Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coincidence? I Don't Think So!

I was talking with a young friend yesterday.  She has recently been released from Detention after a fairly lengthy incarceration.  She was anxious about the sudden emergence of temptation.  Temptation that had seemed distant and far from enticing when she was locked up, now is fiercely taunting her.  Having become trusting friends during her imprisonment, she called to see if I might come and help her get past it.  Awareness of the magnitude of the consequences of another slip has checked her inclination to give in and I rejoice over that.  Still she needs a more long term and permanent method, if she is to remain sober and out of trouble.  That she would ask for help is a very hopeful sign.

With her mother just out of ear shot, we sat in the living room of her home for about an hour discussing how we might proceed.  You see, I have been struggling with unusually persistent temptation lately as well.  Both of us are recovering addicts.  Neither of us has enough higher ground under foot, to presume to lift the other.  All we can do is commiserate and try to discover from our successes, how to overcome our failures.

As we spoke, my dear young friend observed that she needs to be occupied doing something productive.  So far, she hasn't got back in school, found a job, committed to attending church.  "Maybe," she said, "I just have too much idle time on my hands."  That really struck a chord with me.  A chord that had sounded in my ear once before on that day.  I'd gone to school to pick up my granddaughter from kindergarten.  I was reading a book while I waited.  The book is about freeing up more time and in the current chapter addresses the very real fact that people who acquire more time (by efficiency, retirement, etc.) often become depressed.  Then the author makes this observation:  "Too much free time is no more than fertilizer for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing.  Subtracting the bad does not create the good.  It leaves a vacuum.  Decreasing income-driven work isn't the end goal.  Living more - and becoming more - is."  Later he says, "Retirees get depressed for a second reason, and you will too: social isolation."  (see The 4- hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss) Oh, by the way, Sweetie had tried to teach me the same principle the night before!

So here we are, me and my young friend.  Both of us with a pile of free time on our hands, both of us isolated from clusters of friends from our previous situations and both of us - depressed, vulnerable, tempted and full of fear and anxiety.

We both concluded it was time for each of us to start living more and becoming more!

Now, do you not think it interesting that what I had just been taught by Sweetie, what I had just read in the book, what my friend had just observed, and what both of us were currently experiencing should all intersect at the same place and time?  Some would call that coincidence.  I'd rather think a loving Heavenly Father is orchestrating our lives.

Let me share a story from a few years ago.  I was driving for UPS.  One day, in a quite isolated and rural part of my route I was accosted by a little girl.  She said she wanted to grow up to be a UPS driver and asked for my autograph.  I had never been asked for my autograph before.  I didn't know what to make of it.  The little girl seemed desperate for attention and even affection.  That concerned me.  I didn't know if her parents were home.  I didn't feel comfortable encouraging her.  I could see she was desperate for love and all she wanted was a friend.  I just couldn't see how I could appropriately meet her need.  I chose to keep my distance.  As I drove away I studied the situation and concluded that if I encountered her with her pals around, I might be able to reach out a bit more safe and fittingly.

I had a model UPS truck at home and I took it to work intending to find an opportunity to give it to her along with some encouragement.  I carried it a couple of weeks before I encountered her again.  We'll call her Columbine, though that is not her name.  She was walking home from the bus stop with a few other kids and I pulled over.  I told her I was pleased she wanted to grow up to drive for UPS and that I had a little present for her.  I gave her the model package car.  She gave me a quick hug and ran to show her friends.  My prayers for her and my hope for an appropriate way to reach out to a sweet and melancholy child, had been answered.  She seemed so pleased to show her friends that she was important to somebody.  I only saw Columbine a time or two after that.  Her family moved away.  But I often wondered about that pretty little waif who seemed so desperate for love that she would seek it from a stranger.  I suppose, the UPS man seemed like a safe stranger, but still.

Anyway, yesterday, as I drove to see my troubled friend I passed Columbine's house.  I hadn't thought about her and the little UPS truck for years.  It was then it struck me - I was going to see Columbine!  Could they be the same person?  Could she be living in a different house in the same neck of the woods?  She could, and we both shed tears as we discovered that we had been friends much longer than we we'd been aware.  She told me she'd been abandoned by her father and that those were lonely, sad and confusing days.  She showed me she still cherishes her precious little UPS truck.

You might, again, call it coincidence.  But Columbine and I know that there is a third party to our friendship.  A loving Savior, who knows how to succor His children, each of us.

1 comment:

Love Life and Learning said...

My heart is full of gratitude for all that you shared here. We are part of a loving Heavenly Father's plan! There is nothing else to say. I love you Myke.

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