It started out as a typical Sunday; I woke up, watched the news, and picked up a friend for church. After church, I did some homework, went to a group meeting, reserved my ticket for the upcoming football game, and went to the grocery store.
Before I went to the store, I was glancing through old pictures of myself. Since I am graduating soon, I wanted to go back in time to see how I have changed. I look older, I feel more mature, and I have definitely changed in looks, both for the better and for the worse. This bugged me. I was frustrated with the way I have come to look “more mature” in a womanly sense. I was frustrated with how my face has seemed to developed “baby cheeks” and how my jeans seemed to fit me looser when I was a sophomore. I was also frustrated with my current job situation. I am graduating in a month, and although I have some leads, I still have no job.
Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too hot.
I knew I needed groceries for the week, so I ventured to the store in a huff. I was angry, I was frustrated, and I was in no mood to shop for food. But, it needed to be done, so to the store I went.
Next thing I knew, my world was rocked.
Every year, my grocery store sells $5 meal packs customers can donate to hungry families during the holiday season. I saw it every year, and I am embarrassed to say, this was the first time I took notice of it. I resolved that at the end of my shopping trip I would buy a brown sack full of food necessities and add it to my shopping expenses.
I bought my oatmeal, my eggs, my apples, etc., and I went to pick up the brown paper sack. In it was nothing special; there was tuna, canned goods, rice and some other things of the holiday variety. I am again embarrassed to say I was calculating in my head if this would put me over my budget or not. I bought it anyway.
Standing in the express checkout line I was nervous and apprehensive. Would I be judged for buying it? Was the lady in front of me looking at me weird? Why was I even doing this? What if I needed that $5 later this week? What difference would it even make? Nevertheless, I pushed myself through these thoughts and bought the $5 bag of food.
The checkout lady immediately made me thankful I did.
“Thank you so much for your donation. It really is a wonderful thing you are doing,” she said to me, looking directly into my apprehensive eyes.
“Oh, yea, you’re welcome,” I said awkwardly, not sure how to respond.
“No, really, thank you,” she persisted. “There are so many families here who need food and it is a pity more people don’t donate.”
I have never felt dumber, more ashamed or more embarrassed in my life. How many times had I walked past that same display in the last four years? How many times had I seen someone at this very grocery store struggling to pay, while I stood happy and comfortable with my debit card in hand? I mean, honestly, I live in a city where the poverty rate is double the national average, and earlier in the day my biggest worry was about the puffiness of my face…
This checkout lady broke my heart; she appreciated literally the littlest thing I could do to make a difference. I mean, the bag was $5, and I was actually apprehensive about whether or not it would put me over my better than most, college budget.
With only a month left in school, I resolved to change my outlook. I worried about graduation, a job, my weight, my grades, my missing assignments and whether or not our football team would win. At the same time, people living less than a mile from me were worried about where their next meal would come from, if their children would go to bed hungry, if they could turn their heat on, or if the would be able to buy their children Christmas gifts.
I am not writing this to make anyone feel guilty or sad; however, I think everyone could benefit from a new outlook on life. We should be thankful for what we are blessed with instead of complaining about what we want. We should be helping those who are less fortunate instead of hording more than we need just in case we want to buy something extra. We should be going above and beyond giving a $5 dollar bag of food to a family in need.
Personally, I should be blessing my friends with kindness, helping others when I feel they need it or just showing love to those who seem down. Instead of wrapping my head in thoughts of my future, thoughts of my past, and thoughts of others’ opinions; because, that’s all they are. Thoughts.
Instead, I should be taking action. Small acts of thankfulness and love won’t always be appreciated, but that one act of unselfishness gave me more joy in my heart than any job I acquired, pound I lost, or cute outfit I wore out.