What is real hardship?

When the fatigue is so intense that you feel ill, you know you are tired.  I was.

I shifted my grandson from one hip to the other as I tried, in vain, to mail the package at the automated machine outside the post office lobby.   The machine would not read my card.  I looked at the line inside.

“Has to be at least 10 to 12 people, Lord.  I don’t think I can stand up that much longer.  But I need to get this package mailed for Sharon.  Oh, Lord, help me!”

As soon as Allen and I got in line, two more people lined up behind.

“Thank You, Lord.  That’s two behind, rather than in front.”

Allen is a precious two year old, with only occasional (for the moment) flare-ups of  “No!”.  He is my errand buddy three mornings each week while my daughter has much-needed time alone with my other grandson, who is four going on fourteen.

Allen was content to sit quietly on my left hip and check out the details of the unfamiliar place and the new faces, many of course, with smiles for him.  After ten minutes of not moving an inch, my hip, however, demanded relief and I set Allen down on the floor.  He circled around me, looking up at the smiling faces while I just tried to brace myself to avoid swaying.   After ten more minutes, still not moving one inch, I began praying in earnest.  I felt dizzy and, unusual for me, had no snack in my purse.

Finally, the line moved forward enough so that I could sit on the edge of the low counter loaded with mailing supplies, certain that if a postal worker saw me my face would tell the story and they would just let me sit.

And I sat.  For ten more minutes, trying but not managing to avoid complaining.    At first there had been ten people in front of us.  By the time I sat down, that number was down to five, four of whom were women, each of whom was old enough to be either a mom or grandmother, old enough to hear the sounds of a happy toddler wondering around behind them.

As each minute ticked by, I grew more and more resentful.  And my face showed it.  As Allen meandered around, charming everyone in line, one woman – ahead of me in the line – turned back to ask me, as she moved sideways “Can you see him now?”

All I could manage was a nod of the head. The words “thank you” just would not come out.

“How,” I screamed inside my head, “can you see me sitting here, obviously dead on my feet! How can you see the toddler I have with me! and my age! and not offer to trade places with me in line?  If you were ten people ahead, I could understand but surely no one would object since it would not make any difference to anyone behind us. How?!!!!”

And I felt that way until we got home, to our comfortable air-conditioned home.

“Forgive me, Lord, for my attitude.  How many people in some countries stand in line for days, just to get water or a tiny bit of food for their starving families?  Thank You for reminding me of the untold blessings You have showered on me. Forgive me for not praying more for those who are in real hardship.  Help me live unselfishly, as You did Lord Jesus.”

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