see their need, reaching beyond our fear to wrap our arms around that person and to ask, “Are you ok?”