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How helping a stranger in trouble was an answer to my own prayers

My name is Ashlee. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an average girl whose dream has always been to be a mother and a wife. I have always craved a simple life, one of peace and happiness. I am a planner. I have always p...

At my lowest I prayed for guidance and God sent me a stranger in need

The monthlong murder trial ended and life continued on as normal — except for me. The healing — which I thought was going to come as the sentence was given — was still nowhere to be seen. Early one morning, I dropped the four big kids off at school and headed to the grocery store. As I drove, tears fell down my face and the cloud of gloom steadily grew worse.

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I said a small prayer as I turned off the ignition:

Heavenly Father, I waited for almost two years for this trial to make me feel whole, but nothing inside of me has ever felt more broken. I don’t know who I am — who I am supposed to be now. I need help. I can’t do this. Please send me someone — someone to help me feel whole.

I wiped my tears, got the kids out of the car and headed into the store. In my fog, we wandered the aisles without much order. Soon, we were in the bulk food section. I brushed past a woman, and I got a distinct impression to stop and help her.

I brushed the thought aside and headed to the other end of the store.

Minutes later, the nagging feeling again came over me and ushered me to go back and offer the woman some financial assistance. I thought: Let’s go over what I just said in the car. I can’t even figure out how to handle my own life. I am broken. How on earth am I supposed to help someone else?

But soon, I found myself walking past her again. In a panic, I veered my cart down the baking aisle and silently prayed. Heavenly Father, I have enough on my own plate. I can’t possibly help someone else today. Instantly, my once-clouded mind became full of a very clear plan: Go into your wallet and give her money.

In humility, I stopped the cart. I was sure there was no money inside my wallet — I rarely had cash. As I opened my wallet, I found a $100 bill in a zipper pocket I hardly ever used. Tears filled my eyes as I stared down at the money in my hand. I guess Heaven had a plan for you. I squeezed it in my grip and slowly pushed my cart toward the back of the store.

There she was. I grabbed her arm. She turned toward me. I choked out my words, “I know you have no idea who I am. I don’t know why I am doing this. I hope I do not offend you in anyway, but I just need to give you this.”

I opened my sweaty palm to reveal the money. She looked down and burst into tears.

She sobbed, “How did you know? I have been standing here, trying to figure out how to pay for all these groceries. I have $12 in my bank account. How did you know I needed someone to help me? You are an angel for me today.”

She threw her arms around me and continued to thank me as we embraced. My heart was so full, I could feel Heaven surround us. We held each other and sobbed together. Again, she asked how I knew.

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I said, “Have you ever had one of those moments where God asked you to do something, and you almost thought He was crazy? The last 20 minutes, I have been fighting the feeling to help you. But I couldn’t walk away. I do know this... His love for you was stronger than my pride. You are loved, and today I think He needed you to know that.”

She hugged me again, and we said good-bye.

I will probably never know her name. I have no idea what her story is. But that day, when I begged our heavenly Father to send someone to help me — He did. Maybe I thought I needed an angel that day — but being one brought me closer to Heaven than I had ever been. Maybe I was an answer to her prayer — I will never know for sure — but she was the answer to mine.

More: How my faith helps me stay optimistic when things go wrong

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