If you promise not to think I’m bragging, I’ll tell you a story. But you’ve got to promise, okay?!? Because the story’s not really about me, anyway. I…just happen to be in it.
I cried today.
Not that crying is unusual, especially lately. In fact, I’ve been crying almost every day for the past few weeks.
The past 2 years have been hard and seem to have gotten increasingly tougher, culminating in an extremely challenging summer. It’s been an extended time of transition–from August 26, 2016 when my husband learned he couldn’t stay in the job he’d spent years training for, through more than a year of applying for similar jobs but getting nowhere, to recently accepting a job in a totally different field for less than one-third the pay we were used to.
The thing that’s making it really hard right now is this: our income has dropped by two-thirds, but our expenses have basically doubled because the house we bought and could afford 3 years ago still hasn’t sold. So, we still have all those bills to pay in addition to the new bills for our new, much smaller home in another city. (This apartment in Charlotte, NC, is almost exactly half the square footage, so I’ve had to give up a lot of cherished furniture. I don’t even have a dining table now!)
Oh, and don’t forget that our daughter had to get into an apartment to continue her college education, and all that expense is either coming out of our quickly diminishing savings or through an extra Parent PLUS loan on me! So, in some ways, our expenses have tripled!!
Financial worries are hard enough and take their toll on anyone, but that’s only one aspect of what has made me cry so much recently. My whole routine has been shattered!
My hubby, Eric, is currently working in the afternoons and evenings, with Monday and Tuesday off instead of the usual Saturday and Sunday. With him home at times and on days that I’m used to having to myself, I feel so disoriented. The home-cooked meals we used to have for supper, we now have for lunch so we can eat together. Even my God Time has been shuffled around to later in the day!
If you favor routine and structure like I do, then you know why I have cried.
But my tears today were not caused by my discombobulated situation. I cried today because I helped a man.
After discovering yet another need for our apartment, Eric and I headed to Walmart this morning. Noting the time, Eric mentioned that we needed to hurry in order to get home and start cooking lunch in a timely manner so he could get to work on time. No spare time to look around then.
As we waited in the right turn lane to exit the large shopping center, I noticed a young man (a black man, for those who may find that detail of value) at the same corner facing the busy street. He appeared to be struggling to right his overturned seated walker.
When he didn’t quickly stand back up, I realized he needed help. Eric couldn’t stop the car fast enough. My seat-belt was off, and I even contemplated stepping out of our still moving vehicle! There were several cars ahead of us, so maybe if I hurried, I wouldn’t hold up traffic much. I ran toward this still bent-over young man, hollering, “Let me help you!”
Stepping into the busy street’s edge, I started pulling up and out the trapped, rather heavy grocery bags he had placed in his rollator’s basket and chair. No wonder he was struggling, I thought, this heavy load must have tipped the walker over the curb when he first attempted to cross the street.
I didn’t realize at the time how dependent this physically-challenged man was on the walker to keep him upright, so when I attempted to lift the walker back into proper position, I inadvertently caused him to lose his balance! Down he went backwards, scrapping his elbow on the sidewalk!
By this time, Eric in our car has reached the corner. Cars were piled up behind him. What did my dear hubby do? He pulled over as close to the curb as he could, turned on the flashers, and hopped out to assist me in helping this large, tall man back to his feet (this guy was 6 feet, at least, and not overweight but not skinny either).
As I gathered up the grocery bags, and as Eric helped him up, I told my servant-hearted husband that we’ve got to help get this man to wherever he needed to go. I couldn’t let a bleeding man continue to walk in this hot humid weather!
So, as cars gingerly drove around us (nobody honked in anger!), we got our sweaty, dirt and blood-covered buddy into our car and drove him across the street into the apartment complex he lives in, winding back into the large complex until we were in front of his building. Only after we had delivered him safely into the care of someone he knew did we remember how we were in a hurry.
Oh yeah, we still needed to cook lunch, eat and get Eric out the door on time for work! And I had just used up a bunch of time.
Not that I was panicked about that, though. My mind was more pre-occupied with how absolutely wonderful it felt to help someone in need.
It was a God moment, and God moments always make me cry. I was both humbled and honored to have been used to help a total stranger. It is a humbling honor to act just like Jesus would have acted had He physically been there.
As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing more satisfying than to experience God’s love … not by being on the receiving end, but by being on the giving end. To be the conduit through which God shows His love to another is exhilarating!
Knowing this had all been a God moment, I wasn’t surprised when we managed to cook our full meal and eat it leisurely with plenty of time for Eric to get ready for work. After all, Jesus did say that when we put God’s kingdom first, He’ll take care of all the rest (Matt. 6:33).
And I learned something wonderful, too. But first, let me set this up so you’ll see why it’s so wonderful.
I had heard of research that showed we (yes, Christians) are less likely to stop and help someone when we believe we don’t have time to spare. Unfortunately, in Western culture, busy-ness is a badge of honor. Everyone is carrying such maxed-out loads that no one has any spare capacity to help “carry [another’s] burden, and … fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 NIV). We’re all one straw away from breaking the proverbial camel’s back!
I believe that research is correct, and Galatians 6:2 challenges me as a standard, so I’ve been desiring for a while now to free myself from unnecessary excesses so I can be more available for God’s purposes. Life, lately, seems to have saddled me with so much that I’m pretty sure I’ve tipped over into burden territory.
So, to learn by experience that even a burdened, overwhelmed person who is under a time-crunch can still be helpful to another is truly an encouragingly wonderful thing! Yes, it’s still better to lighten our load of obligations and free up our schedules. But, it’s nice to know that we can still be useful to bless someone else, regardless.
I’m just very glad there was more Jesus in me than there was stress, time-pressure, or self-pity over my current situation. I could have so easily been mentally pre-occupied and thus blinded to my surroundings! So, I’m forever grateful that Jesus in me was greater and was ready to jump out of a moving car if necessary to help someone. To Him be all the glory!
Thanks for reading!
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™