I feel like I’m no stranger to struggle. I won’t lie- I think it is a part of life. Still, when I’m in the throes of it, I feel like no one has it worse off than me. Whenever I get ready to dwell in self pity, God shows me that I don’t corner the market.
I haven’t been at my job a long time. There is a lady at my job who has consistently gone out of her way to be nice to me. Wait, I take it back. She hasn’t gone out of her way, it’s just who she is. She made a point of introducing herself to me, saying good morning to me every day, asking me how I was doing, generally making me feel welcome. I’m not exaggerating when I say she has helped me start my workday off on a good foot.
I’ve had a chance to hear her drop knowledge to the higher-ups at our job more than a few times, and it’s clear that she is well respected and that her opinions are valued. I won’t say that’s not a big achievement- she is an aid in a department where degrees mean everything (including more money). As the days have gone on, I have had a chance to talk to her a little bit more and find out more of her story. She told me she worked in another department of the hospital and that she made the change to department we work in now when the shift at the former department changes while her children were young. She was going to have to be at work at 7 am, which meant she wasn’t going to make sure her little ones got to the bus stop safely. Because that was important to her, she made the change. That may not sound that extraordinary, but she is a single mother of triplets who was not and is not driving because riding the bus is more cost efficient. (Well DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYUM!!!!)
I’ve seen pics of her 3 girls. They are seniors in high school, and that means she is paying senior dues and buying prom dresses x 3. She told me she has to buy 2 carts of groceries every time she goes to the grocery store (which is atleast 2x a month). Her daughters have different tastes in food which no cooking one thing for everyone in the house to eat, and all plan to go to different schools next year. I thought I was in a bad place when my folks where talking about sending me to school with no money stored away. ALL of her girls are planning to go to out-of-state schools, and the tuition at all of these school is EX-PEN-SIVE! (yeah…I did just break that word into syllables). On top of thinking about tuition, she has to furnish 3 different dorm rooms and plans to get each of her girls a laptop for school.
Now, when I get confronted with a problem I like to try to find a solution. That has been a blessing and a curse. I IMMEDIATLY suggested she find a sponsor. I told her she should have a party. I was sure people in the department would put in some money (because since I have been there they have been asking for money for somebody’s something EVERY DAMN WEEK). She told me she’d think about it. When I found decent prices for laptops I let her know. Gave her website, all in the name of trying to ease her burden.
I can’t say that I got the wood burning in her mind, but I had a chance to touch bases with her today and she has been BUSY. She wrote Oprah, she wrote Ellen, she wrote her congress person. I wasn’t mad hat her (hell, I didn’t even think that big!). She told me she was asking some folks she knew in high places to see if she could get some laptops for the low (hell, I’m praying she gets them for free!!).
I tell this story because I feel like it made me put my struggles in perspective. I’m JUST getting back on my feet after being under-employed/unemployed or all of 2009, but I have only had to take care of me. I can’t imagine having had to take care of a baby, much less 3 babies on NO budget. When she told me she had three kids, I thought about diapers and formula and Christmas time and birthdays and just day-to-day making it, and I don’t know that I would have as cheerful a disposition as she has. If God doesn’t put more on us than we can handle, than He must already KNOW what I just imagine is true- I wasn’t built for that.
The lesson in this? You control how you approach life. You can give up and let it happen to you, or you can go out and make things happen.