Sometimes we can make fun of the "hokey" things churches do to encourage connection with one another. Back in the day, it was popular to draw names among the women and have "secret sisters". For a year you were to pray for that person and, if you felt like doing so, send them encouraging notes or thoughtful little gifts.
Ever since I can remember, I struggled with a deep sense of loneliness, a sense of no one understanding or "getting" me. Daddy seemed to be the one who most understood my sensitive spirit and my tendency to give in to flights of fancy. Mama's love language was acts of service. She wasn't one to talk about feelings or emotions, or one to give in to the world of dreams and imagination. When Daddy left Mama and us kids, I felt like I was left with no one in the world who understood me.
While outwardly, I was a good student and excelled in school, and a good Christian girl, busy and involved in my church, inwardly I struggled. I would shut myself in my room for long periods of time and escape the inward loneliness, (and what I now know were bouts of depression), through daydreaming until I would fall asleep. I created whole, very unrealistic, scenarios of my future life, including a husband, kids and a home. I escaped frequently to this place where I was never lonely and was always understood.
During this season, our church decided to do the "secret sister" thing, only they matched an older woman with one of the youth group girls. My "secret sister" turned out to be a young wife and mama,
who didn't know, and maybe still doesn't know, that a note from her changed my life. The note, that I still have to this day, said things that no one had ever said to me before...not Daddy, not Mama, not my pastor, no one. She wrote that God had a good plan for my life. She said she felt there was a "call" on my life for ministry.
That encouragement, that note that probably took no more than five minutes to write, opened my mind and heart to a life of wide open possibilities. It was, to me, like I had been set free from a cage into a wide open place. It opened the door for me to realize that there was Someone who got me, who understood me, who had made me like I was for a purpose and who had a good plan for my life.
This realization led me to go to a Christian college after I graduated from high school. Mama couldn't afford to help me pay for school but God provided for me in a miraculous way that further encouraged me about His good plans for my life.
It was at college that I met and married my husband. By God's grace, we have built a beautiful life that is about as far from the perfect life I concocted in my daydreams as east is from west. But the seed planted by that little note that that lonely teenager received, the seed of truth that I was made by God the way I was for a reason and that it was for His good plan and purpose, has sustained me through the times that even my husband didn't get me.
I've come to realize, no human being is able to fully understand another. Let's be honest, half of the time I don't even understand myself! But when a young wife and mama sat down to write me a note all those years ago, the Spirit of the One who made me and knows me fully, wrote through her, and it changed my life forever.
I'm joining the gang and writing a post for Imperfect Prose.
The prompt this week is ENCOURAGE.
also linking over at Ann's place: