Wednesday, November 26, 2014

People of Walmart

Dear Walmart Man,

Your timing was impeccable, it really was.  It was a hot July afternoon and I had just exited our neighborhood Walmart with my newborn baby and 4 small children in tow.  It was well over 100 degrees and the heat radiating from the parking lot, and the stiff wind that had just picked up made it feel like the world's largest convection oven. The children were hot, tired, and whiny- and I was on the verge of losing the little sanity I had left.

With a screaming baby in the carseat, I loaded my groceries in the trunk of my car as quickly as I could and looked around for the nearest cart corral.

I wanted to cuss. Parked in front of the nearest cart corral, blocking all access to it, was a pimped out Dodge Neon.  You know, the low-rider with the chrome wheels and the ridiculous, over-sized spoiler on the back.  That *$%&@... He was using the cart corral like a parking spot, with his back end sticking several feet out into the parking lot.

I couldn't leave my cart in the parking lot because the wind would have blown it into another car. The next cart corral was further than I could go, leaving a hot car full of kids and groceries unattended. The thought crossed my mind to take a picture of the *$%&@'s car and send it into "The People of Walmart", the website that showcases the trashiest people who shop there.  And I won't lie... with it came the urge to key the punk's pimped out paint job.

This is where your impeccable timing comes in. I heard your blaring country music first, and then saw you bumping and thumping down the parking lot in your rusty, old pick-up truck.  I saw you park and get out of your car: tight Wranglers, mullet hair, missing teeth, funny walk...

Bitterly, I thought, "There's another person whose picture I could take and send in with Mr. Dodge Neon."

And then you did something that stopped me dead in my pissy, judgmental tracks.  You walked with your awkward, limping gait across the parking lot and cheerfully asked if it would be helpful if you took my cart back to the store for me.

Caught completely off-guard and flustered by this turn of events, I said it would be wonderful and thanked you for your kindness. Speechless, I got in my car and watched you for several minutes as you made your way towards the front of the store. Along the way, you stopped at each person who was loading their car and asked if you could take their cart. By the time you reached the front of the store, you were pushing a half dozen carts.

I was so ashamed of myself, I wanted to cry. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the Dodge Neon blocking the cart corral. It seemed so trivial now.

I've thought of you several times since that day.

Yesterday, I was in the parking lot of a grocery store, trying to load a 50 pound bag of flour into the back of my car. I struggled for several minutes, trying to find a way to do it without hurting my already injured back. I finally got it in and looked up to see a man, whose picture could have also been on the "People of Walmart" website, hurrying toward me.

"I'm sorry I didn't get here in time to help you ma'am. I saw you struggling and wanted to help you.  Next time I hope I'll be around to help." I thought of you again and remembered your kindness just a few months before.

I'm not sure why people like me scoff at those we cruelly label as the "people of Walmart," as if they were a species of their own.  Maybe it's to make ourselves feel better about our own pathetic short-comings.  Maybe by seeing someone who looks like their life is falling apart, we feel like we have it more together than we thought. Maybe we think it washes away all the classless, trashy things we do and say.

But judging by the thoughts that went through my head that day in that Walmart parking lot, who was really the one without any class?

Thank you for reminding me that we can't ever judge people by a snap-shot moment- not even several of them.  Because there are countless snap-shot moments in my own life that I hope and pray people don't judge me by.

Thank you for reminding me that although we are members of the human race, that we are not actually in a race.  Maybe the word "race" makes us think that this is all a competition and that we're all in it against each other.  But even if it were a race, I would have to say that on that hot July day you were, in fact, the winner.

God bless you, Mr. Walmart.


Sincerely,

A very thankful mother of 5


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When heaven and hell are next-door neighbors

Early this morning I awoke from a terrible dream.  In it, masses of people were being hunted down and slaughtered right before my eyes. A massive, unseen enemy was spreading over the city like a plague, destroying everything in its path, using humans whose hearts had failed them, to carry out its evil work.  I wept as I watched children being cornered and viciously destroyed in their innocence. I was being protected by a small team of people who sacrificed their own lives in an effort to save mine.  But as time went on, those of my team who weren’t killed, were discovered to be traitors, and I was left alone to flee.  I was eventually joined by the queen, who seeing the destruction of her kingdom, disguised herself and fled.  Hell was being unleashed in all its fury, right before my eyes.

I awoke to Mila crying at about 5:45 this morning.  Even with the realization that it had all been a dream, it still took me almost an hour to rid myself of the adrenaline and terror that I could feel, literally pulsing through my veins.  I decided the surest way to gain control over the terror I felt would be to write, so here I sit in a darkened house writing, waiting for the sun to peak over the horizon and burn away my terrible dream.

I know where the dream came from, especially in such graphic clarity.  Last night I was watching the news, feeling nauseated from some of the stories- especially those that involved unthinkable crimes against children.  As I knelt down to pray before going to bed, I pled for those children, asking Heavenly Father to strengthen and protect them.

I recently read a family member’s patriarchal blessing that said that before the Second Coming, they would witness things that would be of a nature of to curdle their blood.  My dream was reflection of the horror I feel so often now days as I read the news and hear of so much of the tragedy and evil that is around me.

As I lay in bed this morning, trying to force the graphic images from my dream out of my head, I thought of my own family. We went out to dinner last night and I remember looking at my children, thinking how blessed I am to have these beautiful little humans to raise.  They have such amazing little souls housed in those tiny little bodies.  I thought of the fun we had during Family Home Evening as we laughed and played a silly game together.  It felt like heaven on earth.  It seemed so far away from the horrors of my dream, and yet it had only been a few hours before. 

It’s interesting how heaven and hell can exist so close to each other- almost as if they are next-door neighbors who share a wall.  In one moment we can witness the beauty and majesty of God, and in the very next moment we behold the vileness and cruelties of Satan.  But even with the powers of hell raging, I have the power to choose.  I don't want to wait for heaven to come after I die. I choose heaven here and now.

I feel better now.   I just watched the sun rise outside from my kitchen table as I write.  I watch it every morning.  There’s something about watching the sunrise that starts the day off right- the way the light illuminates the land and dispels the darkness. Living out in the country is amazing.  I have loved every second of it.  The children are awakening and I can hear their muffled voices and footsteps coming from their rooms.  And so the day begins, with all it holds- busyness, excitement, and even frustrations.  Yes, heaven is here and it is now.


The sunrise I watched this morning as I typed.