Someone once asked me what I would do differently if I had life to do all over again- the truth is NOT MUCH
. Every action I’ve taken or chosen not to take has led me to today and I am so very grateful for this place. Not wanting to sound overconfident, I quickly took a trip down memory lane and realized that there was one element of my personality that I would like to have changed a bit earlier- the ability to be vulnerable and ask for help.
Growing up in a family-based business, I watched my parents work hard and accumulate all of the things they said they wanted. As a child, I never saw my parents ask for help- they may have asked- but I did not see it. In fact, the impression I received growing up was that if you have a weakness or a need just work through it- that is your personal business and no one needs to be part of it. Curing your own weaknesses and solving your own problems was a badge of honor; something that strong people did. To a certain extent- I still believe there is a lot of value in that perception. However, there was one situation that opened my eyes to the power of GIVING & RECEIVING.
Dean and I had been married for less than a year. We were expecting a child and each of us were working two jobs to try to make ends meet. It was a very difficult time and neither of us had ever considered that budgeting might alleviate some of the financial stress. We were always out of money and even though we tried to hide it (handle your own problems Cheri) somehow one of our employers found out. One evening when I arrived home, I noticed 2 bags of groceries on our porch. I felt a bit like Red from The Shawshank Redemption as I looked around to see if anyone was watching me pick up the bags. No one was watching and I quickly took them inside. I sat at the kitchen table and just cried. There were two kinds of tears streaming down my face that day. One set of pride-filled tears- thinking about how embarrassing it was that someone actually knew how tough times were for Dean and I. The other set of tears were filled with gratitude for the gift that was delivered to the doorstep. It did not happen right away, but over time I came to realize that the givers of the groceries had been able to pay their success forward. The receivers of the gift were being tossed a baton- one that, in time would need to be delivered to another human who needed help. We all need help from time to time, even the most prideful among us. Setting that pride down and letting people know you need help can actually be one of the greatest gifts you can give! We eventually found out that Mr & Mrs Azar had been the givers of the groceries- that they felt compelled to lift a little burden from our shoulders and they LOVED being able to do that for us. They had struggled mightily when they first started out in business and now being able to pay that forward filled their hearts. It also did something else- it kept the circle of GIVING alive and well and it planted the seed of the giver I would one day be able to be! Whenever we have the chance to bless someone, we are taken back to that moment in time when another human being looked carefully enough to get past the ‘I have it all together façade and took an action that changed everything.
Our world is in a very bruised space right now, with lots of hurting people all around. We never know what people really need but if you pay close attention, you may be able to see the need for a kind word, a warm embrace, or maybe even a bag of groceries!