In April, 2005, I went to the Shawnee, Oklahoma Wal-Mart Super Center to shop for a few items to do some household repairs and things to take with me on active military duty. I had to admit I was near the automotive section when a woman, who appeared to be in her early twenties, left her 3 or 4 years old daughter in the toy section saying: “You go play in the toy section while I go look at some clothes. Stay there and don’t go anywhere else. Okay?”
“What!” I thought. “This woman has to be out her ever loving skull to leave her daughter alone in this large store! Good gosh! Hasn’t she watched the television lately? Does she even read the newspapers? Doesn’t she realize that children this young are picked up every day? Should I call Child Protective Services?”
The little girl played happily with as many toys as she could reach and stayed where she was told. However, I was concerned about a girl this young in a store being without a parent to protect her. I wanted to give the mother a piece of my mind right then and there but then I would have to leave the child unattended or the mother might call store security maybe even the police to report that I had evil intentions with her daughter or even worse with her.
I decided I would tell her off nicely after when she came back to get her child. So I decided to just hang around in the area set up for back to school items instead of going to get some motor oil. I spent more than forty-five minutes watching from a distance a 3 or 4 year old little girl I had never met before to make sure that someone other than her mother did not come to take her from the store. Then she decided she wanted something from a high shelf and began to climb up a shelf. I held my breath hoping she would not fall. Luckily the next shelf level was too high for her to reach. I breathed a sigh of relief. I questioned myself again, “Eh, you should call the police. Maybe this woman planned to just leave her daughter hoping that someone would just take her. It’s happened. A guy did that in Oklahoma City several months ago.”
As I removed my cell phone from my belt, her mother finally returned with a shopping cart full of intimate wear and other clothing. I put my cell phone back on my belt and breathed a sigh of relief as the mother walked away not realizing how close I came to calling the authorities out to come pick up her unsupervised child. I went back to picking up the items I needed. As I did so, I questioned myself concerning my own decision. “Would this woman do this again? Surely not! Would she? Maybe? I made the wrong decision!
For several days following this incident, I debated and agonized my failure to report this woman’s actions. I thought to myself how strange the entire situation had been. No one knew I was watching over this little girl. If she would have fallen, strayed away or someone other than her mother would have tried to take her, I know I would have prevented her from getting taken or hurt. Or would I? These sorts of questions went through my mind. Then I thought human responses are always filled with uncertainty but not God’s. God is watching me every moment of the day whether I know it or not. His decisions are sure and without question. Maybe my task for this hour and day was to be this little girl’s living guardian angel.