I just had the most humbling experience in the grocery store today.
I was checking out at the grocery store when my debit card wouldn't work. Which isn't the first time it's happened- our bank changed its name last year so everyone was issued a new debit card. For some reason there was a conflict with the bank's new cards and Wal-mart's card machines. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes the card reader gets picky about how and where my card is swiped. So I didn't think anything of it; just put it through the usual paces and figured it would work. Sadly it didn't- so I got on my fancy-schmancy smart phone (which I regret being stuck with- I love my phone, but not the contracted service bill) and checked our bank account.
There wasn't enough money to buy my groceries.
I stood there in shock for a minute- We just got paid a few days ago! And it wasn't like this was one of my big trips either... I was trying to keep it cheap.
I wasn't quite sure what to do...I don't carry a credit card with me even though I have one. We ran out of checks last month so that option was out...dig through the car for change?
I thought of the money bag sitting by the front door with my earnings from this weekend's craft boutique in it. There was enough money inside, but it was at home, not in my hand. I debated whether or not to call my husband and have him bring the bag. But I didn't think he would take the news very well; he would stressing out and demanding answers from me about where the money went and what happened, blah blah blah; and I wouldn't be able to tell him until I got home and took a good look at our account history.
As I feebly pawed at the grocery bags trying to decide what to put back, the lady in line behind me put her hand on my shoulder. "How much are you short?"
A sick feeling rose up in my throat. I didn't want her to help me- I was embarrassed enough that she had to see me like this.
"Whatever it is you're short, I will pay it." I opened my mouth to protest when she added, "Merry Christmas."
Those simple words were all the encouragement I needed to accept her gracious help. "Twenty dollars," I choked out.
I paid what I could and she took care of the rest. I got a couple of encouraging smiles and an arm pat from the cashiers as I sheepishly wheeled my cart out of the store. As I loaded my precious groceries into the car I remembered the empty compartment where my emergency $20 used to be.
A couple of months ago, our family was on our way to visit my parents in California. We stopped for gas in Primm, Nevada; the last service station we would see for hours while crossing the Mojave. When Matt got out of the car, a bigger gentleman approached us. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but Matt reached into that little compartment and handed the guy the $20 bill inside. After filling the car with gas and getting back behind the wheel, I asked him what happened. He said the guy needed money for gas.
As I watched the man walk back over to his nice car, I'm ashamed to say I began to judge this person. I knew it was wrong, but I griped in my head about how much it was, what that person might buy with it, and how it was there for our emergencies, not someone else's. I had smaller bills in my purse and wondered why my husband would automatically reach for the twenty and not ask me first if I had any cash. I tried to get over it and move on. I remembered about that missing twenty again last week when our funds were getting low and Matt needed gas to drive to work. He ended up using rolls of change to buy gas.
The lesson God was trying to teach me began to sank in. He knew that $20 meant something to me.
It's PAPER! It's WORTHLESS! It won't last past this life!
But for some reason my heart was set on that eternally worthless piece of paper. And He saw that it was returned to me.
I don't even have words to describe my feelings.
I've been seeking to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Presents are great- I love watching people's faces light up with excitement when they open gifts and find something just perfect. I love the feeling of making someone's day. But I always feel disappointed when I don't find that same perfect gift given to me. I want Christmas to feel what I imagine Christmas feels like. Trying to capture the spirit of the holiday when I am soo focused on shopping and gift wrapping and making sure I get everyone so no one feels like I don't love them if I don't have a gift or something for them is counterproductive. Money and material gifts are not what Christmas is about.
I may be forced to sacrifice my favorite day of the year- Black Friday- because it is a day of spending money....which is now gone. Could I find a way to pay for it on credit? Absolutely. It would be all too easy. But it isn't paid for if you owe the credit card company money. And it's not really a steal of a deal if I am owing interest on it.
Our girls are little so if our tree is a little bare under the branches it won't bother them any. Not to say there won't be anything there- but I've been wanting to do more of a homemade Christmas this year anyway to make our holiday have a little more personal value to it. This might be the perfect year to start teaching them the true meaning of Christmas anyway.
Christmas is an action. Not a feeling.
Doing something for someone else that they cannot do for themselves.