“Gosh dang it; how on earth will I survive another day?” Julie thought as she was preparing to get into bed. She felt as though the world’s weight was on her and knew that with any more pressure, a complete collapse was in order.
Her boss had been an emotional drain on her; he again today had required validation all was going to be okay. It had become a regular occurrence that going to work meant her last ounce of sanity was instantly stripped, carrying the burden of this unstable leader’s needs.
The children, now out of school for the summer, needed attention. Time was easier to give when money wasn’t a high priority. The family had been hit hard from the failing economy. What had been enjoyment in employment now became a fundamental need, a burden just to keep food on the table.
It seemed like all the little things that used to be incidental now were magnified as Julie hit the floor, kneeling in prayer. The knowledge Julie carried in her heart was that her Creator wouldn’t test her beyond her ability to sustain, yet she was in mental and physical pain.
She offered a plea of relief, suggesting the energy gained would be put to good use. What had been a clear appreciation for all she possessed now was clouded perhaps by concentration on difficulties. Her last words were, “Please, if there is no relief, give me understanding.”
The next morning Julie woke up feeling more tired than before she went to bed. The night was full of tossing and turning. Just as sleep was to overtake her tired body, a child would come home upset with feelings from girlfriend relationships. Getting things worked out with this child didn’t mean sleep would easily follow, as thoughts of how to help now occupied her mind.
Struggling to dress for the day, Julie put a load in the wash, did a few dishes, arranged lunches, and then drove off to another day at work. She drove down the road with a feeling that today was going to be unique occupying her mind. Not really remembering the request made by her Maker the night before to gain understanding.
Just before noon, Julie was to pick up a friend for a lunch gathering. This friend was meeting her at the south end of a large regional mall. It was an outdoor mall full of activity early on this summer day. This mall served as a gathering place for sports spectators during the winter Olympics. Water features, walkways, varied shopping, entertainment, office buildings, and eateries were there.
On the south end of this mall, there was a homeless shelter across the street from where Julie was waiting. Like the mall, there was a lot of activity. What she noticed was that there were families leaving the protection of this shelter onto the streets. There were all ages, colors, types, and genders. The activity was noticeably different than the groups of people where her friend would arise from.
Suddenly it hit her like a ton of bricks! Could these different groups of people, poles apart, ever realize the needs of each other? On one side of the street, a family had nothing, perhaps not even the hope for a meal or another peaceful night’s sleep. While on Julie’s side of the street, perhaps the concern was having the most current style or what to have for lunch.
Julie’s mind immediately gravitated toward inner peace, knowing she had blessings that are not always realized. The friend she was picking up was meeting some mutual friends to plan for a reunion. Lost in the spirit of her thoughts, suddenly, her passenger door flew open with her friend smiling from ear to ear. “Julie, it is so good to see you. Life has treated you well, my friend,” were the first words out of the mouth of this friend Julie hadn’t seen for years.
Small talk began, and the two fell off into the earlier days of their youth. Their lunch was only minutes away, which didn’t allow for covering all that needed to be talked about. Quickly they ran to the restaurant, hoping others had already been seated. They found their group, who were seated; they were some of the last to arrive.
Naturally, a group gathering in preparation for a reunion that hadn’t seen one another for years had a lot to discuss. Julie started by asking where one of the missing members was. “Julie, didn’t you hear?” was a comment from across the table. Hear what? Sue had a stroke two years ago and has been left with limited to no physical control. She desperately wanted to come, thinking she could; only to find she had a bad morning. Julie’s heart fell, thinking how lively and vivacious this woman had been the entire time she had known her in their youth.
While there was much more talked about in this meeting, including mostly positive, wonderful stories of success, Julie’s mind concentrated on the unknown stories of her friends who had experienced some type of suffering. As the hour passed, each story seemed a little more tragic.
Yes, there were divorces and horrible relationship stories, but the ones that captivated Julie’s mind were the ones she couldn’t believe. One friend, a mother, had lost her son to drugs, and another in the battles of the war. There was a son who had lost his legs stepping on an IED, another whose daughter had disappeared four years ago. One who lost their wife, one thought to be homeless? All Julie could think about was the time she had spent observing the shelter just an hour ago.
The friend, a male, voted most likely to succeed, had died several years ago of a heart attack at a very young age. With a heart full of love and emotion, Julie couldn’t find another word to say. The meeting concluded, and the two walked off to the car. Julie dropped this friend off at the mall with the parting words, “Julie, are you okay?” Yes, just carry a heart full of gratitude and understanding.
Julie finished her day at work, clearly just going through the normal motions of her workday. Her mind was off to another world. The drive home was very similar; as she drove in the driveway, she wondered how she got there. The evening wasn’t much different other than the emotion of gratitude for what just the day before had been frustration.
Now, again retiring to bed and kneeling in prayer; Julie began to speak to her Creator. Dear God, thank you for all you have given me and the knowledge to be aware. I am embarrassed. I felt as though my burdens were hard to bear. Thank you for the understanding you granted me today. Never forget all I have; let me be aware of others’ needs. Put in my path those who necessitate. Grant me information to assist them. Let me be a vehicle for you here on this earth with compassion for all. I have the abilities and capabilities to help; please let me do so!
Great story illustrating the importance and value of gratitude. I’m reminded of something said by the Greek philosopher Diogenes, “He has the most who is content with the least.”