God has worked with and on me for all my days here. He has helped me in so many ways to become the person I was meant to be and the Child of God I was called to be. He has touched me through experiences, memories, books, stories, animals, angels, and most of all other people. He has moved me and molded me with moments of love and examples of kindness. He has guided me through times of joy and times of sorrow. He has walked with me every step on my journey through life.
One time on the day before Christmas many years ago when I was a minimum wage mill worker, I found myself with very little money and very little time to buy my small children a few simple toys. I knew that they would have to be cheap ones and I hoped my children would like them. I hated not having enough to give them more. I hated being poor. And I hated feeling bad at Christmas rather than happy.
I pulled into a store parking lot and counted my money again. It wasn’t much but maybe I could get something small with it. As I was getting out of the car I noticed the Salvation Army bell ringer at the entrance. I felt bad again because I didn’t feel I could spare anything to give him. I started walking towards the entrance when two cars pulled into empty parking spots in front of me. The first was a shiny, new Cadillac and I felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw it.
“How nice”, I thought, “would it be to have enough money to buy a car like that.”
The second car, though, was an ancient sedan more beat up and rusty than the one I was driving. A man hopped out of the Cadillac and hurried into the store right past the bell ringer without a second glance. Out of the old sedan came a young mother with three small children in tow. Her clothes looked as worn out as her car, yet she stopped in front of the bell ringer, smiled, opened her purse, and dropped a bill in his red kettle.
I stood there for a minute in astonishment while God spent another moment working on my heart, soul, and mind. “Maybe,” I thought to myself, “It’s better to be rich on the inside instead of the outside.” In that second a warmth touched me, my jealousy and hatred left me, and all the love and joy that is Christmas filled me. I fished a bill out of my own wallet, dropped it in the Salvation Army kettle, and wished the bell ringer a “Merry Christmas!” I found a few fun things to give my kids and drove home with my heart singing. I knew it was going to be a wonderful Christmas and I felt like I had traveled another step closer to Heaven, God, and the person I was meant to be.
“And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.'” (Luke 21:3-4)
Joseph J. Mazzella