For some reason, I haven’t told a single person about you. I’m sure it’s a little bit due to embarrassment on my part, but I also think that you blew me away so much that day that I’ve simply wanted to keep you tucked close inside for myself. You’ve just felt too special to share.
Until today, that is, when you woke me up at 0400.
Honestly, you’ve been coming to my mind more and more often over these last few weeks, but it was this morning’s mind-racing hours of flailing around in the darkness that finally convinced me that it was time for me to actually speak.
That’s how this whole writing thing happens for me, if you’re curious at all about how “Growing Nurse Debi” works. There just comes a time when I absolutely can’t not speak. And God very clearly lets me know, just as he did today.
So, anyways … I don’t remember exactly what day it was that you and I met, but I know it was during those frenzied weeks before Christmas. You were just standing there looking at Christmas cards. We both were, actually.
Silently separate, yet together.
You were giving off a distinct aura of tense busyness. You didn’t look at me or even acknowledge that I was next to you. You were just intently pulling out card after card, reading them and quickly either putting them back, or into your cart with the others.
Meanwhile, there I was next to you, just blankly staring at the selection.
It’s funny because I only needed one card that day – just one card, for one very special person – but without even picking a single one to read, I knew that none of these would do.
There were just too many smiling Santa’s and festive glitter explosions shining back at me. There was no way I could even pick one of these up – all those jollies just felt so nauseatingly garish in that very moment.
So do you know what I did?
I just kept staring at them. And as I stood there, all I could think was how do you even buy a Christmas card for someone who’s experienced such horrors upon horrors?
Seriously. How do you do this?
And from this selection?
I know I’ve shared many times about what our family has been dealing with over this past year. (Click here if you want to catch up). We’re still struggling through those ripple effects, and the pain and memories of all of it just chose that moment to start bubbling up on me.
Right there in Target.
Standing quietly next to you.
Then, before I knew it, I felt the tears burning at the backs of my eyes.
Unbeknownst to you, I tried the whole frantically blink-those-tears-away-because-you’re-in-public-right-now thing, but we all know that my success rate with this is more than a little shaky. (Read “Tears at the Nurses’ Station” if you want proof.)
Plus it’s also directly proportional to how absolutely awful I happen to feel that day. And that day was definitely not good. It had taken me hours to just gear up the strength to get ready to make that “very quick” Target trip for that one card. And now my little burst of energy was completely gone, and I still had nothing to show for it.
Except that I was now very randomly crying in Target.
But you … my unsuspecting card-buying neighbor … you didn’t know all this about me. All the trauma of the last few months was silently rolling down my cheeks, and you were just next to me, busily picking out your cards.
I could’ve just tucked my head and quickly darted for the door at that point, but something made me stay there. Something made me finally ask you directly, just how in the world any of these cards could ever possibly work?
You turned and looked at me for the first time. You saw my tears and instantly dropped everything from your hands into your cart.
Instead of running away from this overly-emotional crazy woman like you could’ve done, you just reached out and wordlessly drew me into the most amazing hug. It was a tight one, too. Right there in the middle of Target. On the Christmas card aisle.
Before I knew it, I had told you pretty much everything that had happened lately.
You just kept hugging me.
I was apologizing profusely for my depressing invasion on your happy Christmas.
You still just kept hugging me.
I told you how I wanted to find a card, but would have to come back another day because now I was just too tired and weak. I needed to get home to rest.
It was at that point, you finally let me go.
Then you reached out pretty much right in front of where I’d been staring all that time (duh), and you handed me the most beautifully-peaceful Christmas card. It was exactly what I had been looking for.
You had read it earlier, but had put it back. And somehow, even with all I’d just boggled your mind by telling you, you still remembered just where it was for me. Amazing.
Honestly, sitting here today, I don’t even really remember what you look like – other than you’re a blondie like me. But I do remember how much you helped me that day.
Thank you so much for that.
I also remember feeling totally embarrassed as I walked to my car afterwards. I vowed to never tell anyone about this. And I was seriously kicking myself for being so weak and crashing your happy, busy day with all my heaviness.
But, like I said earlier, God has different ideas about what I share and what I keep to myself. He also has his ways of making me see things differently as I process them through his eyes.
So even though I’m still just a little embarrassed by what I dumped on poor you that day, I’m also thinking that we could probably all use a little bit more of this happening in our lives, couldn’t we?
To have someone who is honestly experiencing something real and raw come crashing through our personal clouds of chaos?
To remind us that this is not all there is?
That other people are hurting?
Right next to us?
That we need to stop what we’re doing and notice?
To offer them comfort?
Even just a wordless hug?
That it will actually help us to help them?
That God particularly sends people into our paths just for this purpose?
So we can take care of each other?
To be his hands and feet on this earth?
And that He’s perfectly equipped us to perfectly handle this?
There are no accidents, my friends. No chance encounters. Not a single thing is “random”. Every moment of our days has been previously ordained to coincide with a particular task God has just for us.
Once our eyes become opened to this, we can’t help but see His handiwork in absolutely everything. Even in who stands next to you while you’re shopping for a Christmas card at your local Target. Praise be.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40)
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