I book it out the door, glide past the Bleecker St. hipsters, look at my watch and see that I’m a little behind on my “be there an hour early” plan. It’s NYU graduation day and I need to get a good spot to see my girls throw their caps!
I run down the stairs into the subway, just in time for the B train doors to open. I am instantly surrounded. Good ol’ New York City. Never a dull moment or an open spot. I squeeze my way to the center of the car desperately looking for a short person rail to hold on to. By this point I’ve learned that if I’m left holding on to the top rail, I’m donezo.
Just as I’m ready to give up and try the surf stance, a spot opens! YES. I knew today was going to be good day! I plop down and plan to enjoy the 20 minute ride to Rockefeller Center.
As I begin to survey my surroundings, something sparkly catches my eye. The stranger sitting next to me is sporting giant fake nails, with white french tips and lots of sparkle. My first thought is, “Those are bold, impressive, and tons of fun. This girl is rockin and livin life on the edge.”
Funny enough, I turn to look at their owner and I see the cutest old lady in all of the land. She must have been at least 80 years old, snow white hair, and a cute (“Up” like) husband to match. Whatever cool points I had given her before, have now skyrocketed. She gave off this gentle, yet crazy fun vibe and all I could do was smile!
As I examined the whole picture, I knew I needed to give an honest compliment! She was truly a piece of New York pie! I looked at her nails, then to her face, then back to her nails. It was strange, I was so full of appreciation for this woman without really knowing anything about her or her story. Not because she had dauntless nails or because she had won the cutest couple award in my mind, but because God placed her next to me and allowed me to sit still enough to see her beauty, her truth, and her goodness. It was a Holy Spirit moment because I felt as if I knew her, as if she were a friend.
But isn’t it funny how after we have those moments of clarity, we are almost always hit with fear?
I started to second guess myself. “Emily, you’re so dang weird. Don’t say anything! You’ll just freak her out. She really doesn’t need to hear your opinion. She might even take it offensively!” So in that moment of fear, I decided to keep my mouth shut.
Something I learned over and over again this year… Don’t act out of fear. Fear is not of God.
Right as I decided to forgo her compliment, I KID YOU NOT, she turned to her husband, put her hands out in front of her, and with a thick Brooklyn accent laced with pure defeat said, “No one noticed.”
My heart sank as she went on, “I guess no one liked them… No one said anything! Maybe I need to get a brighter color next time? What’s wrong with them, Bob? No one noticed.”
LIES, DEAR, SWEET LADY. LIES! I noticed!! By this point, nearly all of me had sank to the ground. I can’t believe I didn’t say something. An amazing opportunity to brighten this woman’s day… MISSED. Emily! What in the actual heck!?!
I think this happens to us all, time and time again. No, I’m not saying everyone misses the perfect moment to compliment nails, but we often miss opportunities to lift others up. There is so much we could be speaking truly and beautifully about. We must fight the fear of looking foolish! There is nothing foolish about letting yourself act out of selfless love.
As the subway rolled into Rockefeller Center, I decided that I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by. It’s never too late to love, if even in the smallest of ways.
“Your nails are BEAUTIFUL, ma’am! Just brilliant!”, I said as I awkwardly stumbled out. And her smile in that moment was an NYC face that I’ll never, ever, forget.