On this day, I am so thankful for those heroes out there that protect my freedom…your freedom…Many of them have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Peace. It doesn’t end there either because their families spend a lifetime grieving for the loss of that loved one who perished while looking out for me and my own family. My step-son, well, I think of him as my son…He is in the Army and serves in Alaska. He has done two tours overseas in the last few years. While he is away, his wife tries to keep busy as she lives almost a lifetime away from her closest relative and works at not worrying over his safety. I could not imagine her frame of mind. My hat tips to them both.
So what has happened in our society to make people want to wage war? Why do people abuse those who work awful everyday jobs so that they can eat out, get gasoline, use a clean bathroom, or even teach our children? Why do we as a civilization, with so much history to learn from, not live the lessons that have been taught? I will be the first to admit that as I have worked in the retail field, I have grown to be impatient with those who think they can be rude or judgmental with me. I have sported a real chip on my shoulder for a long time…perhaps longer than I ever have known…
And then again, there are these moments…these glimmers of decency that will renew my faith in humanity.
You know, when I was only about 21, maybe 22, I was married and had a little boy. We moved into a new apartment and it was very close to Christmas. For weeks I had been shopping the dollar stores for little gifts to give my husband and son. We knew we had nothing to shop in the large department stores with. I had carefully hidden away some blocks, a sippy cup, coloring books, playdough, and small cars. I bought a few outfits at a second hand store as well for my little D. (He had just turned one years old a few months before.) Well, one day about a week before Christmas, I came home to find a large manilla envelope taped to my door. I don’t remember what the 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper even said, but it was along the lines of do something great with this for Christmas. I looked inside the envelope and there was $500 in there in gift certificates to Toys R Us. My eyes burned with tears and my heart was pounding. I remember looking up and down the street for the person who left it, but there was no one. Years and years later, I found out that gift had been from my dad, a man I didn’t have a good relationship with. Yet, he held enough compassion for my family to extend his hand of help to us. It wasn’t the money making that holiday so special for us, it was the love he showed. It was the moment of selflessness he displayed that I hadn’t seen very often in my lifetime. At one time, I was daddy’s little girl. By the time I left home, we were not close at all. It has taken many years for us to repair our relationship, but I believe it started that day.
The years went by and I divorced my husband of nine years. It was a very difficult time for all of us. I believe people do things hoping they are making the right decisions. They may not always be the right ones after all. Again, Christmas came and I literally had nothing. Not even for dollar store gifts. We were surprised one evening with carolers that left us gifts on our doorstep. I did not know these people, but they were from my church. Various members of the congregation had “adopted” my kids and bought them presents. I hadn’t stayed religious for all of my adult life. In fact, even my spirituality had left me and I felt just a shell…a zombie, if you will, walking and working to survive for my children. The fact that people I had never met would gift my children with anything was a miracle to me.
A couple of years later, I was able to return the favor for a dear friend who was in much the same position as I was. She had two small children and nothing for Christmas. I had the time of my life finding gifts for them all, wrapping them up, stuffing them all into a huge Santa bag and delivering them in the middle of the night. I left them as close to their door as I dared to creep. She called me Christmas morning and told me about the excitement. I was beaming ear to ear knowing I had done that for them. It was an amazing feeling to help another out the way others had helped me. Her tears were my tears…her laughter was mine also…her uplifted heart was shared.
I could go on, but I will simply show you one more act of kindness that has been bestowed upon me and my family.
Last year, I worked as a blogger. I would go into the office, work for a man who didn’t even register I was there. He never tried to make me any better than I was. I merely existed…a drone among drones…punch in, put the head down, punch out. I knew I could not take much more and I approached the owner of said company with a proposition. We shook on a plan where I would work from home and continue to blog in an effort to relieve some pressure down the lines. On my last day in the office, the owner told me he was not able to continue with our agreement. I was crushed. I was angry. My dreams of going back to school were no more. More than that, my heart felt more hate than I have ever felt in my life. Not toward the owner, mind you, no it was the man I worked under that forced his hand to retract what we had shook on. It occurred to me that a man’s word is no longer his honor. Business owners don’t run them, they sit back and collect what all the others do for them. If life were that easy for everyone!
So, I tried and I tried to work hard in my home to prove to my family that they really needed me to stay there with them. Needless to say, bills became too much and we got behind. I was forced to go back to work.
I opened my local Craigslist and started looking for a job. Again, the hate and anger surfaced because I was supposed to be doing what I loved and taking care of my family. My husband assured me that he just wanted me to work part time. After a few resumes went out, I found a listing for a place just up the road working at a second hand consignment store. I would have little gas expenses and the hours were perfect. They hired me.
There were some feelings of doubt that I harbored. I knew I had skills and didn’t want to sit in a warehouse perusing other people’s belongings forever. But I had to pay the bills.
These people were the last ones I had ever expected to meet. They were very to the point. They really reached out to me. They made me feel a part of their family. They prayed each day before lunch.
Being so behind placed an extra side of stress to my plate and we were struggling to feed our family of six. I had nothing left for groceries. Knowing we would be catching up, I did apply for assistance so I could get some food. It was a temporary fix to a bleak situation. The verdict came back that we made too much to qualify. I was devastated once again and the anger reared its ugly head.
We were talking at work the following day, discussing the public school system, the housing issues, and other rants that came up. I relayed my experience with the State from the day before and the rant grew heated.
As I was leaving the store that day, the owner and his wife asked me to stay late. When we were alone, I was handed an envelope. M.E. told me that they are Christian people, that they don’t go to church but they save a little in a fund that would go toward a tithing type of fund. She told me to go get my family some food to make it through that really tough place in my life. I was overwhelmed with emotion and the tears fell from my eyes in gratitude.
That has not been my only blessing since I started working there. Besides gaining my spirituality back that had been absent for many years, I get to make friends with some of the most special folks. A lot of my customers will come in to shop and will hug me hello. Their positive way has helped to dispel the anger that has been pent up in me. It has helped me to become a semblance of my former self. It has been the best therapy a person could ask for and get paid for showing up. (Perhaps even more than writing books!) But the times my boss tells me she appreciates all that I do for her heals my broken heart one crack at a time.
God meant for me to find these people…my angels…and they have truly saved me. Going from feeling like dirt to knowing I am important and I matter where I have landed does indeed renew my faith in humanity. I now pray before I go to bed each night. Through that example, we have been blessed in countless ways. But it all started with one couple who saw the potential in me and gave me that chance.
I will tell you, I am the Queen of the Hard Times. When you have it bad, email me. I may not be able to fix your problems, but I can be that ray of light to help show you the way. I have been hurt. I have known hate. I have known defeat. But I have picked myself up and dusted off, storming in on life again. You can as well.