About twenty years ago we were living in Ontario and I had a penpal friend in New Jersey named Dawn. In Sept of ‘93 we were planning a move so I thought I should write and give her my new address; my mind was also turning over her last letter and I wanted to share some concerns I had for her in her disturbing situation. So I wrote, sent my letter off with a prayer, then went about my life.
A month later I opened a letter from her and read: “Christine you mean so much to me! You’ll never know how much you helped me with your last letter.”
(What last letter? When had I written her? Hmm, I vaguely remembered… Oh, yeah. Back in the summertime just before we moved, I had a particular thought on my heart, something I should tell her.)
Now I’ll go back and fill you in on our previous exchange. About six months earlier Dawn had written to tell me of her sad discovery: her husband was running around with another woman. Her fury toward him and “that slut” were palpable; it’s a wonder the letter didn’t burst into flames en route to my box! I pondered it for awhile, then sat down and wrote one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write.
I would have loved to commiserate with her, and I did to some extent, but I had to remind her, too, that anger is such an acid it will burn holes in the container (her). Yes, “that slut” was wrong to steal her husband, but Dawn had gone through turbulent teen years, too, and did some things she wasn’t proud of. I reminded her of how worthless she’d felt as a teen and the things she‘d done when her self-esteem was in the pits. I encouraged her to have just a bit of compassion for that girl and let go of her anger toward both of them, for her own sake.
I didn’t hear from her for several months, so I wrote another letter, apologizing if I’d offended her–and she phoned me. When she first read my letter, she told me, she was furious with me. “You’re supposed to be my friend. How dare you take her side and say these things!” But then she admitted with some gratitude, “Your letter helped me more than any others.”
A few months passed and, as I said, I had a new address to send, plus a concern for her because the situation in her home was still bad. (Her husband had taken to hanging out in bars, yet was super-particular with food & cleanliness at home.)
The thought came to me to tell her that even though things were all upside down in her life, she should use this time of uncertainty to seek the Lord, that He wanted to draw her close to Him and help her through these rough times. So when I wrote to her about our move, I shared these thoughts with her.
And I received this letter in return. I read on…
“The day your letter came I was at the end of my rope; I felt so lost & hopeless that I was all ready to kill myself. Yet for some reason I decided to go to the mailbox one last time–and there was your letter. I hadn’t written and certainly wasn’t expecting one from you.
“You wrote about life with all its ups and downs and the Lord wanting to draw me near to Him through all of this. You said life is a short road and we want Him to embrace us at the end, so we should embrace Him now and feel His love. I cried my eyes out! I really believe I’m alive today because of your words. I can’t believe I actually got that bad…”
Her words came as a major jolt to me! I had no particular urge or intense feeling to write her one special day. How could it be that I “happened” to send a letter that arrived exactly that day? It just happened? NO! We have since talked it over and are both very amazed; both of us believe the hand of God was at work, carrying that letter to its destination at exactly the right moment–and prompting her to go to the mailbox one last time.
But I tremble at such a close call. I deserve NO CREDIT! How many times have I pushed something off until a more convenient season? There’s always tomorrow. What if I had done that this time? Would I ever have had the chance to tell her those thoughts that were on my heart for her? I still tremble to think of it–and I want to be more careful in future to follow the Spirit!