The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 3) expresses that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. He goes on to list a variety of circumstances and their opposites. This is valuable wisdom. One of the ways that it impacts my life is by my continuous striving to strike a balance between a time to be independent and a time to be supported.
Sometimes the matter of independence versus support is not really a choice. Recently, none of my usual assistants were available to accompany me to the second-hand shop where I hoped to buy a costume for a ’50s and ’60s party. If I was not willing to go it alone, there would be no hope of a costume for me. There have been times in my life in which I assume that I am going to need the support of a trained assistant for things like going to the bank or grocery store. If I force myself to be independent because I have no trained assistant to accompany me, I often discover I can do this on my own because other people are willing to jump in to help!
Discovering that I do not need support for a task is liberating because it means that I can be more spontaneous, and I do not need to worry about the limits of an assistant’s salary. My costume-finding expedition was going to be a little more involved than locating the bank card in my wallet or placing grocery bags on the back of my wheelchair, so I was pretty sure this was not the occasion for such a glorious discovery. A successful mission to the second-hand shop would mean not only asking a sales representative to help me locate suitable items for the ’50s and ’60s party, but also making sure they fit somehow and figuring out a way to dress myself before going to the party that night.
I entered the store and made my way to the checkout counter to ask if someone could please help me locate items which might be suitable for the party. The sales representative found a few options and asked “Do you want to try them on?”
“I do but, I don’t have anyone to help me get changed right now. I could buy a couple of outfits, hopefully one of them fits and then my friend can help me change before we go to the party tonight. Would it be okay if I returned any clothes that do not fit in a couple of days? “
“Sure,” she said, “or, would you like me to help you?”
I said, “That would be amazing! Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”
“I’m good with it,” she said “I would love to help!”
This was astonishing to me. I rarely try clothes on in store because it is such an ordeal. Yet, there I was trying on not one, not two, but three different outfits before finding the perfect one. Before I left, the sales representative also helped me find the best accessories for my party outfit. As I was leaving, I thanked her and excitedly informed her manager about how she went far above and beyond! I was very happy to be wearing my party outfit out of the store and go directly from there to the party without any of the prematurely anticipated difficulties.
The sales representative’s willingness to go above and beyond filled us both with delight and made it clear that sometimes God provides needed support through unexpected people in unexpected places.