How I Learned About Rejoicing in the Sock Aisle at Target

This is the story of how I ended up crying my eyes out in the sock aisle of Target … and I learned about rejoicing.

Oh, the adventures a woman can have at Target, am I right ladies?! The possibilities are endless, even when the paycheck is small. This particular venture that beckoned me to the big red bull’s eye was not a usual fanciful pit stop for me. I knew that. It might be hard. I knew that, too.

And I went anyway.

I walked slowly through the automatic doors and felt the rush of inside air blow cold in my face. Methodically grabbing a red-wheeled cart, I breathed in and out, and determinately walked past the aisles of my regular perusing. While the sweater cardigans and housewares called out to me, I had come for a very specific reason. I would not be deterred.

You see, just the day before, my sister and lifelong friend told me wonderful news. “Surprise!” after 5 years and 5 children, the Lord had blessed them with new life. With her youngest in kindergarten, she had just found out that they were expecting again. In her tenderness, she confided her concerns and expressed her joy over this God-answered prayer. She even confessed that she didn’t own any more baby clothes or bottles or any of the paraphernalia that go along with wee ones.

Being a pragmatist and wanting to show my love and support, of course, I went to Target! I guided the wheels of my empty shopping cart towards the foreign aisles of newborn novelties.

And … I stood there.

And … I gripped the handle till my knuckles were white.

And … I smelled the sweet unfamiliar fragrance of tiny little things.

And … I stared down the aisles full of wares I never let myself dream of.

And … I felt my chest ache with the all too familiar knowing that this visit would not fill my basket with items for myself or an infant life with my DNA.

And … I willed myself to keep walking.

I walked to the pacifiers and blinked steadily at the sea of choices. I reached out mechanically and dropped one in my cart, telling the ache in my heart to keep quiet. I went to the bottles and attempted smiles at the faded memories of what brand my sister used when feeding her children before. I went to the aisle with bibs and socks and clothes the size of my forearm and adjusted my breathing to slow my changing heart rate.

And then … a mom walked by. Coddling a sleeping infant in a front sling, swaying with that natural rhythm that all mothers instinctively know. She kissed his bald head and heaved a whiff of real live newborn scent.

And. I. Lost. It.

I ran to the nearest aisle away from all of the things that reminded me of empty unfulfilled prayers and my own desperate bargains with God.

And I cried. And cried. And cried. Gut-wrenching, clenched-in sobs, so as not to disturb the rest of the public setting. I stifled through years of longing and wondering and obvious questions that still remained unanswered.

I didn’t begrudge my sister this new joy. In fact, I was genuinely excited about her announcement and couldn’t wait to utterly spoil another bundle. But years of watching God dole out His wholehearted yesses, while in those same years feel Him hold the answers to my prayers at bay had rubbed raw my mustered bravery.

In my heart, I ran to the Throne Room and threw myself at the mercy seat to beg for enough composure to make it out in one piece. I expected to hear sweet words of comfort from God (or at least sanity) that I could rely on when I’m losing my mind in public. But this is all that my heart heard: “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

I was so startled by the Holy Spirit’s words that I finally looked up and realized I was in the sock aisle at Target. With my puffy face and blotchy eyes and drippy nose, I realized I couldn’t breathe and I did the only illogical thing that a woman who has lost her dignity would do. I reached out for a pair of socks and … blew my nose in them. Oh yes, I did. (This is not a proud moment, ladies, but this is exactly what happened.) 

Really?  I thought. I rolled my eyes heavenward, disappointed at my answer and quibbled: Well, that’s not very helpful! In fact, it’s the very opposite of helpful. Where are the promises about the Lord being near to the broken-hearted or giving us heart desires? The Holy Spirit chooses now to remind me to rejoice? To rejoice

I stormed out of Target, headed for my car, reached for my Bible and plopped open to Romans 12:15. It reads: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” As I did some digging in a favorite online resource, and softened my heart to the Word of the Lord, little did I know that this was exactly what I needed to hear.

