Have you ever had an instance where you asked yourself, “Why me?” Why have I been “chosen” to bear the heavy load? Why am I the leader? Why was I born in this family, at this time, in this place? When you’re asking yourself these questions, it’s normally proceeding some horrible turn of events. You know what? You’re not the only one who asks the big “W.” Today’s Lighten Up Thursday may answer the question, “Why me?”
The Story: Priscilla Jackson
Down the street from me is a lady named Miss Jackson. (#IamForReal) She’s lived there for as long as I could remember. She had pink walls that aligned her stairwell, a loud laugh, and nine cats. I hadn’t visited her in years, but last night, I was locked out of my house for hours. “Why me?” I asked to no one in particular as I rang her doorbell and bounced on my heels to fight the cold chill of the Chicago night air. Why was it always me?
For the first fifteen minutes after she answered the door, Miss Jackson limped around her intricately decorated home and yelled at me about being a user. It had been years since I visited and despite the fact that I spoke to her everyday as I walked past her house, I never had come to check out the earrings that she had mentioned to me several times upon my trips to work. I apologized many, many times but I still kept wondering Why me? Why did I have to be locked out? Why was she the only safe neighbor to come to? Why did my phone have to die upon exiting my school after orientation?
She suddenly calmed down and smiled. She had been idly staring at her rocking chair which was beside my place on the couch. She began telling me the story of how she got it, and it was quite a story. To be an older lady (mid-70s to early 90s) she had lugged the sizable chair up an entire flight of stairs. This story transformed into a tour of her entire house including the infamous closet bed that I will be telling people about for centuries to come. The houses on this block were built with long, walk in closet and while mine is filled with my grandparent’s junk, Miss Jackson had put a twin sized box spring in hers, surrounded it with Christmas lights and turned it into her very own “closet bed”.
As she ushered me into her bedroom, she showered me in gifts including several pairs of earrings and a hat. She doted on toy hamsters, her curtains, the way everything in the room matched and then she spoke words that I will hear eternally. “Sometimes I wish I had a granddaughter to show this off to. All I have is four boys and they’re all grown. But.. You, you will never be outside again.” I froze. This was that thing that your parents told you about when they tell you about what strangers could do to you. Years and years this elderly lady had been friends with my grandma and she was about to kill me. I sputtered a bit and she continued, smiling. “I’ll get you a key to my house and if no one is home at your house and your grandparents won’t give you a key, you can come and stay here until they get home. You can stay in the closet bed but you can never be outside again.” She was inviting me to come back.
Why it Had Been Me.
As I was leaving, I noticed that Miss Jackson had changed emotionally. She was practically gliding among her rooms, stepping over cats, beaming as she led me to the door. She had enjoyed my company despite the way I’d rudely entered demanding to have a phone. As I was leaving, she mentioned she was out of tissue, nonchalantly as if an afterthought. Then she began to talk about loneliness and how she never felt lonely but sometimes it was quiet in her house. I realized that I had an opportunity there. I could bring a small bit more of joy to her life.
So I offered to buy her tissue and to come back. Truthfully, thought it was 100 degrees in her house and I was constantly having to look out for cats, Miss Jackson wasn’t that bad and the happiness my visit had brought to her made me feel good. This morning, as I was writing this blog it occurred to me that I’d almost forgot. I raced through the rain of the dreary Chicago street and brought her toilet paper. When she opened the door, I could tell she wasn’t expecting me. She smiled and gave me a long hug and although I didn’t stay long I could tell it made her morning.
It was me that had been locked out because I’m always racing through everything. I never slow down and really take the time to enjoy the intricate moments of life. It was her that was the only neighbor who answered the door because she was in need of a companion. It was my chance to cheer someone up because lately I’d been feeling slightly low and a little useless. We served as a reminder to each other that people still need companionship.
After all that time, I finally realized why it had been me.
The Lighten Up Lesson: Why You?
We were all chosen for greatness. Sometimes we are destined to be great, but often times we overlook it because we have to know “why!” The real why is why question it? Life has a strange, mysterious way of constantly moving and changing and we can’t always have the answer right then and there. I think we question it because we fear that if we don’t know the answer, we can’t control it. Yet, there are somethings in life we can’t control. They weren’t made for us to understand. Believe that your path was designed and created for you to travel and though we hate hearing it, I am a strong believer in the theory that everything always happens for a reason. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t know it but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t all for a greater, higher purpose.
When I was out there, shivering, wondering how much longer it’d be until I got in my house and had a nice warm meal, I was only asking why I was stuck out there. I didn’t think why was I placed in this particular moment. The real question should’ve been “What.”
“What can I do to seize this moment and turn this negative into a positive?”
I’ll end this Lighten Up Thursday with a quote. It’s one that is probably overplayed but also overlooked. When you read it, think about the last time you’ve wondered “Why me?” and ask yourself
“How can this very moment make me greater in the eyes of myself.”
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. -Timo Cruz, Coach Carter
Why you? Because you have a light inside of you that sometimes is brightened by the darkness surrounding you. Do not fear light or darkness, liberate yourself. Forget about the questions. Find your answer.
Lighten Up. Happy Thursday.