It’s interesting how memories come back to haunt us. At one moment, we are thinking about one thing and in the next split second, we are taken back to the not-so-wonderful past.
This happened to me yesterday as I was driving. I passed by a familiar restaurant and memories flooded my mind. What is particularly funny is that I had driven past this restaurant probably dozens of times this year alone, but it was yesterday’s drive that spurred the memories.
Five years ago.
It was five years ago today that my fourteen-year marriage ended, legally. After the judge declared the marriage “dissolved,” I remember my ex-husband saying, “Well, that was that.” I thought to myself, “That IS that; it’s over. Finally OVER.”
As we walked out of that emotionless, cold courtroom, it was apparent that now we both had to “move on.” There were to be so many changes ahead for me. And, even though I was the one who instigated the breakup of a very troubled marriage, at that moment, I knew another level of healing (and suffering) had just commenced for me.
I wish I could say I was brave through all of it, that I handled every crying session, every sad day, every angry moment with dignity and grace, but that is not true. I would love to say every moment of healing was inspired by love, peace, joy, and ultimate good (for myself and for everyone involved), but that would be a lie. I would love to say it was an easy road to travel, but it was not. My days and healing time were a mix of almost complete bliss and sometimes utter despair.
On one particularly sad day five years ago, I ventured into the same restaurant that I drove by yesterday to order some take-out food. As I was ready to pay for my meal, the clerk gazed at me, and with a Spanish accent, said, “It’s okay; you don’t pay – my gift to you.”
I remember the look of bewilderment on his face as he slowly and compassionately mouthed these words to me, and quite frankly, I was shocked not only by the generosity of this man but by the way he looked at me. I can only conclude that the look of astonishment on his face was because my appearance (and demeanor) must have looked like I had just been hit by a truck.
This kind gesture from this man was perhaps something he did regularly, but his actions touched me and snapped me into reality! That moment was my turning point. It was the moment when I said to myself, “It is time.” It was time to stop wallowing; it was time to start trusting, to release my pain, to forgive, to allow goodness to come to my life. It was time to allow my spirit that was squelched by all the years of an abusive marriage to now live. It was time to let go. It was time.
Lessons Learned at the Restaurant From a Stranger
From that moment forward, as each day passed, I became closer and closer to discovering who I really was and what truly made me come alive. I allowed healing to take place by allowing the tears to flow, by choosing to forgive, by letting go of the anger, and by embracing the changes (all good) that would come. I learned to love myself holistically – emotionally, physically, and mentally. I learned to be brave. I learned to let go of fear. I learned to step out in faith. I learned to make decisions that were in line with who I was and what I wanted in my life.
I would eventually forget the man at the restaurant – the catalyst that began my journey into complete healing. As days turned to months, and the months turned to years, I was to discover all the beauty and healing that life has to offer! I learned that all things can be changed and healed with hope and courage.
Perhaps yesterday’s drive and the restaurant was a sober reminder of what I experienced years ago for the sole purpose of reminding me of how incredible the journey of life truly is when we allow healing to take place. They were a reminder to never fear change but to embrace all its gifts.
Whenever I am tempted to lose hope, I look back to five years ago. Whenever I think about giving up on myself, I think about what happened five years ago. Whenever I am tempted to think that I can’t, I remember how far I have come. Whenever I falsely think, “Give it up – you can’t do it,” I think about that moment in the restaurant.
What is the turning point in your life? Everyone has one (or two). Have you allowed healing to take place in your life, or are you wrapped up in fear, anger, pain, and self-inflicted misery? Why not point yourself towards the ever-present love that, if you allow it, will change you from the inside out and propel you into the confident, healthy, and vibrant person you are meant to be?
The choice is yours. Find your Turning Point.
4 replies on “The Turning Point: Lessons Learned From a Stranger at a Restaurant”
This is an incredibly moving and inspirational article! This may be your best one yet! Thank you for sharing this and reminding me of the turning points in my life! 🙂
Thank you for saying so, Peter, and I am glad you enjoyed this one!
You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand.
It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am
looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!