Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Exact Change

Hey there! I'm finally back from my cross country trip. What an adventure. We saw some pretty interesting things along the way. And, we are now more familiar with our own country. I am incredibly grateful for that.

But what I'm most grateful for is the strengthening of our family ties that resulted. My hope and prayer is that it will continue.

So, another European adventure. Let's see. Here's one I wrote a story about. Hope you enjoy it!

Exact Change

I stood in line at the grocery store that I had finally gotten accustomed to. We had been living in Switzerland for the past three years and had found it to be as much of a challenge as an adventure. The first two years alone had been a real struggle for our two daughters. Learning the language and trying to make friends in the small community we lived in had proven to be more difficult than we had ever imagined. Just shopping for groceries had been one of the biggest adjustments in my life. That and coping with the daily struggles of living in a foreign country had to taken its toll.

As I stood in line the only thought that kept going through my mind was this. "I can't do it anymore."

It was the same thought that had dominated my mind before my two daughters and I had joined my husband in London for a week. He had been assigned to a client there two months earlier, and it now looked as if he would be there a couple more months. That meant two more months of handling things on my own, and I was already worn out.

Managing the house, being the main interpreter in the family and coping with some of the stigma that came our way because we were foreigners had finally caught up with me. There was no escaping it now. My mind was overwhelmed and my heart was about to shrivel. I felt I had nothing left to offer, or the energy to even try.

Hopeless. That was the word that fit the best. I felt completely and utterly hopeless over the whole situation. I cried out to God for help with what little strength I had left. I couldn’t form a request at that point, and it wasn’t even a cry really. Just a simple statement.

"I can't do it anymore."

I put my groceries on the counter and waited for my total in a daze. All I wanted to do was get my groceries and get home as fast as I possibly could. The cashier finished ringing up my items and told me the amount was 45.56 CHF (Swiss Franks). I pulled out my bankcard to pay for it but was completely confused when it refused to work. The cashier said to try the card again. I did, but it still didn't work. Once more. Still no results.

Since we had just flown back from London the day before, I hadn’t had time to go to the bank. I had only come to the store for a few things to get us by until I had the strength to do serious shopping. I can only imagine the picture I made in that store that day as I opened my wallet in the hopes that I had enough cash to pay for my groceries. The thought of having to put something back was more than I could handle at that point.

As I counted out the bills I was partially relieved to see I had exactly 45.00 CHF. Now at least I had a chance. I dumped my wallet over into my hand to empty the change, but the cashier held out her hand to count it for me. I think she realized I was a woman under stress. This, I have found, is an identity that transcends all cultures and languages.

The next moment is still clear in my mind to this day. She looked up at me with eyes bigger than the largest coin she held and said it was the exact amount. She was in more shock than I. My wallet lay empty, not a single coin remained, and the groceries were paid for. Exactly.

The next day I went to the bank to order a new bankcard. The teller took my card and ran it in the pin machine. It worked perfectly. There was nothing wrong with it. As I left the bank I suddenly felt as if a light clicked on. It had been no coincidence that my groceries had totaled the exact amount I’d had in my wallet. That was when I knew I would be okay. God had shown me I didn’t have to do it alone anymore. He had used a simple activity such as grocery shopping to remind me of what I had somehow forgotten. He was the one in control and was with me every step of the way. I simply had to quit trusting in my own ability and trust him. Where I fell short, He was exactly what I needed. Right to the last penny.


Heather Diane Tipton said...


Heather Diane Tipton said...

girl you are slacking! look it's been more than a week since your last post! LOL Aren't you glad you have me to pester you??*gg*