In my morning prayer, I always ask God to help me fulfill His purpose for having me open Zoe. I also ask Him to allow Zoe to be successful but for it to be His definition of success and not mine. (And to help me sign on to His definition of success!)
I truly believe that God puts every single person in our lives for a specific purpose. I've had at least 2 incidents at Zoe that have caused me to wonder if I'm here to impact someone's life.
One quiet afternoon in early May, a woman walked into my store. I've heard of people looking "dead inside" but I had never seen anyone who looked that way until I saw this woman. She told me that she had moved here to live with her boyfriend and he had hit her the previous night. She wanted to go back home to Lynchburg but didn't have enough money of her own to get there.
It is possible that she was high or it was all an act. But I've just never seen anyone who looked quite like that. I hugged her, told her that I was sorry, and gave her a small amount of money. She left and I've never seen her again. When I told my mother the story, she got a little annoyed with me. She commented "You can't even take a salary for yourself and you are giving money to someone else?" I will never know if I was scammed or not but God knows and that's what counts.
The second incident is currently on-going. About a month ago, a young African American woman came into Zoe. She was carrying a very large blue duffle bag. She asked if she could set it down next to the counter and look around. I told her "of course" and told her I'd never seen such a big bag! She said it could hold everything but the kitchen sink! She told me I had a nice store and then departed.
The next morning, I saw her at Starbucks. She saw me come in and said "There's the lady from Zoe!" I said Good morning and asked her if she'd gotten the kitchen sink in her bag yet! We laughed and I went on about my business. From that point on, I frequently saw her walking on the street or ducking into one of the other stores close by. She always had reading materials (newspapers, magazines) and sometimes a Tall Starbucks drink. She has braces and is always clean and neat in her appearance. And she always has the blue bag.
I became more curious about her so I asked a couple of the other shopkeepers if they knew her or knew her background (not knowing her name, I referred to her as the young woman with the big blue bag). Surprisingly, no one else seemed to have even noticed her! I continued to observe her comings and goings.
Then, one hot Saturday morning, I was at my cash desk preparing the computer prior to opening the store. She slipped up the steps to the terrace and dipped water out of the fountain with what appeared to be the top to a can of shaving cream (I'm sure you know what the round plastic tops look like). That really bothered me. The water in that fountain is treated with chemicals (to prevent algae growth), people get into the fountain, throw coins in it and who knows what else. I was very worried that she did not have healthy drinking water.
I lost sleep over it that night. On Sunday, I took a plastic cup from home with me with the thought of giving it to her the next time I saw her and also offering her to use the Water Fountain in Zoe anytime I was open. Each time she would pass over the next few days, I was always busy with a customer.
On Wednesday morning, I hadn't felt well and had not had my morning coffee. After I arrived at Zoe, I started to walk to Starbucks and saw her on the street. I asked her if she had a few minutes to chat and invited her into the store. I told her my name and asked hers (it is Cher). I told her that with the hot weather upon us now, I wanted to offer her the opportunity to use the water fountain any time I was open and I gave her the cup with the offer that she could fill it up if she needed water to take with her. I never mentioned seeing her get the water from the landlord's fountain on the terrace.
Cher always waves when she walks by and does occasionally come in for water. I still don't know much more about her but we have nice conversations when we are together. I don't know where the story will go (maybe she is here to help me be a better person) but she makes me even more happy that I'm here.