Finding God in the Goodwill Women’s Bin

Last week I posted at sharing how I found God’s provision in the least expected and the most unlikely of places.  He does things like that.

I was sitting in my chair mending the lace insets in my bras because I could not afford to buy new ones. Without warning, I burst into tears of frustration and anger. I’d always been frugal but this was outrageous.

Seven months earlier, I retired from my twenty-five-year career. I had every reason to expect a good regular monthly income from this work for the next decade when my dad fell and broke his hip and his days of independent living were over. We had barely begun planning how to bring him home with us and hire help to care for him when just two weeks later, the unthinkable happened. My former employer declared bankruptcy and it soon became apparent there was no assurance how much, if anything, we would receive in a settlement with the creditors.

At the same time, I was emerging from a season of deep grief after the deaths of my only living sibling, my mother, and my husband’s job loss at the church he’d served. In the midst of yet another life-changing round of devastating news, initially, I did not express anger toward the company or even God. I was determined to maintain a peaceful, spiritually-victorious demeanor.

The day I broke down while mending my old bras, I began to see the “peace” and “grace” I’d been exhibiting for what they really were – ways of denying my feelings about what had happened to us.

A few weeks later, I was at Goodwill. I always liked searching for treasure there.  Now I was resentful because I was shopping there out of fiscal necessity. Rooting around in the pile in the “Women’s Bin”, I uncovered three new name-brand-still-in-the-boxes bras for $1.50 each – and they were all my size.

I froze. As I stood there, I sensed God speaking to my soul: “I can take care of you in ways you never thought you’d need.”

This was about more than God providing some new bras.  It was the beginning of a long journey, learning to own my feelings of fear, doubt, despair, and anger, and trust God with emotions that didn’t feel “spiritual.” There would be a counselor and friends who walked with me through these emotions as I came to a place of learning to trust doesn’t mean there is never fear. I discovered my fear, even my anger, can drive me to my faith, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

It was the first, but not the last time I allowed myself to express negative emotions to “God.  The surprise to me was this:  expressing to him what he already knew defused the intensity of my emotions. With time, I was more able to listen to him and what he might have to say. All of me – even the seemingly-negative parts of my life – is safe with him. This knowledge gives me the freedom to be real, and to receive the real comfort he offers me, his beloved child.

Visit for additional stories of “growing deeper in the dirt and light of mid-life” from others who are right there in the middle of it all.

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