June 3, 2013

The Gift Of Time

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:03 pm by Broken & Brave

Earlier today my husband gave me one of his watches to use for work. I am a personal trainer and I prefer to use a stop watch with my clients versus counting repetitions of any particular exercise. I find when clients work for time it gives each person freedom to decide how hard they are going to push themselves. After all, I am their structure and motivator, but the best and deepest motivation to succeed must come from within. In all of life we must decide if we will push deeper to find that next gear of potential and possibility that resides within each one of us or if we will remain the same. Some push through and tap into it, while others back off and coast in the safety of the comfort zone.

I’ve been wanting a wrist watch with a stop watch built in so I could time my clients as they work instead of a hand held device. I was very excited to receive this watch. Now I can be hands free to assist and change weights or equipment and to encourage my clients! I have mentioned before my love for watches in general. I have always loved watches. I can remember it being a favorite gift from my parents on more than one occasion as a teenage girl. So, as I was cleaning up from a morning of training ladies, I reflected on my new watch and also my curious fascination with watches in general. This lead my thoughts to a watch I owned several years ago that is no more. Here resides the direction and purpose of my story…

This watch was indeed the finest piece of jewelry I have ever owned. My husband bought it for me many years ago. We planned the whole day, a trip to San Francisco for fun and a planned stop to the Gucci store. This watch was gorgeous. It was a delicate silver chain link with a rectangular and curved face with delicate hands and no numbers. It was the prettiest little bracelet. The outside edges of the face was completely lined with tiny crushed diamonds for extra sparkle. I also owned a diamond tennis bracelet and the two together were a beautiful pair. When I wore one you can be sure the other dangled beside it upon my wrist~side by side. I don’t have either one anymore. I was robbed and they were both stolen.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. I had just returned from a business trip out of town and had taken the jewelry with me. I was going to be putting them in their “safe place” later that day, but oh how the children were begging me to go to the park. So, I loaded them all in the car and decided I would drop off my jewelry after the short play at the park. We went to a park that was familiar and we visited this particular park often. It was located right across the street from my church. It was a busy day at the park. Not only were there many people their sitting at the picnic tables and children on the playground, but their were road construction workers doing something to the street. I was so nervous to have the jewelry in my bag (which was a brand new all leather designer handbag, a gift for my birthday I believe), so I decided to do something I NEVER DO which is tuck the bag under my seat and I left it in the car. After all, we were only going to be there about 20 minutes, it was mid-afternoon and I was only about 40 feet from my car.

20 minutes came and went and I rounded up the children and we scampered back to the car to finish our errands and our day. My daughter, who was maybe 10 years old at the time, was the first to reach the car. I was focused on the younger children when I heard her call out to me that the window was smashed on our vehicle. My heart sank and I felt all of the blood leave my face. No doubt it had all drained to my stomach which felt like it was about to be sick. Grief overwhelmed me and I prayed the worst hadn’t happened, but it had. My purse was gone and so were the thieves. 20 minutes, a swarm of activity around in the middle of the day and they had managed to go unnoticed, with me (a very suspicious person by nature) only a few feet away. Inside my purse was not only the Gucci timepiece and diamond tennis bracelet, but I also had a few pieces of high end costume jewelry and another everyday watch that I had taken on my trip with me. No doubt the thieves made some money on my goods, after they hit the gas station, mini-mart and Carl’s Jr with my debit card, of course.

I felt so sick to my stomach I literally thought I would throw up right there. I sat on the grass nearly in shock. See, not only was it rough to loose all of these pieces, but my grandmother’s diamonds were in there to boot. They were two of the cuts from her wedding set and my parents had then extracted and fastened into a pair of earring for my 21st birthday. I was very close with my grandparents and they had been gone for several years. These earrings were covered by insurance, but insurance cannot replace sentiment. 

