BY LEA CHURCH BRENDLE
Let’s make a long story short, shall we?
Last summer as I was bidding a customer farewell, we strolled out the front door together and, through a random conversation about my planters out front, discovered a rock. It wasn’t an ordinary rock, it had a nicely painted word on it and it was placed there in my planter by somebody…somebody with a mission…but who? And why? And why my planter? So, I know your curiosity is there already… what’s the word you want to know…what’s the word? And who put it there? We will get to the who later.
It was an unexpected word for sure: unless. “Unless?” we both exclaimed. What kind of word is unless? Why couldn’t it be a word like happy, or faith, or hope? But it was unless.
Unless, unless, unless… unless what? I was determined to figure it out but had nothing to go on…so I went to my computer and followed a personal instinct to google the word unless in the Bible. Several extremely pertinent scriptures to my Christian faith appeared and I was momentarily satisfied yet intrigued with my finding. This had started a bit of churning in my heart and soul.
I shared this curious story with a few people and, like a lot of things in my life, it was passed down the line of importance by all the other life “fires” that spark in the day to day of a small business owner/mother/wife, etc. until one day another customer came in and the journey of unless reared its quirky head again. This particular customer whom I find to be quite striking and very classy was wearing a bracelet that seemed, for lack of a better description, almost too simple for her and not what I would have expected to see her wearing. She explained to me that each year she picks a word that is important to her and she gets a bracelet with the word on it. In my head I am thinking are you kidding me…I need one of those and you know with what on it. This “word thing” conversation was a gentle reminder of the rock and the infamous word that so clearly spelled out…UNLESS. I quickly looked up the bracelet she had gotten for herself and decided I should order it for the store. I jumped through hoops to get it quickly and was excited about the potential. It came, and it sat. I just could not bring myself to make even the first one…so it sat. Through another odd course of events, I had been asked about doing an article for December’s magazine but in the screaming obviousness of lack of time, declined. I knew this was the story I wanted to tell, but it had not run its full course yet….so it was very timely that I declined the opportunity…and it was hard to decline because who doesn’t want an extra perk with the public in December? But this story wasn’t ready to be told yet.
Fast forward through life again, because this is how it is for me…fast forward. Stop. Go. Fast forward again… and of course it’s November, so life is about to get even crazier… so no personal or quiet time for me. I say this not for pity, but to explain time’s way of stopping for no one. I’m working late one night and as I am sitting at my desk I glance down to the floor and see the bag holding the bracelet line I have been avoiding like the plague…and say to myself… “UNLESS I do it, I won’t know…” You see I am a perfectionist and on one too many occasions I have made perfect, the enemy of good. But that very moment uttering mentally the word “unless” I knew that was beyond a doubt, my word…and my moment to conquer my fear of messing up. So, I immediately reached down and the next thing I knew… I had a new, very personal bracelet on my wrist!
Oddly enough a couple of days before that I had taken a custom order for a product line that required me to scan in a fingerprint. I had taken the identikid card home to get my husband to scan it for me. As I was telling him that it was a memorial piece for a young man that had taken his own life due to bullying, it dawned on me that I never really looked at the card to know what his name was, so I walked over to the corner of my dresser where I had laid it and picked it up and read his name. My heart was pounding, and I couldn’t believe my eyes…my mind was racing… could it be? I couldn’t get the words out as to what I was doing, and my husband was becoming incensed as I frantically raced to my computer and Facebook to look and see if my mind was playing tricks on me. You see, when I found the rock in September what I didn’t mention was that on the back of the rock read the words Vincent’s Legacy…. And this young man’s name was Vincent Puckett. It seemed oh, so surreal that after all this time, and mystery…here I was, making a very special gift for his mom and sister. I really didn’t have words for all the emotions I was feeling.
Funny thing, my husband says he hopes I never have to testify in court because I am the worst with details…to me it’s more about the emotional timing of things than timeline details, so let me tell you how hard this is because thinking back on things all I can think of are the emotions I felt. So the day came and I was on the phone with his mom, Roxane…and I asked her if I could tell her a story and I shared with her in great emotional detail what had happened and how powerfully beautiful it was to me that I had found this rock connected to the non-profit organization she had started in his honor, and that whoever put it there…put it there for me and I was meant to find it. She shared it had been her, that she had painted the rock and placed it there earlier last summer while her mom and daughter were in my store inquiring about the personalization program we offered. Strangely enough, I was off that day. I told her that, as odd as it was, the word UNLESScouldn’t have been any more perfect and that it was definitely my word. This word has stayed with me since I laid eyes on it, as has the rock. According to the FB page, finders are supposed to take a picture of it when it’s found, share where it was found and by whom and then hide it for someone else to find…but I could not. I have held this rock with the infamous moving word UNLESSin a special place at my desk…and in my heart. I don’t think I have ever had a word speak and move me more. I am going through a personal journey because of this rock and one day I hope to share more. As I shared with her that UNLESSwas definitely my word and inquired as to why she picked it, she said it was her word, too, and that it came from a quote from The Lorax book by Dr. Seuss, and it goes “…UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This was definitely a very special conversation that we shared, and I am happy to be able to share her organization, Vincent’s Legacy, KindnessRocks, #VWPLegacy through my experience.
As I reflect on this word I would like to share it with each of you as it is extremely powerful…. what UNLESS will you change in your life to be a better you, and in that, make this a better world?
Unless you smile
Unless you look out for the less fortunate
Unless you stand up for yourself
Unless you are wise
Unless you accept Jesus as your Savior
Unless you try
Unless you are kind
Unless you are honest
Unless you work hard
Unless you are committed
Unless you eat healthy
Unless you love them unconditionally
Unless you trust
Unless you believe
Unless you forgive
What’s your word?