Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: Positive Balance
By Erika DeRosier
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Staring at the blank walls and empty cupboards, I sank unto the dirty kitchen floor. The letter which had caused my surprise a few moments earlier fluttered gently as it glided down to join me. It was my bank statement; I was not overdrawn. I pondered for a moment on how such a thing could have happened. Worrying the entire night before, I hadn’t been able to sleep and was currently suffering from a major migraine. Could that have brought on the delusion of a positive balance? Then I realized what must have happened, one of my payments hadn’t come out yet, but what? Rent? No that was withdrawn. Water, heat, electricity? All there.
I wasn’t always destitute. I actually used to be a very prominent lawyer in Chicago, Illinois. The problems didn’t start until a year ago when my mother got Alzheimer’s. I moved back to my hometown of Paducah, Kentucky to take care of her. I would have just put her in an assisted care facility, but she always said she wanted to die at home, not in a place full of strangers. Ironically, that is what her home had become anyway. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to defy her wishes. Now, a month after her death, I didn’t have the money to move back to Chicago and couldn’t find a job in Paducah. It seemed a hopeless situation.
I suddenly remembered the bill that was supposed to have come out. When I was in Illinois, I had a gym membership. I never cancelled it as I couldn’t afford to pay the high penalty fee all at once and figured it would be easier to just continue the small monthly payments. As it turned out, I couldn’t afford those either. I was grateful that the money hadn’t come out, but as I thought about it, I knew there must have been some clerical error and it wouldn’t be right to not call and let them know. I had signed a contract.
Picking up the phone, I kicked myself for having such a strong conscience. “Katie’s 24-hour fitness center. This is Katie, how may I help you?”
Good! The owner had answered. Maybe I could explain my situation to her and she would let me off of the plan without having to pay the cancellation fee. “Hi, my name is Cheryl Cummings and I was just looking at my bank statement.”
“I’m so sorry about your mother.” She consoled.
How did she know? The only person I told was my friend Hannah. She was my ultimate confidante: the only person who knew about my finances and heartaches. “Thank you, how did you know about that?” My eyes welled up as I deduced that Hannah had paid my monthly dues or gotten Katie to cancel my membership.
“A lady found your ID card floating around and turned it into the lost and found. As she did, she mentioned that you were her lawyer and thought you had left town. I wanted to make sure, so I called your home and it was disconnected. I just figured you’d be back shortly so I continued billing. Then the following Sunday I was at church and read a prayer request put in by a girl named Hannah. It was a prayer for your comfort as your mom had passed.”
“Oh, I see. Well, the reason I’m calling is that you didn’t charge me last month.”
“I figured I’d help you out.”
“I didn’t ask for help.”
“No, but I prayed about it and felt it was the right thing to do.”
“Well, I won’t argue with that, I guess. Thanks.”
Hanging up, I realized that there are certain types of people that will go out of their way to help someone they don’t even know. They are the kind of people that will lend their services before you even make a request, the kind of people that take their orders from above. It makes sense. The heavenly Father is always there to help, even when we don’t see Him and if we obey, we may help others in greater ways than we ever imagined.
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