I must have made quite the spectacle. Little ole’ 5ft3.5in me pushing the over-sized shopping cart loaded with two impatient boys one handed, the other hand carrying 5 large boxes while 8 unruly boxes, perched precariously on the cart, did their best to scatter across the parking lot.
We are prepping to put our house up on the market this coming week which necessitated a trip to town for a few more boxes and packing supplies. Those 8 unruly boxes had been fine in the flat aisles of the store, but take them out to the parking lot with all its inclines and declines, lumps and bumps, and they were just not going to stay put. They had already slipped off the cart once creating a ramp I launched the cart up (apparently you shouldn’t let the stay-at-home-mom title deceive you. I’m a daredevil in disguise.).
Ordinarily my cart-launching stunt may have been no big deal, except this was one of those carts with the steering wheels for the kids (I know, my germaphobic self screams at me every time I load my children into those things . . . but they are great for giving me 10 minutes to shop before tantrums begin). The sudden lurch caused my oldest to bump his nose on the steering wheel. Apparently those things are not equipped with airbags . . .
So there we were in the middle of the parking lot. One toddler holding his nose, the other venting his irritation at taking this long to get to the car, while I tried to keep those 8 unruly boxes perched on the cart while still carrying the 5 large boxes (those car shopping carts are great for preventing tantrums, not great for holding oversized items).
And then, a gentleman walked across the parking lot to where I was maneuvering the cart one handed and asked how much further we had to go. I laughed and motioned just a couple rows over to our vehicle (which may as well have been parked a mile away at the rate we were traveling!). He motioned for the boxes in my hand and said,
“You are struggling way too much for me to let you walk alone.”
So I gratefully said “thank you” as he took them to my car chatting to the boys about how cool that shopping cart was.
I could have taken offense to the spoken obvious that I was struggling to hold it all together. We would have made it to the car by ourselves, eventually (hopefully during the course of the same day). I could have managed the feat single handedly. I had come pretty far on my own as it was after all.
But the truth was, we weren’t going to make it very far on our own. A helping hand made the job so much easier. The walk got shorter, the frustration of those around me eased, and we averted a crisis of tantrums or bloody nose.
I’m a pretty independent person. I like to figure things out on my own and I’m pretty stubborn about seeing how far I can get by myself. Even in the midst of the biggest trials I’ve walked through, I keep it to myself. I’ll see how far I can get–why ask for help if I can get through on my own anyway?
You don’t need to travel too far in life to learn people are often unreliable. I learned pretty quick in my teenage years you better keep things to yourself or they will get broadcasted to the entire world (or just to your crush during Sunday School. Same thing, right?)
I learned connections don’t always run as deep as I thought as I’ve been left behind for the latest and greatest. And I’ve learned that people have the ability to inflict a tremendous amount of pain.
Keeping to myself feels much safer. But, it also means I struggle alone.
Life has also taught me however that we survive those moments we want to crawl under a rock. I may find myself deserted, but my Heavenly Father delights in me. He pursues me.
And while my heart may groan under the weight of rejection, grief, and loss; my Heavenly Father holds me tenderly. Just as I do when my children run to me heartbroken. He binds the wounds and heals the scars. He whispers the truth so tenderly, so lovingly in my ear. And He gives me the courage to walk again. To love again.
We weren’t meant to walk alone. Even Jesus chose men with whom to share His life. And, even He walked through the pain of betrayal by friend–the rejection that cuts the deepest. It is this that gives me the courage to continue reaching out.
I want to be the person who isn’t too busy to say
“You are struggling way too much for me to let you walk alone.” (But maybe in a much kinder way!)
I also want to be the type of person who can reach out for help rather than walk alone. The type of person who blesses, and allows others to bless.
Living life in a bubble may seem safe and comfortable, but by doing so we suffer wounds from our own hands. The wounds of having to face life alone. The wounds of having no one to speak truth into our lives. The wounds of falling with no one to help us stand. The wounds of the enemy who lies to our lonely hearts.
There are seasons of solitude and healing, seasons to allow the quiet let us hear the whispers of God. And wisdom also dictates who we spend our time with, who we trust, and who we confide in. But fear of people, fear of pain, fear of rejection should not rule in our lives. Fear paralyzes, it separates, it isolates. And that is a terribly lonely way to live.
So friend, today, I am encouraging us to choose courage over fear. To reach out, and allow others to reach in. I am encouraging us to be observant. To watch for the struggling one we can walk beside.
And for those of us with independent hearts, perhaps crouched in fear of rejection and pain, I’m encouraging us to watch our own hearts. To learn the signs we have isolated ourselves and be just brave enough to reach out and stop the cycle. We may be able to do it ourselves, but it’ll be a lot harder, the walk will be a lot longer, and someone just may suffer a bloody nose.