Sister to Sister: The Dangling Sleeve

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DanglingSleeveIt was just a regular Monday post office run…dropping off packages of books. I noticed that the big green truck parked beside me had the driver door ajar, but both my hands were full and, besides, maybe I shouldn’t close someone else’s truck door. (What if I locked someone out or something?) Upon entering the tiny little building, I was a bit frustrated to see that some little woman had beat me to the one customer window. Not only had she barely beat me in there, but she had obviously packaged her stuff all wrong and the one employee behind the window was having to take off layers and layers of stubborn duct tape, get a new box and then re-package it all over again! My stomach was growling, I had so much to do and my boxes were awfully heavy. Still, I forced a smile and said, “No problem. Sometimes packaging stuff is just hard to do.”

Then the postal worker cued me in. “Yeah, it’s ‘specially hard when you only have one hand.” Then I saw it…the dangling sleeve on the right side of the little woman’s denim shirt. I had complained to my husband that I had way too much to do today. I had been a little frustrated in my mind about those heavy boxes that I held in my TWO arms. I had rearranged scheduling conflicts, frustrated that I had to hold the phone in one hand while multi-tasking with the other while the doctor’s office had me on hold. I was wearing a jacket that kind of bothered me because the zipper was a bit tricky and often required both hands and a brain to get it zipped. I had been in such a hurry that I didn’t even blow my hair dry. “I’ll just crimp it up wet today,” I thought. “I’m already tired and it wears me out to do the hair dryer in one hand and the roller brush in the other…” The little lady in front of me then showed me her new tennis shoes. They were brand spanking new, I could tell, and they fastened with velcro. I told her I liked them as I contemplated how long it must have taken her to put all those layers of duct tape on that box. She had even duct taped the items in place on the inside of the box.

At last the items were repackaged and her shipment now met regulations. She had also saved eleven dollars due to the patience and repackaging of the nice lady on the other side of the window. She reached into her shirt pocket and gave the postal worker a big wad of cash and the worker counted out what she would need, handing her the refolded stack of money along with her change. Then the little woman turned around to me and said, “I’m sorry.”

I finished my work at the window and walked outside to see her, at long last, maneuvering that big green truck out of the little parking lot.

She single-handedly did something large for my careless heart this morning. I remember the words of the Lord:

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched…

Some days I think my hands are full. I’ll bet every single day, her hand truly is. One day, though, it will not matter that she only had one hand. One day, it will be unimportant that I had two. It will only matter what we each did with what we had. Perhaps it’s my wholeness, my wellness, that robs me of time for contemplation and compassion. Maybe it is my ability to multi-task that often keeps me from focusing on the one most important task of soul-winning. Maybe it’s my abilities that blind me to disabilities. Maybe it’s my self-sufficient attitude that keeps me from God-dependent gratitude. Whatever my excuse may be for falling short in his service, she single-handedly grabbed me this morning and jerked me back to the reality that I have great blessings and subsequent responsibilities therein. The dangling sleeve was empty, but full…of what I needed for this day. May God help me to stop selfishly complaining and rejoice in unselfish compliance. And may I fold my hands (both, plural, together) every day and offer Him thanksgiving and praise.

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