Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Find a penny....pick it up

Good morning.  I returned home yesterday after spending nearly a week away attending a professional development conference for the college and an extended weekend with Bruce. It was an awesome time away but it’s time to get back to the routine today. I learned many things to benefit me professionally, but mostly, I learned a lot of life lessons to enrich me personally and I am peaceful and happy today.

A couple of days after Christmas Bruce bought me a pair of diamond stud earrings….”just because.”  While it is evident to most that I am a ‘girly-girl” and I have a lot …..okay…too many…..clothes, shoes, accessories, etc., most of my things are second-hand or thrift store finds. I have a lot of costume jewelry but own only a few things that have any monetary value. These earrings were my first diamond earrings and although I was very flattered, I admit, I was also a bit apprehensive about wearing them because I was afraid I would lose them. I even went and had a 2nd set of holes pierced in my ears a few weeks back so that I wouldn’t have to take the earrings in and out, increasing the risk of dropping one down the sink or otherwise losing it. I am just now getting to the point where I am comfortable enough to just leave them in the top holes and forget about them.

My fear became a reality on Valentine’s Day afternoon when Bruce said, “Where’s your earring?”  I gasped as I reached up to find an empty hole. I was immediately overcome with sadness and SHAME….and felt my throat tighten and my eyes filled up with tears. I became somewhat frantic and I began to scour the hotel room for that earring. “See,” I told him, “this is why I shouldn’t have anything valuable….I don’t deserve nice things because I don’t know how to take care of them….” Other similar sentiments poured out as I tried to find the words to convey my sorrow and apologize for losing his gift. I really was devastated, but not just because of the monetary value of the earring, but because I felt like I had disappointed him by losing it. As I look back on it now, it seems a bit silly that I reacted so strongly because it was just an earring, and although the pair cost a couple of hundred dollars, it was still just an earring….not an ear, as Bruce reminded me while trying to comfort me, and I didn’t lose it on purpose; the back just came loose and the earring fell out. He was great about the whole thing and handled the incident beautifully…..remaining calm, wiping my tears, telling me it was okay, and assuring me of his love. He later told me he had to fight back a big laugh as I sat there with tears rolling down my cheek when I told him that, “from now on….ALL future jewelry that he purchases for me should be cubic zirconia!”  

Even though I felt a bit better after his comforting words, I wouldn’t be able to make peace with the situation until I looked for the earring, even though the odds of finding a small solitaire earring in a large hotel would be nearly impossible. I called the places where we were that day to alert them; I went through my clothing piece by piece, stripped the bed of the covers, checked around the hotel room floor and said all the prayers I knew to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items.  Still, no earring. As a last ditch effort, I decided to retrace my steps through the hotel to the car, knowing that the likelihood of ever seeing that earring again was slim to none. The hotel was packed this weekend with families enjoying the Valentine’s/President’s Day/Winter Break weekend with their children and the weather was cold and snowy, which meant the hotel carpet was full of crumbs and pieces of salt tracked in from the sidewalk. How would I ever find a little diamond earring?  Common sense told me it was a hopeless cause, but my strong will (better known as stubborn bullheadedness) told me that I would never accept reality and forgive myself until I tried my best to find it.  And so I went, retracing my steps……down the hall, on the elevator, through the lobby, into the subzero temperatures to the car….with no luck. I felt deflated and sad.  Well, at least I gave it my best effort, but I said one last  prayer to St. Anthony as I made my way back to the hotel, now full of people and a bunch of little kids checking in. as I entered the lobby, I kept my head down because I didn’t want anyone, especially a child, to see me crying. As I walked, I happened to look down and noticed a penny lying on the ground on the salt covered carpet, surrounded by a group of people. Typically I would have just walked by that penny….subconsciously thinking that its value was not worth the effort of bending down to pick it up….but the little ditty, “find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck” came to mind and I certainly needed a bit of luck, although I don’t believe in luck; I believe in God’s blessings.  I reached down to pick up that penny and lo and behold….lying right there, next to the penny….in the midst of a room full of people….was my earring!   WHAT????? Seriously?  Are you kidding me…..there’s people everywhere….there are children all over the place….I hadn’t been standing at that desk since early that morning……REALLY??????   Yes!  I reached down and sure enough…my earring was there….fully intact….not even bent from being trampled on or anything.  I was elated!!!!  Thank you God!

I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to tell Bruce. He was as amazed as I found that earring.  Although I am incredibly thankful for finding the earring, I am more grateful for the life lesson involved. God often allows things to happen to us to teach us things….or perhaps better phrased….God speaks to us in ALL THINGS if we look  and are open to Him. And so… I prayed and pondered…..what/why/how would my journey be strengthened by a little earring?

  As I thought about the little penny lying on the ground, pointing to the earring, I couldn’t help but think about how many times I walked by a penny….simply because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to pick it up. After all, how much is a penny worth these days anyway?  It’s just an insignificant little coin that the world puts little value on; I’d never pass up a quarter, or even a dime, on the other hand. Hmmm………I thought, as I asked myself…. how often I walked by, ignored, or shrugged off that which the world considers “insignificant, simple, of little worth…” etc.  How many people have I considered, “not worth my time or effort” because they are different than me?  How many times have I mumbled or felt bad when I lost just a “pound” or none at all, or took just a few steps when I was regaining my mobility when others were making faster progress?  How many times did I fail to give thanks and rejoice that I got through “one meal” without giving in to temptation; or cut out 100 calories, or made just a tiny bit of progress?  How many times have I failed to rejoice in what the world considers an insignificant victory….5 pounds….1 week without a cigarette…..one quarter mile….10 sit-ups?  How many times have I failed to say THANK YOU….to God and to others for the simplest act of kindness….the smallest sign of progress……the littlest blessings that surround me always? How many sunsets…or wildflowers….or birds singing….or smiles from strangers have I failed to notice? More times than I care to admit.  AND YET……and YET…..and YET……just like that little penny….those things that are most insignificant….those little victories….those individuals that are the ‘least among us”…….often point the way to that which is of more value.   Had that penny not been there to catch my eye….had I just walked by like I’ve done countless times…..had I not decided for whatever reason that today it was worth my effort to pick it up…. I would have likely never found that precious earring and had I not lost that earring, I would not have had the opportunity to see how Bruce would react to my disappointment; my accident; my tears. All turned out beautifully….and once again….God spoke to my heart in the midst of the ordinary.

My friends…. As you continue through your journey, you are going to encounter times when you feel like you are not making any progress. You are going to encounter plateaus, set-backs, and periods of stagnation. You are going to encounter times in your prayer life; your relationships; your job when you feel like your efforts are futile and worthless. You are going to feel like it is hopeless and that you are  never going to get where you want to be…..physically, mentally, emotionally. You are going to want to give up….but I encourage you….when those times happen….think about that little earring….and begin to look for the “little things”….those little ‘pennies” if you will in your life….the smallest amount of progress….the little victories…..and stop and thank God for them…..because those little things, often overlooked by us and those around us…..will likely point to the bigger blessings in life.  I seriously doubt that I will EVER walk by a penny again……even if it’s just to stop and pick it up and hand it to someone else!  Every pound you lose….every step you take…..every positive conversation or thought you have….every day you are blessed with life….is a gift from God.  Rejoice….and be grateful…..for YOU ARE…making progress and YOU ARE….changing your life!!!!