This verse is not a suggestion or a question. It is a command.

The Apostle Paul understands both rejoicing and weeping with others as necessary attitudes and behaviors for believers in Christ. To ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ is to find joy in the circumstances of another with the same enthusiasm and vigor as though it were happening to us.

I have been guilty of focusing on the weeping with others because, frankly, it is easier to hurt with someone than to see God’s blessings unfold in the life of another. But this is why the rejoicing is so critically important.  It divorces us from our need for self-love, self-soothing, and (my favorite go-to) self-pity, putting the focus on someone other than ourselves.

This isn’t a resigned smile or a determined happiness, this is joy that is genuine and exuding. This is entering into the rejoicing with them. Allowing yourself to fully participate in their joy because the Lord understands that you need moments of joy just as much as whomever you are rejoicing over.

Here is the blessing that I discovered on that day. By engaging in someone else’s rejoicing, I get to experience joy myself! And don’t we all need some more joy in our lives?! I don’t begrudge the moment of flesh hesitation…the one where you end up crying your eyes out in a sock aisle or drenching a pillow with tears. It doesn’t come easily to put ourselves aside. And Romans 12:15 provides for weeping as well. The encouragement here is that we don’t have to do that alone. The Lord is such a gracious and compassionate God that He provides community for days of joy and nights of tears.

I shut my Bible and texted a friend of mine to pray for me as I got back out of my car. Walking through the aisles of Target, I found my abandoned shopping cart and went to the fateful sock section. Finding the unfortunate pair that I had…well…used, I put them in my cart and smiled to myself. I was able to finish my celebration shopping trip complete with bottles, bibs, pacifier, the most adorable onesie I could find…and a random pair of pink and grey socks.

And then I headed straight to SELF-checkout!

23 thoughts on “How I Learned About Rejoicing in the Sock Aisle at Target”

  1. Deana says:

    How I love this and how I love you.

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Oh my friend … same same!

  2. Tara says:

    So good. So so good. There isn’t a woman alive that doesn’t struggle with rejoicing with those who rejoice….& (sometimes) weeping with those who weep. I’m incredibly guilty. Sometimes it’s because it’s because I’m oblivious, consumed with the present or drowning in cares of the future. That needs to change. This post was raw, vulnerable and spoke convicting words with such grace.

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      THANK YOU for your love and support, for always having words of wisdom, and for being life giving! Grateful to call you sister – you inspire me. PS … I’m not the only writer in the family (hint, hint) … let me know when you start your blog haha!

  3. susan nations says:

    I wish I could take one little bit of credit for the woman you have become. But alas, I cannot. But to watch you grow as a little girl, then to a lovely teenager, to a servant of all, to a stedfast woman of faith—Wow! I’m just glad I know ya. I love you fiercely, girl.

  4. Maria Shepherd says:

    Kim you are so amazing and such a great example for so many young women. So glad you are willing to be open and vulnerable with others. Praying God continues to use you mightily!!!

  5. Yvette says:

    Love your style of writing and selection of topic. At the end of a long day, your article brought a smile to my face, warmth to my heart, and truth into my mind. Thank you! As a sinner, so in need of our Savior, I need all the help, direction and real life advice I can get. I am so good at crying with others, but no so good with celebrating with others. Thank you for showing where we are missing some of the joy that God has made available to us.
    Keep on writing!

  6. Nancy says:

    This is excellent!! Kim I would love to be part of your blog. You are so gifted at both speaking and writing!

  7. Debbie Alexander says:

    Kim I love your real honest emotions in your story. I chuckle at the image of you blowing your nose into the socks. So glad you went back inside Target to finish your shopping….and to buy your snot nose socks. I hope they were cute so you could wash and wear them, and have the story attached to them to tell others anytime you wore them.

  8. Robin says:

    Great article, Sweet Friend!! So very thankful that many moons ago God blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of and watch you grow into the precious, godly woman you have become. It makes my heart smile knowing you are pursuing God’s calling for you in women’s ministry. He has gifted you with a hear and desire to serve others. Not to mention as a writer!! I love and miss you!

