When God Is a Handful of Stickers

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Fiona KJ -Stickers4

It was a hot and sticky day, and we were taking our two little ones home from a day at London Zoo. We live in London, but the trip still takes one hour and fifteen minutes and by the time we were on train-change number two, my toddler was just about done with it all. As we pulled into Canada Water station, she got that look on her face and when the doors opened, I was half-carrying her off through the crowd waiting to get on.

I reached the wall of the platform and stopped and she quickly took up a loud howl of frustration mixed with exhaustion–that noise which strikes terror into the hearts of all toddler mamas. I knelt down next to her on the dirty floor, holding her arms, trying to get her to pause her wailing for the tiniest second so that I could regain some control of the situation.

But the howling only increased, tears streaming from her screwed up eyes, and as I contemplated leaving her there to find her own way home, I must have looked as desperate as I felt. Until suddenly there was a cheery loud voice cutting through the noise above us.

“Would you like the yellow smiley face sticker or the green one?” it asked chirpily, and Kaya stopped mid-wail at this unexpected interruption. I looked up to see a middle-aged woman in her fluorescent orange jacket and standard-issue clunky Underground worker shoes. She smiled broadly at us and held out the stickers to Kaya, who surveyed them seriously before picking the yellow one.

“And what about this pink dinosaur too?” my angel-disguised-as-an-Underground-employee asked. Kaya grinned shyly and I thanked her profusely before she walked off along the platform, the next train already sliding slowly along the busy platform.

My husband, negotiating the baby and double buggy behind me, snapped a photo as she walked away. I’ve not been able to get her off my mind these past few days.

The London Underground is unlikely to be a very easy place to work. You’re dealing with frustrated commuters made late for their meeting by yet another train breakdown, or clueless tourists who want to get to Buckingham Palace, but don’t speak a word of English to help them get there.

And yet this woman gets up in the morning, puts on those ugly-looking standard shoes and then pops a handful of stickers in her jacket pocket. Just in case.

Just in case she meets a family like ours, where an overwhelmed Mama or Daddy needs the distraction of a pink dinosaur sticker to help them get through this moment.

She’s been on my mind because this season of my life feels like hard work a lot of days. That’s partly because I have a baby and a little girl who just turned two to care for. It’s partly because I still feel new to this city nearly eleven months after moving here. It’s partly because I lack the time or space to do many of the things which usually bring me energy, like cook or write or decorate.

Whatever the reason, I am lacking the energy to give much of myself these days. I feel dried up, like an empty spring. And yet, maybe there’s still enough margin for a handful of stickers. What would it look like for me to be able to offer my own pink dinosaurs during my day? Those little, seemingly trivial actions that can transform someone else’s experience in that moment?

In this season where morning quiet times are a long-forgotten luxury, and I haven’t read a devotional let alone a book of theology in months, I’ve been trying to practice letting God surprise me. And when I have the eyes to see, God shows up everywhere. That day of the zoo, God was a handful of stickers in the palm of a kind woman.

And what if sharing God with the people around me was as simple as that? To look at what is in my palm, the small insignificant thing I have to offer—my pink dinosaur, my own three fishes and five bread rolls—and see how it can become something extraordinary if I just have the faith to offer it up.

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona lives in London with her Danish husband and her two young children. She is determinedly seeking the sacred in the ordinary, learning to see that even the most mundane moments of her day can be spiritual if she wakes up to the Divine in those places. She is in training to become a Spiritual Director, and baking is her favourite spiritual practice. You can follow her through her blog at fionalynne.com.
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

Comments

  1. Love this. I love people like this :sticker lady” 🙂 I worked with kids for 11 years so I try my best to be the sticker lady: distracting crying kids in line at the grocery store so mom can pay and load her bags, making silly faces at restless kids on airplanes, etc. I think if everyone could have a little nit of “sticker lady” in them we would be a happier humanity 🙂

  2. Saskia Wishart says:

    This story. This woman with the stickers. God showing up in unexpected places. Its all food for the soul. I am sorry this is time is such hard work Fiona. I also pray that you WILL uncover moments where you can refresh yourself, and that you will find simple gifts that can be offered up to those around you.

    (Also I was in Luxembourg recently and you were on my mind, what a pretty city. Trusting you will start to find a sense of home in London!)

    • fiona lynne says:

      Thank you Saskia. I am learning to see God in so many new spaces, and receive it as a gift. And oh I wish I had still been there in Lux! Come to London soon?!

  3. I love that sticker lady! I won’t look at stickers in quite the same way again … The little things, indeed.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Rasmus has seen her multiple times since, he says always with this positivity, whoever she is talking to.

  4. Beautiful story. You remind us that so often it is the little things that can make a big difference. And don’t worry. One day you’ll be the women with the stickers because you know just what being a mom is like. I also bet the lady with the stickers once was a mom with two kids under two.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Thank you Theresa. Yes, I am sure that these moments are born from profound empathy, and I’m grateful for being able to say “me to” to so many other women now through this motherhood experience.

  5. Amy Chumbley says:

    I love this! “I’ve been trying to practice letting God surprise me. And when I have the eyes to see, God shows up everywhere.” I have often been reminded that God takes the “ordinary” and makes it extraordinary! There’s a quote by Bruce Barton that says something similar, “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… I am tempted to think… there are no little things.”

  6. I love this, Fiona. Thank you for the encouragement to try to be that person with the stickers in her pocket – despite a hard, possibly unrewarding job – just in case. After all, our jobs as mothers are also hard and often unrewarding…and yet when we come out of the fog of toddlerhood (I also had 2 under 2), we can be that person with the stickers. The emptiness and inability to give doesn’t have to last forever. Thank you.

  7. Brilliant post! Enjoy London for me, hoping to see it again next year. My brother and I once did a crazy London transport journey with a 1, 2 and 3 year old to get to Wimbledon (to see the tennis grounds). It was great once we got there!!

    • fiona lynne says:

      Oh goodness, London transport with toddlers and babies is something else. I am becoming quite the expert at figuring out the step-free-least-changes-no-commuters routes around the city!

  8. Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

    I love this post so much… thanks so much for taking the time in your full, busy life to write this post as a gift to us all today. Made me smile. 🙂
    xo

  9. Thank you, Fiona, for your voice — coming to me from a stage of life that I well remember. One of our family mantras has been the truth you share today: Whatever you have in your hand, God will use it if you offer it to Him.

    Thank you for offering up your gift of words today.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Whatever you have in your hand. I love that. It’s a good mantra for this season especially. x

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