It was a moment I couldn't let by me.
I met Jan when the girls were in kindergarten. They attended an after school program and she was one of the teachers. They loved going and I was thrilled they were happy to spend their hours after school there. Jan made their time special and fun.
Due to our move, we transferred our girls to a new school and a new after school program. Our daily hellos with Jan ended. However, strange as it may be, we were in need of a new hair cutter. Through a conversation with my girls, I learned that Jan also cut hair.
So, we no longer see Jan after school, but now every couple months when we need our hair cut. We chat about the girls' old school, friends, and our connection with Willow Creek Church. She occasionally visited, but this connection led to more conversations about church and God.
Fast forward two years. We were due for another cut, so I sent a text looking for a time over the long weekend.
I was shocked at her reply. She was in a dark season: Her son almost lost his life and her husband left her.
I sat and wondered: What could I do for her? How can I make the pain go away? What could I say? What could I do? For days, I thought and pondered and prayed.
Saturday arrived, the day of our haircut appointments. I got dressed for the day and the last accessory I placed around my neck was my "Giving Key" necklace with the word LOVE engraved on it.
I heard the whisper. I felt the nudge. But could I? Don't I still need my one little word wrapped around my neck to remind me that I need to love myself? I grabbed the bag the key was packaged in, just in case.
We arrived at Jan's house and I hugged her tight. She listened to our stories and updates and then led into her stories. Heartbreaking. I listened. That's all I could do. That's all she needed. Someone right now to listen. Her son survived and is doing amazing. Her relationship with her husband remains strained. Life is different.
As I was getting my purse to pay her, I saw the "Giving Key" bag with the explanation. The moment felt right.
"Jan, I have something to give you. I try and live by a one little word, instead of resolutions, for the year. My one little word this year is LOVE. I also have a key with this word on it as my reminder every day to love myself and others. This key is a "Giving Key." When I believe someone needs this word more than me, I pass it on. And right now I want you to feel love because you are loved."
Jan had tears streaming down her face. She jumped up and hugged me and whispered in my ear, "I feel more love than you will ever know. Thank you. I will never forget this."
It's bittersweet to let go of my word ... but it felt so, so right giving away love.