BLOG OF THE WEEK: This is one blogger who knows how to sniff a silver lining out of any old summer storm cloud. She found this story in the aisles of a rural supermarket, and carted that lesson out into the world with her. Good thing for us, she knows how to share. This post had a few on the Grit team dabbing their eyes...
When the days are full of blessings and everything is going my way, I can instantly claim control of the day. When the ground trembles around me, I realize that I have the control of a weak-bladdered six-year-old on a car trip to Disney World. There are thousands of instances that have sent me hightailing back to my creator.
Faith, Hope, Love, Live, Laugh. All are nice "wall words." But when I am having a bad day, you will not find me standing in front of words on a wall, staring at a refrigerator magnet, or searching through my cabinets for an inspirational coffee cup. You will find me searching for comfort from examples of hope. And this is the one that I go to. I will forever remember this day almost three years ago.
It had been such a busy week. We were living out of and around boxes, tying up loose ends before we moved back to South Carolina. I was finishing a few chores on the road and took a detour slightly out of the way to avoid traffic. I noticed a grocery store in a corner shopping center that I didn't frequent, but decided to go in to get a drink and a couple of avocados. I grabbed a big buggy and started cruising through the store. I realized on aisle five that I had already picked up the avocados and the drink. "What am I still browsing for?" I thought to myself. "It's not like I am in one of my faves, Whole Foods or Publix. This is a small general store."
So I slowly sauntered my way up front, weirdly out of it. Just as I was about to turn into the check out aisle, a young girl, about 11 or 12, entered in front of me. I pushed in behind her. I looked down at the buggy and realized how ridiculous I looked with a big buggy pushing two avocados and a diet coke. Then, to my own amazement, I got even stupider. I began to battle the skinny aisle to get in front of my buggy. "What the hell am I doing?" I thought. "Okay, I made it." Then I turned around to see that I had left the drink and veggies in the little front compartment. "I just need to go home and go to bed, I am a danger to myself today."
Okay, now I had nothing to do but look ahead at the little girl. She placed a can of SpaghettiO's on the counter. The clerk rang it up, the total was $1.33. The little girl timidly handed the clerk her store discount card. Now the total was $1.02. She slid a card through the credit card machine. The clerk leaned over and very quietly told her that the card was declined. The girl lowered her head in embarrassment and almost whispered, "Can you put it back?" and turned to leave. I caught her arm and handed her the can of SpaghettiO's, motioning for the clerk to ring it up with my items. The little girl mouthed a soft "thank you" and was gone.
The nice clerk wanted to chat, but I was ready to hurry and get out of the store to find the little girl. I scanned the parking lot then searched paths to the left and right of the store. I couldn't find her. I headed for my car, frustrated because I could have done more. Why didn't I just hand her some money? Why couldn't I find her? I was driving down the road, still beating myself up over not helping her more. Immediately I felt the answer. I wasn't supposed to help her more. My creator showed me that He takes care of his own. In the process, I got a very humbling lesson. I immediately thought of the story of Gideon and his army of thousands. He could have crushed the opposing army, but then the victory would have been boasted by man. Instead, He reduced Gideon's army to 300 and they annihilated the opponents. It was clearly known by all that God was the champion of the battle.
My visions of this little girl being helpless and hungry after she left were totally unwarranted. She would have another meal and she was in far more capable hands than my own. I am talking about a God that moved the world just a tad that day—stopped time, created a traffic pattern and detour that led me to a grocery store that I didn't frequent, made stop lights a little longer or shorter, moved that inner consciousness of mine to get that big buggy and browse through the store like it was a brand new gift shop, and, finally, made me fight that aisle to get to the front of that buggy so that I could actually see and hear what was going on. All to get a can of SpaghettiO's to a little girl. Confirmation that no matter what I think I am doing in this world, I am not in control of even the smallest of matters. It makes me sad to think that sometimes I am so busy with life that I have let so many of these wonderful moments pass by unnoticed.
Just for a nanosecond, I felt like I had peered through a peephole into the otherworld. It is both powerful and humbling to realize in times of angst that everything isn't just by coincidence.