Picture a dark night with a cold dampness filling the air. It was my first night in Southampton on the south coast of England. I love coastal cities and since this was where my host couple met 27 years ago, and my book title originated, I wanted to come for some inspiration. I had been texting my sister about how nice it would be to have some hugs from family and friends. Two months away from home and I was missing the familiar. I was trying to go beyond how I felt and be thankful for yet another new city to explore, but I couldn’t help but still feel lonely.
Not being one to sit still when there is a new city to explore, I set my sites (after hiding out in the mall from the rain for a couple hours!) on the water to see if perhaps I could get some night shots of the sailboats.
I was walking down high street, minding my own business, when this young girl stepped out of a convenience store crying and wiping her eyes. She wore a bright yellow coat. Petite. Maybe 20. She was obviously troubled. One side of me said, “If there’s some guy who just hurt her I’m gonna pelt him!” And one side asked, “I wonder if she needs help?” And my rational side said, “Lani, it’s none of your business, keep walking.”
Before any thought could formulate voice I found myself saying, “Are you okay?” Which she clearly was NOT.
Girl, “No, not really. Rather rubbish.”
“Is there anything I can do?” I offered. You know, that question that we usually respond ‘fine’ to when we all know there’s something we really want or need in that moment but want to appear strong, so we say ‘fine’. But this girl had the gutsy nerve to ask for what she needed.
“Ah, a snuggle would be alright.”
Now I’m not one to hug strangers. When I meet you, I don’t care if you are someone else’s lifelong friend… I don’t normally share that physical space with someone until it’s been earned and learned. This night however, this young girl clearly needed some love.
So, I gave her a hug and asked again if she was okay. She said she’d be fine and was off into the night.
As I walked down to the water in the cool of the night, I realized that just moments earlier I had been whinging about wanting a hug. Feeling a bit sorry for myself.
And what did God send? A sister of humanity who needed some love, in the form of a hug. I have no idea if that hug solved her problem on that night. Or if she continued to cry. But somehow, God masterfully weaved our stories together to give us both what we needed. And in turn, it showed me a deeper layer of my Heavenly Father’s heart.
You know, sometimes, when we least expect it, but have asked God for it countless times, He comes. He answers.
For me, sometimes I just need to get on a bus, train or plane and see a new place. Stand in awe for a moment. Learn something new. Because otherwise I can stagnate in sameness and I never learn or grow to the new level of what God wants for me.
Do you ever feel that? Like you just need an answer from God? Well perhaps you need to go do something or see something you’ve never seen before.
Because before there was the Sistine Chapel, electricity…. or a hug from heaven …. there was a need and an idea. You may be in pre-masterpiece mode. Don’t give up. Keep asking. Because you may find yourself in a new a place or new experience on a rainy night and God suddenly shows up and brings before you a need. And that need will be the nighttime answer. For you, and perhaps for someone else.