The impact of words in our lives never cease to amaze me. They can empower your being so much that you feel you can move a mountaintop. Yet, on the flip side, they can crush your spirit to the point of a devastation that leads to surrender. If you are, "slow to speak and quick to listen"*, you can glean much from the spoken words of those around you. You can take what you learn and spread the edifying words of good cheer that is lacking in today's world.
What seemed like the ordinary purchase of a poster board ended in a brief yet profound revelation by Mary, a complete stranger. Last Thursday, while my daughter, Mia and I were paying for our items at a Staples store in Long Beach, California, Mary, the cashier and I made small talk. It began with me saying, "I came here for one thing and look what I got". My intuition would later teach me that my comment was a shallow remark due to the false presumption that buying more is often done.
Mary confirmed my shallowness by saying she didn't have those problems because her rent was nine hundred dollars a month and her salary was a thousand. I was amazed and asked her how she lived on one hundred dollars. Mary said it was much more than what she had previously, nothing.
The fact that she survived on little money was not as remarkable as the tone in which she spoke. It was so carefree and nonchalant. I knew I was listening to something of enormous value.
Mary shared with me how she had been homeless and had lived out of a car. She said she'd make money by doing odd jobs for people in addition to the charity she received from strangers. Mary said she believed God kept her alive so she could complete her mission to care for her Mom. That, she added was enough to make her happy. Mary was like the Apostle Paul who, "learned to be content whatever the circumstances."**
At that point, I wondered if she shared this with others and as if on cue, she added that she didn't speak much to people yet she felt I needed to know what she told me. I said I'd love to speak with her further and when she said she was on Facebook, I almost laughed out loud with glee. I quickly gave her this blog address and my name before the patience of the person behind me wore thin. Mary said she'd contact me and I am hoping she does. I believe we can all learn much from her.
As I write this on my desktop in my lovely home on a safe military base, I think of Mary and the discomfort, fear and anguish she endured. I know that I have been blessed in meeting her and I welcome these kind reminders that take me back to where I have been. I admire Mary's faith, strength, courage and resilience and correlate her spirit with my definition of a soldier.
Know for certain that this blog is for all of us. Moses Avila made a blog comment earlier today that affirms this. He stated, "I believe that your story will uncover many of our stories..." He is absolutely right, we are all on this journey together. What is most significant and cannot be overlooked is that these comments derived from Moses and Mary. I don't know about you, but it seems like divine intervention is involved.
"It's a very funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it." William Somerset Maugham
*"Everyone should be slow to speak and quick to listen. James 1:19
**"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philipians 4:11