Saturday, January 24, 2015

Giving Away Joy

We had our first significant snow of the season last night, so today we stayed in. I finished Margaret Feinberg's Fight Back With Joy. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer and decided to...well, to fight back with joy. 

One of the stories that really hit me was how she decided one day to buy a bunch of red balloons, because who doesn't love red balloons? One by one, she handed them out to other patients before her treatment. 


She gave away joy. 

While I was reading this book, I thought of a precious young woman I've never actually met, but have been praying for. Melanie (not her real name) is a friend of a friend who was brutally attacked in broad daylight and in a public park. She was raped, strangled and left for dead. Someone found her and called 911. On top of this, Melanie has been fighting cancer. She's feeling defeated and alone. 


I kept thinking, "Melanie needs to read this. I'm going to give her the book. And I'm going to give her a red balloon!"  I decided to go get a balloon and give my friend both the balloon and the book tomorrow at church, and she could pass them on to Melanie.


I zipped out to the party store. They were closed! What? Maybe they never opened because of the snow. Then I realized that I could get a balloon at the supermarket! But of course, there was no one in the floral department, and there were no red balloons! 


Meanwhile, I spotted a yellow smiley face balloon. It was perfect! Better than the red balloon!

I grabbed the smiley face balloon and continued my shopping meanderings. The place was empty. I was looking at cards, when suddenly I felt someone tap the balloon. 

I turned around to see a young girl with special needs smiling at the smiley face. 


"Balloon!" she announced.


"Yes." I smiled at her.


"Pretty!"


"Yes, it is!"


She pointed to the other balloons by the checkout. Balloons that embodied the Frozen movie. 


"Elsa!"


"Yes," I said, "That's Elsa."


Her father interrupted, pushing her along. "Come on!"


"And Anna!"


"Yes! From Frozen. I see them. They're pretty too."


"Come on!" her Father urged her on. Then to me, "I'm sorry."


"Oh, no, it's okay. No need to be sorry." I said.


After all, I was supposed to be spreading joy! And that's exactly what this young girl was spreading to me. 


Then I thought, 


Why do people feel the need to apologize for the childlike behavior of their children with special needs? Why does anyone feel the need to apologize for their children interrupting another's space? When did we all become so introspective that we can't allow interaction from others, especially those who haven't yet learned all the "rules"? How sad.

When I got to the checkout, the girl and her family were at the checkout next to me. As I waited my turn, I felt the nudgings of the Holy Spirit. I knew what was coming.

Give her the balloon.

"What? No, God. That's Melanie's balloon."


Just a word of advice...don't ever use No and God in the same sentence.


My stomach tumbled and my heart raced. That's how I knew it was God. Sure, I could say no, but I knew from past experience that I'd feel terrible later for not having listened.


So I went back to the floral department to find another balloon, even though I knew there wasn't one. Nothing. I went back to my spot in line, and the family was still there next to me. 


And there it was again.


Give her the balloon.

My turn came and the cashier rang up the balloon. While she was ringing up the other items, I said, "I just need to make a little detour. I'll be right back."


I walked over and tapped the father on the arm. When he turned around, I asked, "Is it okay if I give this balloon to your daughter?"


"Well, sure!" he replied. She turned to me and I handed her the balloon. "Here, I want you to have this because you're so happy."  And I went back to my checkout next door. 


She took the balloon and shoved it at her father's chest. 


"I don't want it! You take it!"


Hey, you have to want it! That's Melanie's balloon and God told me to give it to you, so you have to want it! 


Oh, now who was the child?


Just because God tells you to give something away doesn't mean it will always be received. Do it anyway.

The father said, "Sometimes she just gets a little shy." It was obvious that she didn't know what to do with the attention that was given her. But I smiled and said, "You take it home and later you'll enjoy it." The father and daughter both thanked me. 

Meanwhile, the cashier wasn't sure what to make of it. She told me, "That was a really nice thing to do."


Did I tell her that God told me to give it to her? No. I just said, "I felt that it was something I had to do. Sometimes you just have to do that."


Well, maybe my boldness in declaring whose idea it really was will come in time.


While I was pondering all of this in the car, a song was playing. It wasn't until I turned the corner to my street that I realized what the song was saying. Have a listen to Big Daddy Weave's Love Come to Life:



I was debating whether or not to even share this because we are supposed to do things and not boast of them. My purpose is not to boast, but to encourage you to listen when God speaks. When you feel His nudging to do something that seems unusual, do it anyway. Don't hesitate, because if you wait too long, the moment may be gone. And you'll wish you had acted when you had the chance. 

When we give joy, we get joy.

Now, what about this red balloon for Melanie? Well, all in God's timing. I have to trust that this trip to the grocery store wasn't ever really about Melanie's balloon.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mary


Sharing this post with The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Still SaturdayBlessing Counters, Monday Musings, Playdates With God, Sharing His Beauty, Good Morning Monday, Unite, #RaRa Cheerleading,  Grace - Truth, Faith Filled Fridays

18 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story at The Weekend Brew. God will often tell us to do things, even if He knows it won't be well received on the other end. He will often test our obedience to see if we will obey. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Melanie. That is so hard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Barbie. I never actually met "Melanie" but she is a friend of my friend's, and just from what she's told me, I love her and feel very protective of her. Kind of strange given that I've never met her. Still, when God puts things in our hearts, it is not for us to question why.

    ReplyDelete
  3. God's promptings are real and you're right-no and God in the same sentence is never a good idea. Love how you shared this because God taught you as well as us. Like Barbie said-glad you shared at The Weekend Brew.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's obvious that you have a giving heart like your Father, Mary. I'm so glad you shared the way you want to stay tender to the Lord's promptings--no matter whether the promptings make sense or not. We do need to be "peculiar people" so that we "shine like stars" to a watching world. Who knows how your act of kindness will impact that girl, her father, and the checker. And as far as "Melanie" is concerned, I'm sure God has another way you can encourage her. Just listen ... cuz you are good at that, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Beth. Yes, peculiar is certainly a good definition of who we are when we do something out of the ordinary in order to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing at Sunday Stillness. And this is a beautiful story of hearing God's voice. We need to share this more often - not boasting - but sharing how He speaks to us.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Janis. It's such a joy to listen to Him. And obey!

      Delete
  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing it. My brother has special needs, so this account particularly warmed my heart.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Katie. I was at a loss for words as to how to describe the girl without sounding callous. Special needs would have done the trick!

      Delete
  7. I'm filled with joy after reading your post! My heart is soaring and saying, "Yes". We need to say, "Yes" to God more often in those uncomfortable or awkward moments when we are shy or have other plans. This has blessed me and renewed me tremendously. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Blessings,
    Janis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad it resonated with you, Janis! Thanks for visiting.

      Delete
  8. I am so glad that you did decide to share this story. I really warmed my heart. And, everything happened exactly as God had planned :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, although I still haven't connected with my friend from church! But I will...in God's timing. Maybe "Melanie" isn't at that place yet where she can receive it.

      Delete
  9. This is great and I am so glad that you did what God wanted you to do. I have felt this too and you just need to do it, one day we will stop hesitating and just do it the first time. You are a great encouragement to me. Thanks for sharing this great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terri, if we could all learn to NOT hesitate when we hear the Lord speak, like the disciples did. Drop our nets and just follow. So simple, not easy. Our humanity and ego keeps getting in the way.

      Delete
  10. So glad you shared! God's p romptings, when obeyed are always rewarded! Maybe the father needed the balloon as a reminder that there are people who care. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaylene, I never thought of it from the father's perspective. Wow, good insight. Thanks for that.

      Delete