Providence or chance?

I tried to cancel my standing psychologist appointment set for today.

Yesterday, I left a message along with an email to my psychologist letting her know that; “I’m taking a break this week. “I’m staying home as much as I possibly can. I’m avoiding any stress including the emotional stress that comes with sitting and discussing my deepest darkest troubles of yesterday and today.”

She immediately sent a bill for $50 via paypal for a cancelled appointment.

I emailed her right back and told her “nevermind, I’m coming in.”

I went through all the emotions. Pissy because she sent me a bill. “I’m sick for goodness sake!” Understanding: “Well, this leaves a pretty expensive space in her calendar just dashed.” Anxiety: “She’s going to be pissy because I cancelled then reneged” Worry: “She didn’t reply, maybe she won’t be there or maybe she filled my spot.” Essentially, just cancelling the appointment induced a source of worry that didn’t need to happen.

This morning on my way to the not-cancelled session, I was craving hot tea. Hot tea is not something that I crave, but there’s a Starbucks along the way to her office and I had time to stop in.  I was feeling out of sorts all morning. Still processing my worried feelings, going on little sleep and a total body pain that I can only explain as a horrible hangover after dancing all night long.  Absolute exhaustion.

I threw the old red Toyota truck in a parking space as close to the front door as I could. I climbed out of the truck and immediately became hyper-vigilant. Observing people sitting in their cars, walking to and from businesses in the small shopping center around me. I’m hyper aware as I walk through the coffee shop; watching each person lounging from the corner of my eye. I caught fragments of conversations as I avoided eye contact and skittered straight to the cashier.”Hurry, hurry” my brain says. “Watch, watch” my mind screams.

The cashier’s name was Ahmed. As soon as I approached him, a female barista sweeps in and whispers in his ear. They both giggle and he tells her to get back to her station. He quickly turns back to me ready to greet me for the first time. I turn to the barista and easily say, “You’re bad, I can tell.”  She easily quips back “It’s the red lipstick.” Sweetly, I say “and, you wear it well.”.

I feel self conscious as I am about to ask Ahmed a stupid question. Since I’ve worked in retail, I know how questions can become repetitive and irritating.  I’ve known many employees to become irritated at when-my-wife-sends-me-on-a-starbucks-runthe general populace because they don’t know what size “grande” is. So, I prepare myself for some ‘tude as I pose my question.  Because it’s important dammit. I don’t even order tea!

“Is a chia tea latte just chai tea and milk?”

Cringing, I await for the sigh, the eye roll or something.

There is none, easily Ahmed says to me “yeah, you can get it with syrup or you could actually get one with the tea bag.” I’m relieved that I was right about the chai tea. I’m kind of feeling confused and anxious and I fumble for a second because my choice of teas isn’t registering. Essentially, when my brain disconnects because of anxiety, I toss a familiar question out. “which would you prefer?”

I watch him as he eases his voice and tells me his choice. I say “that sounds great!” I begin to fumble with my iphone so I can open the Starbucks app so I can pay with it. My fingers aren’t working well. I look around as the line grows longer and I believe that Ahmed is stalling for me. He’s telling me all of the choices of milks that I could make it with. My app finally opens and I drop my phone on the counter. My fingers gave out and my mind darts to coconut milk. “Stay focused” I say to myself. Ahmed quickly, without a moments hesitation grabs my phone and places it next to the scanner for me. I immediately notice that there’s not enough money loaded on the app. So I grasp for my credit card. I feel the people behind me groan. Ahmed smoothly takes the card and sticks it into the chip reader. I apologize and make excuses that I’m not awake yet.

And I say, “You’re so easy going and kind, you could work in a psych ward.” and I immediately realize what I said. Ahmed pauses and looks at me. “What did you say?”.  “I mean, not that I would know anything about a psych ward…” I say quickly, eyes wide looking around the room. I cover my mouth, with my hand. Embarrassed and suddenly feeling very small. “Why did I say that?” I say to myself.

Ahmed looks at me and said “I’m going to work in a psych ward next week. You just spoke to my heart.” as he places his hand over his heart. I relax and reply “The people in the psych ward were the kindest people I’ve ever met. Where will you work?” He told me, but I quickly forgot. It didn’t sound familiar. I told him where I was and he beamed. I thanked him and walked to the pick up counter.

This is not the first time I’ve had a conversation like this. The subject is always different, but the reaction is the same. I’ll say something so random and I touch the heart of the receiver. This happened in the pharmacy in which I worked at many times. It happened so much that I cannot go near the pharmacy without someone stopping me and loving on me. Each time, I introduce the person to my husband. My husband is surprised that I have met so many people. He talks about how I’ve touched so many lives. I say, I just talk to people when the words come. 

Is this providence or chance? My feelings about God these days are difficult. He is who He is. He has made the choice to let me live with the pain and suffering. He will use me as He wants and no amount of praying will fix that. Has God used me once again, given me the experience of the psych ward to touch this young man? Encourage this young man that he’s doing the right thing? 

I felt his response. I felt his heart swell, and mine did as well. I almost cried when his emotions welled.

Providence or Chance, my friends?

Had I not reneged on my appointment and had I not craved tea (If you knew my absolute love for coffee you would know the chances are crazy), I would have not stopped in to Starbucks today.

 Providence? Chance?


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