I Prayed in Wal-mart Today

I know the title might sound funny, but I actually prayed in Wal-mart Today.

Not for myself, but another family who I didn’t know and still don’t.

My husband, son and myself were doing our grocery shopping. It’s Saturday so it’s busy, but we weren’t in a hurry so we were just cruising through the aisles. While it was loud, you can still hear certain voices over others.

I heard a Dad yelling at his kids. Not cursing, but certainly being very ugly in his tone of voice, and I imagine the look on his face (I couldn’t see him at this point). They couldn’t have been more than an aisle away so I stayed put a moment to see if they were heading my way.

They did turn the corner. It appeared to be a Dad with three kids. The one in the front of the cart probably wasn’t 2 yet, then a little boy wearing glasses about 5 and a sister about 7 maybe. No Mom with them. Their cart held toilet paper, cookies, and a case of beer (not judging, just sharing the scene).

He got down in the little boy’s face and yelled to stop touching things. Like IN his face yelling as you might before you start throwing punches. Then turned and yelled at the older sister about opening things instead of leaving them in the basket. This went on for several aisles. The two kids walking were in tears, all red faced.

I want to make it clear, I never saw him lay a hand on either of them. I definitely would have acted if I had. I did keep an eye out from a distance for a few aisles to see if these kids needed someone to step in. And maybe I should have, considering how he was yelling.

But, I didn’t. My husband heard it and had been watching as well. All I could do was pray. Silently.

I prayed for the Dad, that whatever was going on in his life that made him speak to anyone, much less his small children that way, to be resolved. That the kids were watched over so it didn’t escalate. That this was an isolated incident and maybe this was just one moment in time where Dad was just overwhelmed and unfortunately was in public and didn’t stop to ask for help.

I don’t know what happened when they left. Maybe Dad realized what he was doing and hugged and kissed them before piling in the car. Maybe Mom was on the other end of the store and is the calming force in their world. Maybe it only got worse from there. I just don’t know.

I can only pray now like I did then. And decide if there’s a way I could step in and help, next time.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sherryl Wilson
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 10:55:53

    Very touching story. It is hard to know when to step in and offer a hand. I think we have all been in this position. Praying is the first and best thing you can do in this or any tough situation.


  2. Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman)
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 14:17:26

    Thank you for posting this. I have done the same thing in Kroger before. In my situation it was a mother – who appeared to be wealthy – and two little kids around the same age. She yelled at them and then walked away! She left them by themselves! They looked so hurt, upset, they talked about what they could do to make their mom happy, and they stayed there. I pretended to look at items near them and just stayed around them praying in my head. I was so worried the mom was going to completely leave the store and come back so I wanted to be a witness to whatever would happen intentionally. I considered talking to the kids but decided not to for fear I would get in trouble but I still wish I had told the kids that I was going to pray for them and there was a God that loved them. I am actually teared up thinking about this. In all honesty though, it’s not always children. You can sometimes see amongst relationships that one or another person is mistreating the other. It may seem like a small move on your part to some but your prayers may have changed the lives of that family.


  3. Liz Barnett (@WomanlyWoman)
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 14:18:29

    Oh – and the mother did return – although very angry still. And she gathered them up and I believe they left the store together. But I still think about them when I am in the store.


  4. Jenn
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 15:13:55

    It’s so sad that when we witness other parents being so awful to their children that we fell afraid to say something because we feel it’s not our place. I know if I would have seen the dad yelling at his kids I would not have known what to do, either. I would have probably not said anything. Whenever I see or hear a parent being very hard on their child, my stomach turns. I get sick to my stomach and I have to get away from them.

    I can only imagine how hard this was for you to witness. I think it was very thoughtful of you to stop and pray for the family.

    This is a very touching story.


  5. Alice Syman
    Jun 22, 2015 @ 16:04:08

    What a blessing to have a granddaughter like you!


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