Making the Best of a Bad Situation, by Paula Rose Michelson

Before you read today’s text, you might be able to understand Naomi better if you ask yourself:

1). If I were Naomi, frightened, alone, and inside the old Tía’s house what would I fear, or wish for?

2). If I felt bereft of everything, with no hope in sight and nothing to cling to, how would I act?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Text

            The old woman put the kettle on to boil. “I will make some tea and we will talk.” When the teapot whistled, she set the leaves to steep. While they waited, she made a phone call. “Hola, Flora. Please tell everyone at the market that I am sorry I was unable to hand out paychecks. I had to go to immigration. Tell them I will be in tomorrow.” She placed her hand over the receiver and looked at Naomi. “What would you like to eat?” Naomi shrugged. When she did not answer, the old woman turned away and continued her conversation.

            The girl took a moment to take in her surroundings and discovered that the cheerful gingham wallpaper and spotless kitchen helped her feel at home in spite of her fears. She noticed that the kitchen tiles were reminiscent of an advertisement she had seen in a recent magazine. Believing that only the needy trafficked in others’ misery, she sighed with relief.

            “What would you like to eat?”

            “Whatever you have will be fine.” It seemed to Naomi that the woman had decided to treat her as a guest instead of the prisoner she knew herself to be. Her emotions heightened; she remembered how foolish she had been to trust Mr. Sosa and admitted to herself that she had been naive to accept this woman’s help without knowing what she had agreed to. Aware that she had placed herself in peril, she hardened her heart as she sat on the edge of the chair. The meal ordered the two of them, captor and captive, waited for it to arrive. Alone in this strange new land, Naomi tried to fight off her fear of this unknown woman and the situation as she reminded herself, There was no other choice.

            “Naomi,” the old tía said at last as her gaze swept over the girl. “Tell me how you came to be at immigration.”

            “Well …” Naomi stalled. How much do I tell this woman? Do I tell her the truth, and if not, what should I leave out or make up?

            “Naomi!” her sponsor snapped, her voice demanding an immediate answer. “Do not think about what to say. Just tell me, in the simplest way possible, how you came to be there.”

            Naomi swallowed. It seemed best to tell the truth, so she began, “I came with the Sosa family. I was the companion to their blind grandmother.”

            “That is an unusual job for one so young to have. By the looks of you, I would not think you more than twelve.”

            Naomi strained to sit taller in the chair. “I am fifteen.”

            Tía rose to fill their cups. “How does a girl as young as you find a job with a family coming America? You had not been a companion before, had you?”

            Naomi watched the old tía bring the cups to the table, took her first sip, and gulped down courage. “I was in need of employment.” Aware that the warm feelings she usually associated with tea did not exist here, she continued, “There was this family with a blind grandmother. They required someone to tend to her every need as well as read, play the piano, and help her enjoy the tour. They thought I might do.”

            “But you are so young. Why did they pick you?”

            “I do not know. Perhaps it was because I agreed to work for no wage.”

            “I see.” Tía’s gaze swept over the girl.

            Aware that what she said might have led the woman to think her easy to manipulate, Naomi added, “They pledged to help me find my uncle once they settled here. Then they changed their minds.”

            The old woman waved her comments away. Feeling them dismissed, she went against her upbringing and added, a note of pride in her voice, “But it was Abuela Sophia who chose me for herself!”

            “I see you found favor with her?”

            Mortified by her outburst, Naomi cast her eyes down and quietly admitted, “Yes.”

            “Then I am certain you will find favor with me also.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Authors Comments

Tía’s expectations and Naomi’s fear of the situation she finds herself in are almost palatable. However, each of us is made of stronger stuff than we realize unless pressed to bare up under overwhelming obstacles. For learning to deal with life as it comes teaches us how to be true to our essence, that hard core of resolve which cannot be shaken. Yet, when we looked back, I imagine that each of us would recognize our crucible moments, moments where we learned how to yield to the situation without becoming other than we are. Some call these moments defining. In Naomi’s, mine, and perhaps in your situation the feeling might be one of hiding. And if that is how it felt it is sometimes hard to tell oneself that they acted rightly. But I am here to tell you that if you fall into this category, the better part of valor was to survive. After survival, which is the highest priority is insured, other things follow.

Now you might wonder what those other priorities are, so I’ll mention three:

1). Freedom to be

2). Freedom to think

3). Freedom to choose

Neither the things listed nor the ones you might want to add can fulfill Naomi’s or our needs at times. Because Scripture can, let me suggest one that has warmed my heart. Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By now you may be scratching your head because sighting this verse in light of our heroines’ dilemma might seem odd. I agree! However, odd as it appears ‘saved’ as in being ‘forgiven’ for something you have done or omitted to do is always a good place to begin, so let’s begin. And who knows, perhaps by extending ‘grace and forgiveness’ to ourselves and others, we might see by the end of chapter onehow this horrid place and woman could become an unexpected blessing.

Want to find out what happens before my next posting? Visit and order your copy of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, and if you think your friends would enjoy joining you on this journey ask them to tag along as well. 

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