Years ago I was at the mall waiting for the elevator from the interior of the shopping center to the parking garage. As I stood there, a woman and (I assume) her daughter, who looked about 8, came up to wait with me. The woman was pinching the girls arm and berating her. She spoke in heavily accented English but even I could understand her vicious words. Things like: you are so stupid, ugly girl, idiot. I could tell that this was not the first time the way only another victim could understand, the girl was stoic. Not moving – except when she was pushed, not showing the emotion I could feel emanating off of her, knowing it would only fuel the hateful fire of words and brutal pinches.
The elevator arrived, and we all got in, the woman continued her abuse, not a thought or care to the witness I was. In confined quarters, she switched to Spanish, but even I knew she was not using kind words, pinche bendeja stupido, feya gorda, and so on. My blood was boiling, I wanted to yank the girl from her, I wanted to hit the woman and shake her as violently as she was doing to the child. I glared at the woman and realized that fighting her would be useless. The anger I felt was nothing compared to the demon inside of her but I knew I had to do something, anything, in the few moments I had. My soul would not let me just walk away. Instead, I bent to the girl and quickly gave her a message, “This is not your fault. This will not last forever. Someday you will be free of her and she will not be able to hurt you anymore. Just hang on till that day. You are loved.” Her eyes widened at the acknowledgment of her pain, her struggle, her self. The doors opened and I had to leave her.
I hope that those words had an impact that day, I know that God was using me as an instrument of peace, hope and love. I think of her often, sending prayers and love out into the Universe for her. We are all presented with opportunities to serve those around us, even if just for a few moments on the elevator.