We often think of being grateful when things are going well: we get the job, the raise and/or the relationship we want. Being grateful at other times is more challenging. I’ve learned to look under the surface for hidden or unexpected blessings that initially may not even look or feel like blessings. Below is a personal experience that I want to share with you.  How does this story help you look under the surface in your own life for the hidden or unexpected blessings?

I was waiting to mail a package when I first noticed the elderly woman. I wanted to stay with my own thoughts, but I heard the words coming from my mouth: “You don’t have to get back in this long line. You can just go to the teller who was helping you.” 

I did my good deed. It only took a minute–or so I thought, because there she was again. “What should I do now?” she asked. “Just fill out the form. Do you need help?”  No, she would be fine. 

All too soon, she was back again! I didn’t want to hear this stranger’s prater. I didn’t want to help anymore. I wanted to be left alone, to be invisible. I wanted a pathway cleared for me so I could do my business and leave. Yet, there was this woman again, wanting something from me and I couldn’t escape. I pulled myself away from my thoughts and my impatience with the government service and turned to meet her need one more time.

What I met was a woman whose heart was so burdened that she couldn’t think clearly. A woman whose life had become caring for her dying husband–except for the occasional errand. He consumed her thoughts. How and when would the end come? Could she manage until then?  How much more pain was he going to suffer? What would she do when her beloved was gone?   

She just wanted to say “Thank you” she said. The openness and rawness of her emotions went deep into me. We were strangers who were close enough to shed tears together; strangers who had a permanent impact on each other; strangers who never exchanged first names.

Because of her, I have a soft place in my heart that had been hard. I appreciate the postal workers as I observe the individual care they give each customer. I enjoy talking to the people in line with me; and I always scan the crowd to see if the stranger, who I know so well, is there.