If you read my blog, you know sometimes I get down — or angry or frustrated — and Jesus has to show up and tell me to simma down. I make myself tell you about those times because I want to be real with you. If I’m honest about the not-so-great stuff, maybe you’ll believe me when I tell you about the good things. Besides, real is the only thing worth offering folks anyway.
I’m going to get real today.
Husband is a federal employee. He’s worked over a month without pay now, and there’s no end in sight. We’re worried about money.
Does God have my back? OF COURSE. Does it FEEL like God has my back? MEH.
Buckle up. I’m gonna get realer…
When I feel low, I leave the upper middle class community I live in (but really should not live in), and I drive to Porter, Texas, where folks are…
How do I say it and show the Good I mean?
They have less money, yes, but it’s Something Else. When I go to Porter, I feel like I’m back home in rural Preble County, Ohio, where folks are just folks and life is often hard but there’s still time to smile and be kind to each other.
So tonight when Husband says, “Let’s go to Little Caesars in Porter. Cheap pizza.” I'm ON it. I grab my keys and say, "Let's do it."
We drive six miles to Porter, Texas, to buy a $6 pizza. As I stand in line with the Porterites, a calm comes over me. A large man in a faded Duck Dynasty T-shirt turns to us and smiles, running his hand over his shaven head.
“Just got a haircut,” the man says. His smile is wide and genuine. He’s clearly very pleased with the haircut.
“Looks good,” Husband responds.
The large man leans forward to peer into the kitchen.
“Got five of ‘em working back there,” he says, and nods his head with approval.
A short, dark-complected man in a baseball cap and faded Levis slips past all of us, enters a code into the tall Little Caesars PizzaPortal and pulls out two pizzas from a heated compartment marked JESUS T.
The large man in the Duck Dynasty shirt and I are fascinated by the PizzaPortal.
“Hey, man,” Duck Dynasty Man asks JESUS T, “did ya’ll just order that online?”
“Yup,” answers JESUS T.
“And pay for it too?” DDM wants to know.
“Wow,” says DDM to Husband and me. “Gotta remember that.”
“Me too,” I pipe in.
The woman at the register has all the prices memorized. DDM orders 3 pizzas, a liter of Pepsi, wings and breadsticks and still the woman can tell him the price before she rings it up. Someone in the line says “Wow” when the computer screen confirms the woman’s total is right.
DDM puts the Pepsi under his arm and stacks the wings and breadsticks on the pizzas. He turns and faces Husband and me, and he grins. “Ya’ll have a good night,” he says.
I don’t know what it is about DDM that makes me feel suddenly less heavy of heart, but I feel my spirits lift. “You too!” I call out to him.
I relax, relax, relax into it all. We’re all just regular folks. Just folks buying $6 pizzas.
Husband and I order 2 pizzas and pay $12 dollars for them. We turn towards the door – an older woman with a fuzzy blonde ponytail and heavy eye makeup moves quickly to hold it open for us. As we slip out and head towards the car, I hear a strange melodic twangy sound. I turn around sharply, and there he is.
It’s man in a beat-up brown cargo jacket. He’s singing. AND HE’S PLAYING A UKULELE.
I don’t know what the man is singing, but I hear the word “miracle” in one of the lines. And I’M NOT SAYING he looks exactly like Jesus, but, guys, he DOES have long dark hair and a beard, and his eyes are large and soulful.
There’s a cylinder-shaped tin can in front of him. I dig through my purse and find 2 one-dollar bills. I don’t care that I’m going to be poor soon. I want the man with the ukulele to have my 2 dollars.
I take the dollars back and put them in the can.
His eyes light up. He smiles and thanks me. Three times.
And a feeling comes over me And I just…
Maybe that’s why Jesus liked hanging with the regular folks, I think.
Don’t get me wrong. I want money. And I want EVERYONE to have lots and lots of money.
That night…standing with the folks in line at Little Caesars waiting to buy $6 pizzas…talking to a large man in a faded Duck Dynasty t-shirt...turning around to see a man-who-looks-like-Jesus playing the ukulele…well, it’s the best night I’ve had since the government shutdown began. And the richest I’ve felt since it shut down too.
So here’s what I’m thinking now:
Does God have my back? OF COURSE. Do I FEEL like God has my back? WHY YES. YES I DO.
Thank you, Porterites.
Be kind to the federal employees in your world, my friends.Their world is an uncertain place right now.And yes, they know it's not cancer. Or a hurricane.They know that there are other, heavier crosses to bear. BUT STILL They're scared.Some of them are out of money already.Others will join their ranks each week.They're worried about keeping a roof over their children's headsand food on their families' tables. And medical bills.
Reach out. Be kind. Help if you can.
Be kind to everyone, really.Because you never know...Sometimes the person next to you is feeling low,and for reasons she won't completely understand,the warmth of your smile will lift her spirits.