Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kissed by a Stranger



 Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed and wondered. I plotted three dozen stories in swirl binder notebooks, all of them starting with the simple phrase: “What if…”
What if…What if a girl named Stevey grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and she—she lived during the Great Depression in one of those poor shanty communities. Secretly, she dreams of becoming an plane pilot…
I’ve asked question of so many of my fictional characters that it seems perfectly appropriate to ask it of myself.
What if I became an author…?
A real, honest-to-goodness published author!
“Beauty. Truth. And goodness,” my high school lit. teacher’s voice rings back to me.  
Yes, Mrs. L. those are the things I will write about.
Experiences—the ones that matter, the ones that change us need to be given voice, to be shaped by those choice golden words.
As long as I write with truth people will listen. As long as I write about beauty they will identify. As long as I write about goodness people will care. I will write things that should matter to everyone but rarely do because no one has learned to say them. I am learning to say them. 
Stories matter. They are a fragment of human history, a piece of an experience which changes a life forever…
As I was writing the above a woman walked into the coffee shop and struck up a conversation with me.
“I could never sit like that!” she said indicating to my cross-legged-atop a high stool posture.
I laughed, “It’s the only way I’m comfortable sitting. I work in an office and my boss makes fun of me, but doesn’t object!” I tossed back good-naturedly. (Do people even say “good-naturedly” anymore? Well, either way that’s the adverb I’m using.)
We started talking and I asked her where she lived and where she was from originally. She mentioned she was moving because her husband passed away 6 months ago. I expressed my sincere sympathy and asked how she was doing. Not the usual, polite, ‘how are you doing?’ But the seriously-I-care-about-you-as-a person-and-recognize-this-is-an-inexpressible-life-altering-loss, “HOW are you doing?”
She drew a deep sigh. “We were together for 47 years. I miss him. Especially on weekends…” she said. And that was all she needed to say. Her round, wrinkled face wore a mask of strength over deep sadness. In those words, I saw much. Much more than what was said. A life of love, companionship, togetherness…where death didn’t belong. Death is one of those things we humans will never get used to. It shocks us every time in a new, different way.
“Theresa, can I pray for you?” I asked, rather a natural question over one I had to think about.
She nodded. “Sure,” her voice trembled she stepped forward and hugged me, kissing my cheek.
I prayed for her; just a short, gentle prayer of comfort and to sense God’s love for her. Every time I quoted scripture she squeezed my hand tighter. I offered to come and visit, we exchanged numbers and she left. That was all. But it meant so much to me to meet her. I’ve never been kissed by a stranger before!
Funny how a glimpse into the life of a sudden acquaintance can change you. You have this sudden amazing revelation hit you when you realize that you are not the only person on the planet who is a real person! You smack your forehead and go, “Wow!” And you see the people all around you in traffic jams and the unsmiling, teenager ringing out up at a gas station and you’re going, “Wow that’s a real person with his own issues and story.”  
That’s what meeting Theresa reminded me of. Maybe because I had recently lost someone I loved and I was able to connect to her humanness. That humanness piece causes one understood and felt and no matter if you are worlds apart in everything else, you can identify at least on one thing. The element that lies at the back of everything it wears the faces of truth, beauty and goodness.
But I know it as...
Love. 

13 comments:

  1. My goodness this was simply beautiful beyond words my friend...wow.

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    1. Thank you SO much O.E.!
      That's very encouraging! :)

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  2. that was a really good post...it really made me smile when i read it...thank you
    smile, GOD made you amazing
    brian

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    1. Thanks Brian!
      Making people smile is my second favorite hobby. So yay! Score!
      You're right, God gets all the credit for anything good in me because apart from Him I have no good thing.

      As always thank for reading!

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  3. That was lovely Bethany! :)
    Isn't it awesome how God brought her to you and you to her, and you could share a time of prayer together. I've had a few times sitting next to people on crowded trains or looking down over a crowd thinking, I may never see this person again in my life, and there are so many people with so many stories, but God is a part of them all. He knows and loves each heart so passionately. He knows there schedules, languages, hurts, pains, joys, and He says He loves us with an everlasting love. ... God is so amazing!

    P.S. Your writing IS fantastic! You've got a great ability to share the details in such a way that they do convey beauty, truth, and goodness. You're teacher would be proud! :) In fact I think you write wonderfully well! I once started to write a novel. I laid out the outline of the chapters etc. but a few slow starts later I decided I didn't have the skill/patience to fill in all the details LOL. Perhaps one day I'll revisit it(if I can speed up my typing). But as for you , you could totally be a published author Bethany (and I'm not just saying that). God has definitely blessed you with talent for writing and you seem to have a heart for it too. So keep writing and pursuing it as Jesus guides you. Then it won't be a matter of "if" but when! :)

    God bless :)

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    1. Dear J.

