I sprained my ankle in Memphis, which meant my life in Tennessee began with a large black boot on my left foot.
As I hobbled around our house, trying to unpack, I lifted a box of bubble wrapped dinner plates from a box, and was suddenly struck by a searing pain in my lower back that felt like I was being stabbed by a knife. The horrible, guttural scream that erupted from my body brought my family running to my side, one grabbing the stack of plates from my hands, the others trying to move me to the couch.
I spent the next two weeks unable to bend from the waist, down, and resigned myself to weeks of living surrounded by boxes and having my children be my hands and feet.
2017 contained so many truly challenging days.
But then there were the seeds of hope.
Like the checker at Walmart.
With my back out and my black boot on, my family and I navigated the local Walmart to buy groceries for our empty kitchen cupboards. It was the first big shop after our move…the kind where every condiment and spice needs to be purchased. As we stood in line, I suddenly found I just couldn’t stand anymore. I hobbled over to a bench and collapsed down, and I must’ve looked very miserable.
As Rich checked out, he began chatting with the cashier. She told him she moved to Murfreesboro from Australia…that God had randomly given her and her husband a vision of a church in Middle Tennessee. So, they left their comfortable, well-established life, and moved across the world. Within days, they found the church they had envisioned, and were settling into this new calling, and this new life, in Middle Tennessee.
She was working as a checker at Walmart, and said she felt like she was working exactly where God wanted her to be, because it gave her the chance to see so many people.
She looked over at me, and asked Rich, “What’s wrong with your wife?”
He explained that my back had gone out. She looked at her line of waiting customers, looked at me, then said, “I will probably get in trouble for this, but I can’t see a sister in so much pain and not pray for her.”
So, she prayed for me…and though the pain didn’t leave, I suddenly felt so much less alone. I felt seen, and as if someone actually cared.
When does something like that EVER happen at a Walmart?
When I think about it, my life has been speckled with those types of incidents…those seeds of encouragement that got me through.
Like the guy at Dollar Rent A Car who gave Rich and I a ride to a hotel the night our car broke down…he had moved to San Jose from Chicago, and was a Cambodian refugee. His family was brought over from Cambodia in the 1970s, and a church sponsored them, paying their rent, teaching them American customs, and helping them learn a new way of life in a new country. He said he wasn’t really into religion, but he always looked for ways to help people, because of that church, and what they did for his family. He drove us, perfect strangers, from the air terminal to our hotel a few miles away, in his personal car, at the end of his shift. When does that ever happen at an international airport?
I loved that vow because if you do that every day, it means that 365 people will be blessed by the end of a year. That’s 365 people walking around, feeling seen, and valued and loved.
That’s what the Walmart checker did…and the guy from Dollar Car Rental…and many, many more friends and family who have served as little points of light and hope during the many seasons of my life.
There is power in one person’s encouragement.
Sometimes a smile, a prayer, a car ride, or someone who offers to sit with your kids while you order your Chick Fil A…is the little seed of hope you need to get you through.