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I Was in the Underwear Section When it Hit Me

A day when I faced my fear and delivered a message.

I was in the underwear section of TJ Maxx when it hit me. The strong urge to speak to a middle-school boy came to me out of nowhere.

This crisp Tuesday evening I was just stopping by the store to grab some workout socks and pajamas for my daughter.

I was hit with a strong message that needed to be delivered. The object was a middle-school boy, shopping with what looked like his younger sister and a woman who, I thought, could be an aunt or grandmother.

I was finished with my quick shopping trip. My teenage daughter would like the cute heathered gray nightshirt that said: Coffee, SLAY, Repeat. But I just hung around the woman with the young boy and the (probably 9-year-old) girl. They seemed happy, chatting and just normally browsing around the store a bit. I felt like a spy, watching them and trying not to be discovered.

I was trying to convince myself to simply go up to the woman and say: I have a strong feeling and I need to tell you what it is.

Yeah, right. Am I CRAZY? She will grab the children and run, probably letting the store manager know that some kook is bothering her. I was terrified. What would other people do? Except on television, do people really do this? It was torture. The feeling was so strong, every time I said to myself “NO WAY I’M DOING THIS, I almost felt sick. I wanted to check out, say a little prayer about the kid, and head home.

What would YOU do?

I had to stop feeling like a stalker, so I put my items down on a partially empty shelf and went to my car. I called my husband Bryan, who had always patiently listened when I came home frustrated, with stories about messages that I didn’t deliver.

They were never earth-shattering messages from the great beyond. Rather, just little–but powerful–thoughts like the time I had an overwhelming feeling to go tell a tired-looking middle-aged woman in the grocery store that I knew that she had a very good heart and was doing the right thing. I have no idea what it meant, but I will always regret not delivering it.

Bryan’s words convinced me that I had let these opportunities go in the past and mostly had regretted not saying something. He said that the worst that could happen was that the woman would think I was weird and would move on.

“So what?” he said. “If that happens, you will never see them again. Just go. Oh, and call me after, weirdo.”

Armed with his words I walked back into the store.

But–oh no! There they were, leaving the store. They had a few small bags and were headed toward their car. Now, I had to be that person who stops people in the parking lot! No, no, no!

But guess what? I did. I stopped her, and of course she was scared and thought I was going to be that person who says she is “out of gas” or some such story, and needs money. I said I had a message and it was about the boy she had with her, and I asked if it would be ok to say what it was. She breathed a sigh of relief and said “Sure, ok.”

My message was brief. I turned to him and said: I don’t know what is going on in your life. I know that you are REALLY struggling right now, and I know something is very hard for you. But hang in there. You are going to be ok. In fact, you're going to be better than just OK. You are going to be amazing.

A typical young teen, he didn’t seem to have a big emotional reaction. Actually, he gave me a little smile as if to say: Yep, I thought so.

However, his grandmother started crying and telling me a long story. Apparently, the kid’s extremely high IQ made it tough to fit in and he was feeling like a complete freak (which is already common enough in middle school). She said she couldn’t wait to get home to tell his mom, who was struggling with the situation.

She hugged me and thanked me. Then I (the weirdo) turned back to my car. I was too excited to go retrieve the cute nightgown. In retrospect–still doubting whether or not this was real–I thought that even if it WAS something my mind made up, it couldn't hurt anyone to have a little encouragement.

Coffee. SLAY. Repeat.

I would love to know...Do you ever get these feelings? Do you have friends that do?


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This is an honest blog about growing up in a sports family, being an imperfect parent, taking risks, and the complicated, beautiful mess that is life.

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