October 10, 2009
"You'll be fine"
It was a scorching hot day in the middle of August when I pulled off the highway at the 7-Eleven gas station I regularly used. I was anxious to fill up the tank and return home to my air-conditioned house. I'd been running errands all morning and my energy was zapped from the heat.
At the first available pump I came to, I parked, and shut off the engine. I retrieved a credit card from inside my purse, taking the keys out of the ignition by habit, even though my nine-year-old son was in the car. He had come along to get a new pair of shoes for school.
While the gas was flowing smoothly into the tank I washed the light film of dust off the back window of my car. I walked to the front to clean that window as well.
"Mom, I'm sooooo hot!!" my son exclaimed, confirming his statement by wiping his damp brow with his hand then his hand on his gray plaid shorts.
"I know bud, me too. We're almost done." I could feel a new rivulet of perspiration begin to trickle down my back.
Two teenage boys came out of the mini-mart, each holding an extra large slurpee. One was colored blue, the other lime green. They laughed as they enjoyed a refreshing swallow of the frosty drinks on the way to their bicycles.
Click. The numbers on the gas pump stopped moving, announcing the total. I returned the pump handle to its proper place and took my receipt as soon as it popped out. When I got back in the car I knew my son had been watching the two boys. He loved slurpees. I put the keys in the ignition and started the car.
"Sam, would you like to get a slurpee before we head home?"
"Oh yeah!" he exclaimed. "Thanks, Mom."
I moved the car and re-parked in front of the store. I pulled out two dollars from my wallet and handed them to Sam. "I'll wait here. Go ahead and get one." I nodded to him.
His eyes widened. "Aren't you coming with me?" he asked, concerned.
"No, you can go by yourself, you’ll be fine. I can see you the whole time from here."
"But...I don't even know how the machine works, I can't do it myself. Can't you come?"
His request was a small thing, but for some reason I felt Sam had to do it alone.
He hesitated,"...I don't really need one...I guess."
"Sam...I promise you can do it.” The wariness in his face hadn’t left.
“I can't always be there,” I told him. “You need to learn to do more things on your own." I gave him an encouraging smile.
He didn’t return it with one of his own. Slowly he opened the door, got out and looked at me. I gave him a thumbs up. When he walked in the store I felt a guilty twinge, wondering if I had made too big of a deal about this. It would have been so easy to go inside with him, help him get the treat and pay for it at the register. It certainly would have been quicker. I reminded myself of the feeling I had—this was a teaching moment—Sam needed to gain confidence.
When he came out of the store about five minutes later he was grinning ear to ear, holding his slurpee up like a trophy."Hi mom," he said when he climbed in the car. He held out his hand. "Here's the change."
"Thanks. You did it, great job! See it wasn't too hard for you, right?"
He nodded sheepishly, "It was easy! Next time I won't be afraid at all to do it alone." He offered me a drink.
I took a small one feeling it slide down my throat like ice. "Brrr, that's cold." I shivered.
Sam laughed. "Do you want me to go get one for you?" he offered.
"No thanks, you just enjoy yours..."
We all face things in our lives that can feel overwhelming and difficult, or even scary to handle on our own. Those are the times we need to remember-we aren’t alone. God is just a prayer away and he’s promised to never give us more than we can handle.
1 Corinthians 10:13