  9. Becky Costello says:

    Beautiful writing Kim — thanks for sharing your heart ❤️– praying God’s perfect will & His perfect timing in your life.

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Becky … your prayer is my daily cry to the Lord … whatever perfection looks like to Him, take my life and let it me. Thank you desperately for your prayers, they sustain! Your encouragement made my day today 🙂

  10. Trina Hager says:

    Kim, you’re an incredible writer! I followed every single, descriptive word and was right there in that Target with you. Truth is, I know all to well what those feelings are like when it’s so difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice. I was infertile and I questioned God’s plan for my life more times than I care to remember. Why were all my friends and family being blessed, while I was left with only unanswered prayers. The pain is real! I walked many aisles of baby bibs to onesies and felt that same gut-wrenching cry that you spoke of. But God showed me that I was missing the great joy that He wanted me to have while sharing in their joy. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I was so glad I did. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and telling your story.

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Trina-girl … your words echo my heart! Thank you for sharing your wonders and questions so we can wonder together. Real pain followed by real lessons doesn’t make the memory fade, but you’re right, does turn it into something that can be joyed and celebrated. To God be praised! Thank you for your solidarity sister … I’ll meet you in the next sock aisle!

  11. Millie Conway says:

    Great article Kim! I’m so thankful that years ago God brought you into my life as a coworker so I could know you better. So proud of what you are doing and your heart for Women’s Ministry. You are a gifted writer and this article touched my heart, especially because it helped me to relate better to what my own godly daughter might be feeling and going through. May God continue to bless you.

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Oh Mrs. Millie! Loved the time I spent working with you. Your smile was a constant encouragement and your laughter one of my favorites. Today, your godly daughter is on my mind and I’ll ask the Lord about her tender heart. Prayers of encouragement and steadiness for both of you today.

  12. Carolyn Fugerer says:

    Kimmy…we don’t really know each other. But I do feel I know you well enough from afar since I started going to IBC 24 Yrs ago, to call you that. I’ve watched the beautiful young women of God youve grown into over the years & now absolutely Love your style of writing which so vividly reflects your open, honest heart for God & life! You are a gifted writer & encourager! I would love to follow your blog! Lord Bless you in all that you do. Its evident He is doing & will continue to do great things in you!!

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Carolyn … you are welcome to call me Kimmy! Keeps me young and don’t we all need that! Grateful for your words of encouragement. When I’m home again let’s schedule a hug so I can thank you in person.

  13. Krista Kotova says:

    Such beautiful words & thank you for sharing your heart. So thankful I got to see you the other Sunday. Praying for you and your journey.
    Much love & Big hugs!

    1. Kim Whitten says:

      Was so wonderful to see you as well! Thank you for prayers, I covet them!

  14. Claire says:

    This touched me. Thank you for those words.

  15. Joyce Pelham says:

    Kim, my daughter struggled with the same thing. She had graduated from Stetson with a degree in psychology & minor in Music. Taught school in Seminole for a year and realized she needed more education as she was also doing youth work at Seminole FBC. She decided to go to seminary SWTS in Fort Worth. We drove out to Tx, she enrolled, graduated and went to work in the hospital there as a counselor to inpatients –Arlington__ There she met her husband, Ron who had been to Baylor (got 2 degrees there) then 2-3 at SWTS & had never married…God had a plan as both of them had decided that God wanted them single for a reason. He was 35 she was 31. God blessed them with 2 boys (my G-kids) & both are serving in the ministry at Marlow Oklahoma… Keep your chin up. God has something or someone special for you.

  16. Judith Karen Hawkins says:

    Kimberly, this was such an emotional experience you shared. I could relate as I couldn’t get pregnant and later God blessed me with my 2 sons by adoption. You are so gifted and I loved reading your blog. You are a special niece and I love you dearly!!! Love you!!!