I had a full blown case of the blues swirling around inside me, but looking back now, I probably couldn’t have told you why. I’m not sure I even knew myself.
Perhaps my internal struggle stemmed from the fatigue of battling low blood iron levels, or maybe it was just the stress of working in a busy office, playing catch up after a natural disaster. But whatever the reason, I could easily imagine being tucked away into a cozy corner, my favorite mug of herbal tea in one hand, and a good book in the other, soft classical tunes setting the stage for a few moments alone.
It was October 2016, and Hurricane Matthew had recently ripped through the east coast of Florida, leaving a trail of devastation in it’s wake. But thankfully, my family and I were fine. No major damage to speak of at home, and the worst was behind us as the storm slowly disbanded, following a northern track to finish out it’s course.
So why the unsettled frame of mind? Why the tugging and pulling, the stilted dance with soft rhythms of discouragement? Good questions. But ones I chose to push aside,chalking up the emotions to “one of those days”, deciding instead to prepare for an afternoon walk to the nearby coffee shop.
That’s when I heard it. The voice of a coworker filtering across my desk in low, subdued tones, giving an update on the tree in her house – A large tree toppled by Hurricane Matthew that unexpectedly brought a world of change, crashing into the house she and her husband rented for eight years.
To make matters worse, they were being displaced for an indefinite period, scrambling to salvage furniture and make temporary living arrangements until new accommodations were available.
On my way out the door, I paused, allowing the news to sink in, suddenly convicted over the selfishness of my earlier mood.
In a moment, everything changed.
Walking across the parking lot, crunching loose gravel and a kaleidoscope of fallen leaves on a warm autumn afternoon, a new question came into focus.
What can I do to brighten her day?
It was a simple phrase, but one that turned the tide in a way I didn’t expect, my own problems fading into the background like unimportant baggage on a cross country trip, too cumbersome and heavy to shoulder any longer.
The mission took on purpose. It became about her, not me.
It took on the form of a sweet treat from the local Starbucks menu, carefully wrapped and placed on my teammate’s desk, a humble offering of care and concern.
The stark reality of her situation remained, but a few heartfelt words of gratitude and the light in her eyes let me know the day had been brightened, if even just a little.
But walking away, what really struck me was the transformation inside my own heart, the new outlook and the lighter steps that came from setting my focus on spreading joy into the life of another.
What a difference such a journey makes. I pondered it then, and I reflect upon it now, thinking of the words of Christ, referenced in Acts 20:35.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
And I know these are words I want to hide inside my heart, protecting them as though my very life depends on it.
Because I believe it does.
And along the journey, I think maybe yours does too. Though we don’t give in order to receive, it’s in the giving that we shall receive.
Joy for today. Strength for tomorrow. And the unexpected gift of a brighter day, through shining His light in the direction of a fellow traveler.