I don’t normally spend money on myself. But when my blogger-friend went on a trip to Africa with #blogABLE, and I learned of their fashionABLE scarves, I had to have one because, goodness, it was helping someone, and it was gorgeous.
I didn’t mind spending close to $70 because most of the money was going towards the workers and by wearing it, I help spread the word about fashionABLE.
I was excited to get that scarf.
It was black and white checkered and wide and long and hand-sewn.
And one day it arrived in my mailbox. I picked it up on my way to the city, because I live in a tiny Dutch hamlet two hours north of Edmonton–the capital of Alberta, Canada–and I was driving to pick up our foster boys.
Last year I wrote about these boys in my Broken Hallelujah post; how we took them in for 11 months, in addition to our own two sons, making four kids ages four and under, because we wanted to help out their mother who’d called me up one day and said she could no longer do it.
She could no longer be a mom.
I met this girl more than a decade ago, through Young Life.
And I’ve seen her through it all: jail, countless boyfriends, living on the street, doing Chrystal Meth, meeting her biological father, a physically abusive relationship, a verbally abusive relationship, two abortions and an alcoholic mother.
Eleven months later, her boys are back with her, and she’s holding down a job and we take them every three weekends now, just to provide respite. So I was on my way to pick them up, and glancing over at my new scarf which sat on the passenger seat beside me.
I had also brought a bag of cookies to give to my friend, because it was her birthday soon and she doesn’t have many people who tell her they love her. And everyone needs love on their birthday.
But I was wishing I had more to give her.
And then, a voice in the back of my head said, “You could give her your scarf.”
I shook my head. I never buy anything for myself. This was a treat. It was $70. I was going to wear it and advertise for fashionABLE and that was a good thing. No.
And then I started to cry.
Because I know the Lord’s voice by now. It’s a whisper that won’t go away, it’s a gentle nudge that stirs my soul, and it always says hard and holy things I wouldn’t normally think of.
I cried and I sobbed because I was tired of giving. “I baked cookies for her!” I told him. “Isn’t that enough? We’re taking her boys; isn’t that enough? Why do I need to do more? Why can’t I have something?”
And then God showed me. In a blink, he showed me my friend’s life: all of the raw and the empty, the dark and the pain; and then he showed me my life: all of the arms to hold me, the warmth and the laughter and the light.
And I could physically feel my heart change.
A softening, a literal movement within my chest, an opening, like a flutter of wings.
And suddenly it wasn’t hard at all to give her that scarf. It was something very small, in light of the bigness of the love she deserved.
When I met up with my friend in the city, I took out that scarf and told her that I’d felt God telling me to give it to her.
I told her that I’d bought it for myself, but that he wanted her to have it. (She’s used to me being slightly Jesus-crazy by now) And then I said every time she put that scarf on, wrapped it around her, to know she was being wrapped in God’s love.
She looked stunned, and she stammered and said, “It’s so beautiful. It’s perfect. Thank you.”
I hugged her.
Then I took the hands of her boys, and walked to the car.
[Photo: Ivan McClellan, Creative Commons]