It’s a pleasure to share this post, filled with poignant stories that hit me where I live! My friend and fellow author Cynthia Herron writes “Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction” that has garnered multiple American Christian Fiction Writers’ awards. I’m excited to read her debut novel, Her Hope Discovered, when it releases from Mountain Brook Ink in January! Congratulations, Cynthia, and thank you for these memorable anecdotes and the important lesson they reinforce.
A Guest Post by Cynthia Herron
I feel things deeply. Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer.
I adore gallantry and old-fashioned romance. I love God, country, and tradition.
I cheer for the underdog. Suffering in any form disturbs me. I want to help because I’m a doer.
In junior high school, I once had a teacher refer to me as “an old soul” after I gave my opinion on slavery in America.
“It was tolerated because of apathy, not ignorance. People were too self-absorbed to do the humane thing. They didn’t want to analyze why slavery was wrong. That would have shattered their glass houses.”
My teacher nodded, surprised. I didn’t think my comment was all that profound. It never crossed my mind that others might not think the same way.
Recently, something made me recall an incident when I felt like the underdog. Certainly minute in comparison to the more significant issues in the world, but it did leave an impression.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 KJV)
Many years ago, I visited a popular, upscale department store in search of the perfect birthday gift for my mother. As I strolled past the shiny glass display cases in the fine jewelry area, a beautiful, gold necklace caught my eye. The chain was fine and delicate, as was the small cross that dangled free.
That’s it! Mama will love it! I stood there considering my possible purchase.
A tall, attractive sales clerk wandered up beside me, her smile friendly, but her eyes aloof. “May I help you?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I returned her smile. “I’d like to see that necklace, please.”
The sales clerk continued to stare, but she remained silent.
Maybe she didn’t hear me. I directed her attention to the correct display case.
“It’s that one. The gold one with the crucifix.”
“Oh.” The woman’s perfectly plucked eyebrows shot up. “My dear, what you want would be over there.”
She draped an arm over my shoulder and pointed across the aisle—to the costume jewelry rack.
Now, it’s not often I’m rendered speechless, but that day just for a moment, words failed me.
What in the world?
I wore jeans, a blouse, and a blazer and I had money to spend, but the sales clerk had drawn a very obvious conclusion. She didn’t think I could afford the purchase!
My throat tightened. I counted to ten. A scripture ran through my mind.
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6 KJV)
In all fairness, my clothing was a little rumpled. My hair, a little unkempt. I’m sure dark circles ringed my eyes and I’m certain my coloring was off.
I could have told the well-meaning sales clerk that my son was lying in the hospital where he’d been a critical care patient for the past week. (You can read more about our journey, and how we found Hope in the Hard Stuff, here and here.) I could have shared that was the first day I’d felt comfortable enough to leave his side for more than just a few moments.
I could have also related that she’d just lost a sale, her commission from that sale, and that her behavior disappointed me. But I didn’t.
Instead, I stepped back and searched for the right words. “No, thank you. What I wanted was right here—in this display case.”
I wasn’t ugly or rude about it. I later purchased another necklace at a competitor’s store, but I remembered a lesson from that day. Never ever judge a book by its cover. As cliché as it sounds, we rarely know the full story until we delve a little further.
That long-ago memory surfaced again one day as I watched a proud mother of two ask the supermarket checker a question about her food stamp coupons.
“I’m gonna have to get the manager to ring this purchase up.” The checker blew out a sigh. “Sorry, but I don’t think you can use these…uh…food stamp thingies for some of this stuff.”
“I know.” The mother’s whisper was barely audible. “That’s why I brought cash, too.”
Oh, my heart.
I wanted to just love that mama right up! The tiny family spoke to the nurturer in me.
The checker fingered some of the items on the counter. “Okay. But we still have to wait on him to ring you up. Just the way the cookie crumbles.”
The way the cookie crumbles. Really?
The woman fiddled with her car keys and patted her toddler’s curls. “I understand.”
But I didn’t. And I wanted to say something. I wanted to lighten the moment—let the mother know someone stood in her corner.
“A girl and a boy—a perfect combination. Your children are beautiful.” I smiled at the trio. “Such pretty eyes.”
“Thanks. They look just like their dad. He died last year—he had cancer.”
The checker’s head snapped up. “I…uh…oh. I’m sorry.”
I really think she was.
Another instance that cemented my thinking—the notion that regardless if we think we know the whole story, we should never presume.
The outer snapshot doesn’t always give a complete visual.
Just some food for thought.
Now, go love an underdog—and cheer that person on with your entire heart!
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minster grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29 KJV)
For more encouragement, check out these thoughts: 7 Reasons to Love What You Do
Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her Hope Discovered, her début novel and the first in a three-book series, releases January 2019 with Mountain Brook Ink.
Besides writing, Cindy enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. She also adores a great cup of coffee and she never met a sticky note she didn’t like. Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online home. She also hangs out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. For love, fun, and encouragement ~