I’ve bought and sold a number of items through the free classifieds on Craigslist.org over the years. I’ve met a myriad of people from all walks of life through it, and today I had the privilege of getting to know one of them.
Miriam responded to my ad for some of my baby girl’s dresses for sale. I offered four of them as a lot and she wondered if I could sell one separately, the teal one with the smocked collar, and if I could meet her for the exchange. The divided price of the lot would make it just $7.50 – hardly worth a special trip for her or for me, but I felt like I need the money, so I figured, why not?
We met at Chick-fil-A just down the road from where she dropped her two boys off for school this morning. She walked in with a full-term belly, dressed warmly for our first cold Florida day in a black turtleneck, dark jeans and tan suede boots. We met and she sat down to talk a few minutes.
The dress I sold her is for the child she’s expecting. Her due date’s tomorrow. She’s a doula by trade but had to quit working a while back because of some health issues that developed before the pregnancy. Miriam has a cyst on her brain, which has caused excruciating and debilitating headaches. She also has a thyroid problem. She suffered through immense pain and dozens of medications until her life was coming to a complete halt. Her quality of life had diminished, and she was barely eating and taking care of herself. She was unable to enjoy and nurture her two young boys the way she wanted. She got fed up.
She says with the help of God she slowly got off the meds, changed her diet and exercise regime. Little by little, the pain has gone away. She is still looking into medical options for the cyst in the event it does become an issue, but for the most part, she’s preparing to be a mom again, this time to a little girl, who I can only imagine will be as beautiful as her mother.
Before her health issues began to take over her life, Miriam worked for a teen “life” center that steers at-risk teens away from having abortions. She talked about how they pray with the kids, encourage them to give the babies up for adoption and accompany them at the birth (most have no family support). I couldn’t help but parallel this Miriam to the Bible’s Miriam, Moses’ sister, who hid him in the bulrushes to save him from Pharaoh’s decree that newborn Hebrew boys be killed. Her work was not only life-giving and affirming, it helped change the course of history. What a beautiful mission.
Miriam reflected on what she and her husband have been through and said that bad things happen, but they’ve learned to adjust their perspective about them. She believes that they only serve to help you appreciate and value what’s most important in life.
I briefly shared with Miriam about my journey the past year – of having a baby, losing a grandparent then a parent – and how it has caused me to pause for reflection with questions like, What’s important in this life? Am I really pursuing the things that matter? Does the way I respond to hardship reflect the faith I say I have?
What I didn’t tell her was meeting her has also impacted me greatly today. It has reminded me that being a mother doesn’t mean I have to neglect my own health and wellbeing –to the contrary, much depends on me being healthy.
Miriam’s story and her attitude about life is peppered with grace, thankfulness and hope – things I find myself short of often. Miriam has a beautiful spirit about her – an inner beauty that spills out. That’s got to be God’s grace in her life. I wonder if others could say the same of me.
She asked me to keep in touch and to let her know when I’m ready to sell more of Madilyn’s things. I’ll do that, and more. I’m going to be praying for Miriam – praying for her complete healing so that she can continue her work in whatever capacity she chooses and that her two boys and her girl can watch and learn about their loving Creator from one who has submitted her life wholly to Him. I’ll be praying for myself, too, that I will always be open and receptive to the unusual ways that God speaks into my life – including through total strangers connecting through the Internet.