Pennie Hunt: A Lesson From A Stranger – Or Was She?

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By Pennie Hunt, Columnist

“If you keep saying he is shy, he is going to be shy.” 

I wasn’t thrilled to hear this comment from a stranger – or anyone for that matter. 

I was at a neighborhood rummage sale with my adorable young son. I say adorable in the most truthful and unbiased way because he was. His thick, dark hair framed his face, spotlighting his huge brown eyes. One blink of his long lashes and people were sucked in by his cuteness. 

Everyone wanted to talk to him, even if he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He clutched my leg hiding his face in my jeans. 

It was the same scenario everywhere we went. 

Three people at the rummage sale tried to talk to him and three times he hid his face. I just repeated, “He is shy.” 

A fourth woman came up behind me and in a quiet voice said, “If you keep saying he is shy, he is going to be shy.” 

I spun around, almost knocking over my son,who was firmly attached to my leg. Our eyes met: hers with truthful intention, mine filled with disbelief and a bit of anger. As quickly as her eyes jabbed me with the depth of her comment, she disappeared down the driveway and into a car. 

I didn’t have the chance to defend myself for stating what I thought was the truth – a protective statement to keep strangers away from my child. 

How dare she tell me what I should or shouldn’t say about my son?

The verbal smackdown I received kept me company as I went on with my day. Every time I replayed the interaction and heard the comment it dug deeper and deeper through my heart, lodging in my stomach. 

My anger turned to embarrassment when I realized she was right. Each time I said he was shy it embedded in my son’s mind, teaching him to be shy and reinforcing this trait. 

I wondered how many times I had said it in front of him. I knew it was many more than the three times at the garage sale that day. I do know that was the last time.

I have never forgotten this experience. I am grateful to the woman who gave me this lesson that made such an impact on me and, without him knowing it, on my son. 

I have had similar experiences in my life when a stranger seemed to be at the right place at a time when I needed to be given an important lesson, then vanished as quickly as they arrived. 

Are they Earth Angles that arrive with special assignments to teach us, guide us and turn us toward the correct path? Maybe they are giving us a swift smackdown, a quick pick-up or a powerful nudge to wake us up and save us from our own good intentions. 

I guess you will have to decide the answer to that question for yourself.  I know what I believe. I believe angels don’t have to be hiding wings under a trench coat or dropping feathers with every lesson. I believe angels walk with us through our days and touch our lives right here on Earth teaching us and bringing us simple gifts of truth. 

Many times we don’t notice when it happens, but the lessons sink into our minds. 

Oh, and that adorable boy with the big brown eyes and thick dark hair is no longer hiding behind my leg. In fact, he is now a very handsome and very successful man who can often be seen presenting on a stage to more than 12,000 people. 

I say that in the most truthful, unbiased and proud way because he is.

Pennie’s Life Lesson: Pay attention to the lessons you learn from strangers. They may be angels in disguise delivering the most important messages of all.

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