It was one of those days. About 5:30pm, I was making a stop at Winn Dixie on my way home from work. No doubt the worst time to be in the grocery store, and just about my least favorite thing to do on the way home, but with three kids we go through a minimum of five gallons of milk a week and since I’m not making my own anymore…. there was nothing to do but stop.
I approached the milk case with a sigh. I was glad to be off of work and doing my best to keep my head up. My job in assisted living is a passion, a calling, and a blessing. It also has its difficult moments. Older people tend to throw tact to the wind, and sometimes kindness too, and our residents often give a running commentary on… well, anything and everything. We’ve all had a grandmother or elderly aunt who blurted out “You sure have put on weight,” or “Are you pregnant again?” right in the middle of the family dinner.
These types of remarks are commonplace where I work, and that’s ok. Normally, I let them slide, especially since the occasional “You’re putting on weight” is nothing compared to all the “Honey, you made my day” and “What would I do without you?” and “Sweetheart, you are looking good.” But on this particular day, perhaps it was my mood or elevated stress, I’m not sure, but it seemed as though everything was up for scrutiny, from my middle that needs some “toning up” to the size and placement of my breasts. “You still nursing honey? They’re hangin’ kinda low today. What kinda bra you wearin’?”
I stepped up to the milk cooler beside the milk man who was busy stocking the shelves. “Howya doin” he said without looking up and I answered back in kind as I reached out for a gallon of whole. I was pondering picking up a second gallon when he turned to me and said “You are so pretty.” I looked up at him and started to get tears in my eyes. “Thank you. You have just made my whole day,” I told him. He said “I didn’t expect you to come walkin’ up like that, and I didn’t expect to say that. It just came out. I’m usually shy about sayin’ stuff like that.” Sounds like a pickup line I guess, but I wish you could have heard his tone, very matter of fact, not a hint of suggestion. I thanked him again, not finding any better way to let him know how he had just been a gift to me.
I did grab the second gallon (maybe W/D would sell more milk with more milkmen like that one) and made my way to the checkout with a new outlook. I knew without a doubt that Mr. Winn Dixie Milkman had been a messenger from God to lift me up. A few weeks ago I had asked God to help me approach my marriage with more love, and one specific area I’d been working on is my arrival home from work. My family has normally been home for a few hours and they’re ready to play, often leaving me with no time to decompress from my day and transition to home. This can make for a grouchy wife and mom in that first half hour at home when they’re rarin’ to go and I just want to be left alone. That day, the Winn Dixie milk angel had given me a boost, a leg up from God to help me put my gloomy day behind me and greet the ones I love with my best and not the dregs of me that are left after a long day.
I have two observations from this:
1) How often I hold back a positive remark, and how often I’m free with negative ones. Thank God the milkman had the grace that evening to let the good thoughts come out. I needed to hear them. I want to tighten the weave of the sieve that catches my negative commentary and let the positive commentary virtually flow out unrestricted. So often the opposite is true. We never know what a kind word could mean to someone and it costs us nothing to give one.
2) When we ask God to work in our lives, He will do it. He’s a good Teacher, and even gives openbook tests sometimes! He might even use a Winn Dixie milk guy to give you a hint.