I was having one of those days.
OK, one of those weeks.
Seems like if something could go wrong or get broken or get hurt, it did. If I start the list, I’ll tempt myself to go for the bottle of Captain Morgan’s (skip the glass), and seeing as I am expecting, I tend to think that wouldn’t be a good idea anyway. So I’ll skip the list.
Besides, yesterday was different.
The day before yesterday, I managed to drop a cement block on my foot (part of that list), on my driving foot (of course), and was so mad at myself for pushing my poor body to do a big project (trying to be heroic and just get it done), that the anger over my carelessness outweighed the intense pain. I wondered how I was even going to get to church the next day, knowing full-well I would have to do this alone on this particular Sunday.
But somehow, I managed to get all 8 kids ready (with the help of my amazing eldest helpers), and we even managed to arrive on time! I decided, what the heck, let’s celebrate barely making it through Mass and go out to eat. Another event I would normally avoid entirely, even if I weren’t 6 months pregnant with a wounded foot… 8 kids and me in a restaurant? I think not. But we did it. And we only had one water spill from the baby, and someone in the restaurant even asked, “How do you get your kids to behave?” I said, “You know, I think they are just stunned and overly hungry.” As soon as the pancake calories kicked in, we were out of there like Bill Clinton at a chastity rally.
So then we braved Goodwill, and made it out with a sword (no, it wasn’t on our list, but since when do we ever find anything on our “list” in Goodwill? That’s what makes it fun, right?) As we were starting to drive back to our side of the state (from where we live, everything takes like an hour to get there…), I could feel the exhaustion starting to knock at my door. I looked up, and right in front of us, as we headed back out east, was a huge, full-sky rainbow. My lovely daughter stated, “Wow! You know what mom? Today is a day of good luck.” I said, romantically, “It better be. Yesterday was all bad luck.” She said, “Really? How?” I said, “Well, you know, my foot and all…” She replied, “Oh… but today is perfect. Everything has worked out for us. And now there’s a rainbow.”
She was right. I realized, I COULD make it to Walmart to pick up much-needed items for the week, much as that’s the last place I want to go when I’m already tired. So we zipped through the store, hurriedly picking up items to help us survive, and then hurriedly visiting the toy section since I had promised the kids they could spend their well-earned money from home projects on Legos they wanted. This was rare for me to even visit the toy section ever if not for Christmas or a birthday, but that’s what made this trip special.
We got to the Lego aisle… and that’s when it hit me. An intense wave of nausea that almost knocked me out. I had reached a level of exhaustion that had gone just a blue-light-special too far. I gathered all the kids in a clump near the bathrooms and begged my nanny daughter, “Please… just watch everyone for a couple minutes… I have to run to the bathroom..” I ran to the bathroom and sat quietly in a hidden stall, and just breathed slowly.
And as I sat there… I started thinking, “What am I doing? I just want my bed… I just want some help… I want to do so much but my body is failing me… This is ridiculous… How can I get through this week? My kids depend on me… Can I even be a good mother to all of them? Am I strong enough? I don’t know if I can go on any further…”
Suddenly, from outside the stall, someone started humming “this little light of mine”… she hummed a verse, and then broke out into a full rhythmic snap with the humming. I assumed she was an employee, since I was at the back of the store, and she certainly didn’t know anyone was in the bathroom, or she wouldn’t have been so uninhibited, most likely.
I started quietly crying. Just like the rainbow God sent to get me to my next step, he sent me this little joyful song… and suddenly I could feel in my heart: “You can do this. Get up. You can do this.”
I came out of the stall to see who had been singing, but no one was there. I stood there for a few minutes, and felt even more emotional… Taking a deep breath, I departed with a new strength back to the nearby Lego aisle. But on my way, I passed a beautiful African-American lady who looked about 9 months pregnant, and who was an employee. She looked at me and smiled a big beautiful white-toothed smile and said, “I can see you and I are having the same exhaustion… You have yourself a beautiful evening, and congratulations.”
She emanated joy, and there she was pregnant, and working, most likely for a living. I wondered if she had been the one to joyfully sing a little praise to God in the bathroom on her little break…
I made it through the checkout line, and happened to get our favorite cashier, another delightful Christian lady who works non-stop. She asked us, “Someone said there was a huge rainbow outside… but I didn’t get to see it. Did you?”
Something came over me, and I said, “Oh yes, I did! But you know? The rainbow is inside this Walmart. It’s you, and the people who work here.”
She began to cry and became speechless as she bagged the rest of the items. As I was leaving, she whispered, “Thank you for saying that. You don’t know how much that means.”
Mind you, I don’t normally talk or act that way in a Walmart. I usually want to hot-foot out of there like Nancy Pelosi in a maternity ward. But the lady in the back of the store shared her “little light” with me, and then I had something to give. No doubt, the sweet cashier shared her little light as well…
The little light isn’t ours… it’s HIS. He wants us to spread it, even when we are suffering… especially when we are suffering, and feel we have nothing left to give. Most likely, we DON’T have anything left. But He does. He always does.
Let’s let our little light shine today, and throughout this week, even if we feel we have absolutely nothing. I guarantee you, God has something to share with others through your wonderful, beautiful self… ;)