I had been through a lot the previous two years. So much that I wondered if God had forgotten His word..the part where He says He will not give us beyond what we could bear. I knew I was a fairly resilient person and I was strong on the inside (have always had a “no quit” mindset) but I truly believed that what ever it was God was grooming me for…HE HAD THE WRONG GIRL! Truly He must think I am stronger than I really was? Remember, this event alone would be sickening but no one was hurt so,  that makes it something to get over and move on.  I must  stress to you without going into details, I had been to hell and back those previous two years. So, this event, on top of all I had been dealing with put me over the edge. My kids didn’t know what to think, they’d not seen me so somber before. I just sat there on the grass. I wasn’t crying. I didn’t yell or scream or anything like that. I didn’t rebuke them for wanting to go to the park. I just sat there devastated that God had allowed this to happen in the midst of an already extremely testing season of my life. I felt like it was the last straw, I had nothing left. I was so broken, so weary, so discouraged of heart. I cried out to God in that very moment. I didn’t blame Him, accuse Him or curse Him. I called out to my Daddy and asked, “Why? Why did you allow this to happen?” Then, the voice of the Holy Spirit struck my heart hard and deep. It was such a pivotal moment for me. My God replied…

“Because I want to use your voice.”

I was a bit surprised by the clarity in which I heard the Holy Spirit speak, but I also wondered at the same time, “use my voice for what?” I admit that at that time I didn’t understand why nor did I understand what He planned to use my voice for. I guess I am still learning this today, but it gets clearer and clearer to me all of the time.  But on this day, I just sat and prayed (and felt really sick, literally) and as I did so something unique happened.

At that moment a car pulled up behind mine and about 5 young men, colored with red, got out of the car and stood there, facing me and exposing their “color”. I wondered if they were the young men who had robbed me and they had come back to “brag” about it? I will never know. I just looked at them and then I began to pray for them. I knew they must have had things happen in their lives so opposite of mine. How else could their eyes look so cold? No body is born with coldness in their heart or eyes, it comes through negative encounters over and over again. The heart begins to shut down to protect itself from hurt or pain. The more it hurts the more it shuts down the darker it becomes and the more capable of the unthinkable begins.

I don’t know if these boys had anything to do with my robbery. For all I know it was the man sitting with another at the picnic bench in his business suit. I have enough wisdom to know that the eyes can deceive and the heart is as deep as the ocean….so deep that only God can see and reflect the light within.

This experience lead to many conversations about how my church, just across the street and another church, right next to the park, were the Light to the darkness in this neighborhood. Often times people think crime only happens at night or in a “bad” part of town, but it can happen to anyone, any time of day and anywhere. I began to dream of a day that these two churches of different denominations but serving the same God could lock arms in unity and be a bridge to the community that surrounded that area. That was many years ago, but the dream for a unified city that was transformed for the Glory of God has burned in my heart for a decade or more. I am happy to say I see so much happening in my city to bring unity and healing and it is lead by many churches, including these I have mentioned.

In the end, when our time is no more we will not celebrate the things we use to decorate our homes or our bodies. We won’t want to make one last trip to the beach house or see our Rolex one more time. We won’t care about the stains on the carpet or the sheen of wax on the car. In our last moments when time is no more, we will long for our loved ones. When we are gone we leave behind  all of our “stuff” which is quickly divided or discarded. Our lasting impact on our family, our city, our culture is what we did with our time while here. Think about those young men at the park. Who invested time into their hearts? Who spoke encouragement and life into their lungs? Did anyone ever tell them they were dearly loved?

Time….it is the greatest of gifts. Use it wisely. Use it to make a difference, not just in the lives of people you love and your own family, but pour yourself out like a drink offering to quench the thirst of those who may be a little tougher to love. This is a challenge, I know that it is true. It challenges me and it challenges you. But we can do it, every last one. It may be a little or it may be much. It won’t be a love that translate the same to everyone, but God will direct you and open doors for you to pour into the life of another. God can do it through you if you only just try, only begin, to reach out a hand of friendship.  People sometimes need help to overcome.

Be a blessing, as I know you are. Live an extraordinary life, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of others…for the better.

Find your Strong and Love them STRONGER 🙂

~Nicole

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