Straight out of high school, I worked at a small meat packing facility. My job was to grind three or four hundred pounds of beef every morning and bulk-pack it for shipping. The tubs of beef weighed eighty to a hundred pounds each, too much for the average eighteen-year-old girl to lift. But I figured out a way to shuffle them off the cutting table onto my shoulder. Then all I had to do was stand up under them, stagger to the grinder, and heave them into the grinding pan.
There would have been five or ten strong men at the ready to help, but I didn’t want to ask. I was too shy, or too proud to admit that I couldn’t do it myself. So instead I permanently damaged my shoulder.
This fall I’ve had to grit my teeth and tighten my belt financially. Last winter I had nice clothes but I’ve since shrunk out of them. No shopping spree could be justified. So though my coat was shabby to the point of embarrassment, I decided to keep wearing it and wait for the right opportunity.
Well, last week my church hosted their Thanksgiving Food and Clothing Drive. Free food and clothes for anyone who needed them. I had an extended argument with myself, going “you ARE poor” and “no I’m NOT” back and forth and back and forth. Whether I fit the criteria wasn’t the true issue. The real issue was shopping among the tables, and then being seen up in the choir in my new threads. If I walked through those doors, I would admit that I couldn’t provide for myself just then.
I sensed God saying ‘let me provide for you, here.” Still I hemmed and hawed. Finally, I was running nearby so I wrestled myself into the building, looking like a schlep with my windblown hair and my sweaty gear. Even when I had my bag in hand and was looking through the stacks of gently used jeans, I had a hard time admitting to my friendly church family that I wasn’t there to volunteer. I was there to ‘shop’.
I found some clothes, but in the end I wonder if it was more a lesson in humility than in provision.
“God gives grace to the humble,” the Apostle Peter said. I remind myself that independence is good, but when I ‘John Wayne’ my way through life, a lone gunmen against my battles, I miss out on the greatest sources of strength I have: my family, and my God.
Why bust my shoulder, when a stronger arm can help me lift?