To Serve or Not Serve That Humble Pie
I recently had an experience where I withheld my serving of “humble pie” about being a widow. It felt good to be in a place where I withheld my chance to serve it up, but reminds me of the time when I served it up to stop someone’s ridiculous personal observations.
Almost five years ago, I was at a grocery store with my two-year old daughter. She attracted all the grandmas at the grocery store due to her curly hair. A script/scene would develop for most visits: older woman approaches – asks if I know who Shirley Temple was. My response – why yes, she is right here. And then a short conversation about how they loved Shirley Temple and my daughter looks just like her. Scene End. But this time, I kept running into the same lady. By the end of the visit, we are both at the meat counter waiting to place an order. The stranger feels friendly with me and decides to ask personal questions and give me advice on life. Which leads to – how many children do you have? Why only one? She says “That isn’t good. Only children are not good for the parent or the child. You should have at least two.” I politely use my typical response, “But this one is so good – I’m sticking with her.” Most people back off – but not this lady. “Your daughter is so cute – she needs a sibling, someone to play with, someone to….” I can’t take it anymore and blurt out “I’m a widow. My husband is dead. It isn’t happening.”
She doesn’t compute right away what I’ve said and continues with her reasoning of the world’s problems of only children. But she realizes what I’ve blurted and changes course, “Widow – but that isn’t possible. Your daughter is a baby.” Really – this is her response. I told her anyone can be a widow. She is now sharing her internal monologue that I didn’t need. “But you are too young, your baby is too young, how could this happen….” She starts stepping backwards away from me and I’m boiling with emotions – anger, sadness, fear, overwhelming despair. There is no resolution to this horrible conversation. It is just like horrible situation that has no immediate remedy. It hurt me to the core to have this woman hold up a mirror to my situation and point out the obvious hurt and pain of what isn’t happening.
My recent humble pie situation happened at my daughter’s dance performance. She does Irish dancing and we were at a bar performing for St. Patrick’s day celebrations. A mom that I’m close with couldn’t attend and her husband who I have never met was with their two daughters. I could tell he didn’t really know what was going on so I helped get his girls ready (Wigs/Dress/Shoes) and where to take them, etc. We returned to the bar, he joined me with my Aunt and cousin (who are both my husband’s relatives). We chit-chat while waiting for the show. He says, “How many children do you have?” I share – Grace is my only child. And boom – he says, “Boy aren’t you lucky! You did it right – you only have one.” Little does he know my situation. I just smiled and said, “Well I wouldn’t say lucky, but sure glad to have Grace.” Dave’s cousin and aunt are horrified. Their jaws dropped and my cousin is grinding her teeth saying, “Lucky – that is horrible.” I’m able to shrug my shoulders and withhold the humble pie serving. I know he is a tired dad – three kids all in elementary school. It is a Saturday and his wife is working a band contest all day, his son it at boy scout retreat and his two girls are performing. Their life is overflowing and he needs/wants a break. My humble pie could have given him perspective but I didn’t feel the need to be the one to give it to him.
My horrible situation of four years ago – isn’t as horrible today. Sadness still there – yes. Grief still there – yes. Missing Dave still there – yes. But God continues to fill my life with goodness, joy, and love. Humble pie can be good to serve and sometimes it is necessary to protect our wounds. My ability to withhold it at times reassures me that I am healing.