I have received love from total strangers.
I was invited to an event at Sun Valley Community Church (the church I attend) for a Christmas celebration and dinner for single mothers (and some fathers).
Months before (September I believe) this event, I was introduced to a woman…..actually I wasn’t introduced, she found me! This woman at church found me and somehow knew I was a single mother. She spoke to me and asked me so many questions. I shared with her how I felt so confused about the choices I had recently made; I left a well paying job to start over as a stylist and completely felt like I had made a mistake. I shared with her about my failed marriage, and the struggles of raising my daughter as a single mother. My heartbreaks. My frustrations. She gave me so much encouragement and…..something else I wasn’t ready for…..a hug. I am not a hugger (something I am working on) so I didn’t know what to do with that either….. I mean do I hug back? Where do I put my arms? How long do we hug for?
Before I left church that morning, she asked me to write down on a piece of paper my daughter Ava’s biggest wishes, as well as mine. I have to admit I did not know what to write when it came to my list; my biggest wish is not something that can be bought at a store, nor is it something that can be wrapped. Come to think of it, Ava’s biggest wish cannot be bought either. Regardless, I wrote down what she asked; our wishes, our struggles, our hopes.
I left that day a little puzzled because I was not sure what exactly she would do with my list.
Fast forward to December 4th, I was sent an email insisting I come to an event the church was having for single parents. I wasn’t going to make it, I had so many obstacles that would keep me from making the event. However, the leader of the event was very adamant I make it as she shared that there were people waiting for me to come because they had been setting up something special for me as well as other single parents for months now. I did not understand and quite honestly I felt uncomfortable. I knew after speaking with her that there were strangers waiting to give me well….love. I admit, I was afraid to go. I did not want to feel the overwhelming feeling of people showing me love, especially by people I do not know. I mean….who am I to receive so much that I do not deserve? What exactly was going to happen there?
I walked into the church building, was greeted by smiling faces and directed to a beautiful dining room with candle lit center pieces, dimmed lighting, classical Christmas music, and the most tempting dessert table covered with pies, brownies, and tiramisu! Yaaaaaassss please!
We were given dinner, entertainment by two angelic voices who sang O’ Holy Night, and one of the best events of the night was a woman who shared about her experience raising her own kids as a single mom. She was transparent, positive, and encouraging. Her experience transferred a feeling in all of us that we are not alone.
After dinner and words of wisdom we were taken to the auditorium; this is where the tears happened. This is where I watched women stop in there tracks, break into tears of gratitude, and fall to there knees, wondering if this was even real life. At least, I know I was wondering that.
In the auditorium was a room filled with rows and rows of gifts for families. To put into perspective; know when you go to a cemetery and there are rows and rows of tomb stones? Ok, now replace the cemetery setting with an auditorium and replace the tomb stones with mountains and piles of gifts. Got it? Paints quite the picture eh?
Below is my pile. Gifts for Ava and I. Relieved as I would be short on cash for Christmas this year. I was given a miracle.
Yes, I felt it, the over whelming feeling of receiving what I felt I did not deserve. The over whelming feeling that there are people in this world who are selfless, who take the time to make a complete strangers dreams come true.
In a world full of so much bad, there is also a world filled with so much good! I’ve seen it.
I have not opened the gifts as it is not Christmas just yet….however I did open an envelope and a box that were labeled “Open before December 17th”.
Inside the envelope were two tickets to The Nutcracker; this was Ava’s wish. And the box? A little dress and shoes for Ava to wear to The Nutcracker ballet.
This day when I was given so much, I was able to see how I have so much. No, not because of the gifts, but because no matter how much I have been abandoned, rejected, or neglected, there have been even more times when I have been taken care of, listened to, and loved. Funny how the bad can be louder than the good huh? I call that light overcoming darkness. I call that love. I call that well…..God.
There are people out there who genuinely care. My next goal? It’s not to find someone who genuinely cares…it’s to be someone who genuinely cares.
“In this crazy world, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy,. But in the eyes of God, they’re never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is kingdom.” -Henri Nouwen