Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
I stood there shocked. It was the day after my roommates and I had thrown a huge party. I had just opened the cupboards and realized that we had no food left.
When I first moved out on my own there was a tremendous amount of adjustment time. I was young, foolish and kept bad company. To make matters worse, I didn't know how to budget, I had bills to pay, I had to finish my schooling, and I couldn't find a job better than a counter attendant/bakery assistant at a donut shop. I worked graveyard shifts for over a year at the wage of $6.10/hour and I did this while attending high school. How I did it, I really don't know. Those were not the best times in my life.
I remember moving from cupboard to cupboard and feeling completely overwhelmed by their emptiness. To make matters worse, we had no money. Nothing. Not a penny until our pay cheques, which were over a week and a half away. I knew I could eat one free meal at the donut shop every day but I had no idea what I was going to do for my other meals.
That was when I realized: We needed to go to the food bank.
I remember trying to think of an alternative. I believed that food banks were for homeless people, that I would be taking from someone needier than myself. However, I soon realized that if I didn't go, there would be repercussions. I needed food to keep my mind and body healthy.
I swallowed my pride and went.
I remember being so fearful, wondering if they would turn me away. My stomach was in knots, partially from the hunger and partially from the anxiety of knowing that my life had come to this.
The staff at the food bank was kind, understanding and gave us more than enough food to get us through two weeks.
Due to ongoing financial challenges, I ended up using the food bank for almost a year.
This is something I haven't told anyone in my life... until now. I was afraid of being judged. I was concerned that others would think I was weak because I had to rely on a social service for help. I was frightened that it would change the way my friends and family view me.
However, the reality is, we all have times of need. We all have moments when we need to reach out for help. At that time in my life, I was thankful for the food bank and the services they provided. Their services helped feed my mind and body so that I could continue with my education.
A couple of decades later, I find myself regularly donating food and volunteering at the food bank. I've even written a post on how to help your local food bank. The help that they extended to me in my time of need will never be forgotten.
This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back © 2015 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.
Follow Jennifer Bly at TheDeliberateMom.com.
Cover image via lev radin / Shutterstock.com.