For years, I’ve refused to take part in the Black Friday shopping madness. I enjoy crowds about as much as I enjoy a root canal, and this year is no exception.

A few years ago, however, I set aside my hard-and-fast-no-Black-Friday-rule because I’m a sucker for a handsome face. That year, I was asked on a date by a very handsome six-year-old.

Early that Friday morning, my son came into my room and wrapped his arms around me. “Mommy,” he whispered. “Let’s go on a breakfast date, just me and you.”

My heart melted. Who could turn down such an invitation? So I got up, dressed for a date, curled my hair and applied my lipstick just so. Then, my date picked me up at my bedroom door and escorted me to the car. I drove, as he would have had a little trouble seeing over the steering wheel.

“Where would you like to go?” I asked.

“McDonald’s.”

Of course. I steered toward the Golden Arches, but he stopped me before I turned into the parking lot. “Oh, no, Mommy. Not this McDonald’s. I want to go to the one inside WalMart.”

Well, I was so enamored with my date I totally forgot it was Black Friday. I forgot as I battled the traffic. I forgot as I searched, nearly in vain, for a parking space. I forgot until I was right smack-dab in the middle of WalMart, in the middle of a mob that would’ve made Woodstock seem like a small, intimate gathering. And then, I remembered.

I headed toward the McDonald’s, but my date, with his arm linked through mine, headed for the toy department. “Let’s just make a quick stop over here first,” he said.

So there we were, in the middle of the mad toy rush, in the middle of a sardine-smashed department store, in the middle of the very Black Friday crush I’d vowed to avoid. And yes, before all was said and done, I had an armload of merchandise.

So I ask you, dear readers, because I know you’ll tell me the truth.

Was I snookered by a six-year-old?

No matter. Once I took a few deep breaths and braced myself against the swarm, I ended up with some great deals. We eventually enjoyed pleasant conversation over an equally pleasant Egg McMuffin.

I’ve spent way too much of my life steering clear of things I thought would make me miserable, or leave me feeling crushed. But sometimes, the very place we avoid is the place God wants us. And the thing we dread turns out to be beneficial.

Although my son’s motives on that day weren’t entirely pure, I know I can always trust God’s plans for me. He may lead me into a storm—or a madhouse—but I can relax and breathe easy, knowing I’ll come through it with an armload of valuable life lessons. In the midst of it all, I can find peace. And since He promised to never leave me, I can enjoy some great conversations with Him along the way.

All I need now is the Egg McMuffin . . .