It was a hot and sticky day, and we were taking our two little ones home from a day at London Zoo. We live in London, but the trip still takes one hour and fifteen minutes and by the time we were on train-change number two, my toddler was just about done with it all. As we pulled into Canada Water station, she got that look on her face and when the doors opened, I was half-carrying her off through the crowd waiting to get on.
I reached the wall of the platform and stopped and she quickly took up a loud howl of frustration mixed with exhaustion–that noise which strikes terror into the hearts of all toddler mamas. I knelt down next to her on the dirty floor, holding her arms, trying to get her to pause her wailing for the tiniest second so that I could regain some control of the situation.
But the howling only increased, tears streaming from her screwed up eyes, and as I contemplated leaving her there to find her own way home, I must have looked as desperate as I felt. Until suddenly there was a cheery loud voice cutting through the noise above us.
“Would you like the yellow smiley face sticker or the green one?” it asked chirpily, and Kaya stopped mid-wail at this unexpected interruption. I looked up to see a middle-aged woman in her fluorescent orange jacket and standard-issue clunky Underground worker shoes. She smiled broadly at us and held out the stickers to Kaya, who surveyed them seriously before picking the yellow one.
“And what about this pink dinosaur too?” my angel-disguised-as-an-Underground-employee asked. Kaya grinned shyly and I thanked her profusely before she walked off along the platform, the next train already sliding slowly along the busy platform.
My husband, negotiating the baby and double buggy behind me, snapped a photo as she walked away. I’ve not been able to get her off my mind these past few days.
The London Underground is unlikely to be a very easy place to work. You’re dealing with frustrated commuters made late for their meeting by yet another train breakdown, or clueless tourists who want to get to Buckingham Palace, but don’t speak a word of English to help them get there.
And yet this woman gets up in the morning, puts on those ugly-looking standard shoes and then pops a handful of stickers in her jacket pocket. Just in case.
Just in case she meets a family like ours, where an overwhelmed Mama or Daddy needs the distraction of a pink dinosaur sticker to help them get through this moment.
She’s been on my mind because this season of my life feels like hard work a lot of days. That’s partly because I have a baby and a little girl who just turned two to care for. It’s partly because I still feel new to this city nearly eleven months after moving here. It’s partly because I lack the time or space to do many of the things which usually bring me energy, like cook or write or decorate.
Whatever the reason, I am lacking the energy to give much of myself these days. I feel dried up, like an empty spring. And yet, maybe there’s still enough margin for a handful of stickers. What would it look like for me to be able to offer my own pink dinosaurs during my day? Those little, seemingly trivial actions that can transform someone else’s experience in that moment?
In this season where morning quiet times are a long-forgotten luxury, and I haven’t read a devotional let alone a book of theology in months, I’ve been trying to practice letting God surprise me. And when I have the eyes to see, God shows up everywhere. That day of the zoo, God was a handful of stickers in the palm of a kind woman.
And what if sharing God with the people around me was as simple as that? To look at what is in my palm, the small insignificant thing I have to offer—my pink dinosaur, my own three fishes and five bread rolls—and see how it can become something extraordinary if I just have the faith to offer it up.
This post originally appeared on She Loves. That day, I saw God in a handful of stickers. The next day, it was the woman who gave my little girl a strawberry from her fruit salad after she’d bumped her head on the pushchair. This week it’s been multiple people who have fetched me ice packs and glasses of water and reminded me to take my pills, friends who have fed my baby, entertained my daughter, and done the washing up without asking.
Give me eyes to see you. It is becoming the prayer of my life. Where have you seen God show up in unexpected places or people recently?