      First let me say that this was such an encouragement to me. I really appreciate your opinion and critique--it encourages me to move forward in confidence as a writer--often times I feel I lack experience/ability and this paralyzes me from moving forward and actually trying to get published. But I'm moving out of that now and forward into a maturity of attitude where I go, "I don't care if 10 editors tell me my work is 'good' but not 'great'--I'm going to keep at it till one of them sees it contains something special. I've been struck by the thought lately of "Wow what we could do if we didn't have fear." Fear holds us back from the destiny that God has called us to fulfill. --I manage a call center in mobilization (I already told you that) and I talk to dozens of teens and young people every day on the phone and all of them are so bound up in fear that I grieve that they are missing what God is calling them do to.
      Abandoned Obedience--that is what every Christian must possess. I'm convinced of it.
      Well that was a steam of consciousnesses--hopefully you can make sense of it. :)

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    2. Qualifier: I didn't mean to say "all" the people I talk to are bound up in fear. That's an overstatement. Many is the word I choose. There are some that are really walking out in faith which is super encouraging to me.

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    3. Dear B.
      That’s wonderful! :) I’m glad you were encouraged as you most definitely “got skills.” I think the main difference between “good” writing and “great” comes down to purpose. There are so many entertaining, insightful, heartwarming, attention grabbing etc. etc. well written prose/non prose out there, but what truly makes writing great is inspired word. By that I mean, if your purpose is to show love and glorify God, whether directly or indirectly, with a piece of writing, then I believe it can/will be great. Maybe not always to the worlds standards of greatness, but it can be truly life changing. Perhaps this says it better “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (LOL not meaning to preach at you) I just wanted to encourage you to be a great writer as that seems to be the path your on! :) But regardless of what I say, in the end follow Jesus and what He places on your heart and you can’t go wrong. :)
      You’re so right about the fear thing, it can be epidemic these days. It seems that when people aren’t fearing their messengers of it(very generally speaking). But fear is a big temptation today, that people don’t realize is a temptation. Many think that fear is a product of circumstance or something beyond their lack of control, instead of it being a temptation to be overcome. You said it well that "Fear holds us back from the destiny that God has called us to fulfill.” There are MANY times I wish I hadn’t given into fear. But Jesus is teaching me that faith and fear are enemies. Jesus says that perfect love casts out all fear, and it’s so true. He has won the victory and when we fix our eyes on Him and believe His word, not only will our houses stand strong on the rock in the midst of storms, but He will also give us ability to overcome because He is holding us and leading the way(ala Psalm 23) . Anyway, now I’m rambling on so I’ll finish by saying this. God bless your writing and heart, may you share Christ’s love and bring Him glory with both! :)

      P.S. Amen to your point on Abandoned Obedience, seems so hard sometimes, but Jesus had it and He lives in us. So we just need to walk in faith and then we can freely obey. :)
      P.P.S. sorry this is so long.

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    4. Qualifier: As you probably knew, I wasn't referencing the good kinds of fear. i.e. the fear the draws us to God and away from evil(such as the "fear of the Lord")as being an enemy of faith, but I was refering to fear that causes us to flee from relationships with God and man, the fear of death or of trouble etc. That kind is an enemy of faith. Producing worries which choke the goodnews/hope in our hearts. Which is why I love the commend of Jesus "Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God believe also in me" That is why we can have abandoned obedience, because we believe in, love, and trust Jesus. :)

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    5. Thanks so much! I agree with everything you said just there.

      This was really encouraging! Thank you for taking the time to read and take an interest in what I write--I can't tell you how encouraging that is!

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  4. Oh Bethy Face! I second what they said and especially the last one. I loved reading this. Still want to go and meet her with you :) MUCH Love!!!!!! Can't wait to see you.

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    1. Erin Face! Thanks for reading! So story...The other day I was alone in my house and I wanted to spend time with someone, but the only person I really wanted to spend time with was you. But you weren't there of course. So I made popcorn and ate the whole bowl and watched a foreign film.
      Also, I've been having all these weird dreams that I really want to discuss with someone--but Katie doesn't like to hear about my dreams they, "Weird her out." You are the only person who will talk to me about my dreams! ahah!
      Haha! Love you like a sister!

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