OK, two posts in two days. I’m sorry. But such a beautiful thing just occurred that I wanted to share. It’s about love, and given that it’s February, I think rather fitting.
My doorbell rang about 10 minutes ago. There, standing at my door, was my neighbor. This particular neighbor has never rang my doorbell. Several years ago, we stopped speaking to one another for reasons I won’t share.
As I looked out my window, my heart skipped a beat. As I said hello, I noticed he was holding a card in his hands. It had my name on it.
In a voice slightly difficult to understand, he explained to me that he had recently suffered a stroke and is a cancer survivor. With tears streaming down his face, and mine, we hugged. Two neighbors, who have had their differences in the past, forgiving each other for hurtful words said to one another. Hmm, maybe I do see a connection to yesterday’s blog.
As I opened the card, I read his words, “You will be in my daily prayers. My friends and I will pray for your speedy recovery.” Apparently he doesn’t know that my cancer is gone too. Now it’s my turn to knock on his door and share the good news.
Before he left, we hugged again. He and I both unable to talk. Tears were silencing our words.
As I closed my door, I thanked God. For it is He who can change hearts.
After my diagnosis, as I read my Bible more and more, I kept stumbling upon the verse “Love your neighbor as yourself.” -- Matthew 19:19. Quite honestly, I pretended not to see it. But it seemed to be written in bolder type than the rest of the verses I was reading.
How could I? I’ve said many hurtful words to a few of my neighbors over the years. Yes, this nice Christian girl has said a few things I’m so very not proud of.
But after renewing my relationship with God at the onset of my cancer, I felt a need to right all of my wrongs. Apologizing to my neighbors is where I began.
So I wrote three letters. One of them was to my neighbor who appeared on my doorstep today. I apologized for my words and that I was ashamed of myself for the way I handled our differences. I left it on the windshield of his car probably six months ago. Too timid to actually deliver it to his doorstep. Or into his hands.
But obeying God’s Word is healing. He can erase the pain that we often think can never go away.
So on this day that I expected to be quite uneventful, proved to be quite an event in this not-so perfect Christian girl’s life.
So the question of the day is this.
Is there a windshield of a neighbor or a friend that you can leave a letter on? Remember, nothing is too big for God.
Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Still isn’t. Just doesn’t rank up there with Christmas, does it? Though I do love roses and chocolate. And I don’t mean the red, long-stemmed version that cost more than a bush. I love garden roses. You know the kind you pick from your backyard (or in my case, front yard), cut real short and place in a jar with a sprig of ivy. I can put roses like that in every room of my house. And now that I’m “clean” and view chocolate as evil, the last thing I want my husband to do is hand me a heart-shaped box filled with the stuff. Although if it were a heart-shaped box of Nuts and Chews from See’s Candy....
No, it’s evil!
But speaking of hearts. I was wondering -- just how much do we cherish the hearts of those around us. The hearts of our husbands, our children, our friends?
I’m learning that from the heart, speaks the tongue. Just one wrong word can hurt so much.
I know this because I’m human. And I’ve said my share of things that fall into the, “I wish I could take that back category.”
Just this week, my son and I have been working on his fifth grade state report. Thank goodness I have only one child who will embark upon this project. It’s not that I don’t love learning about Alabama every day of every week since December fifteenth, but I can think of other things I’d rather be doing. Laundry? Root canal? Pap smear?
But believe it or not, in my haste to finish up late one night, I caught myself saying things that were anything but encouraging and supportive to my son. Somewhere between “Montgomery” (the state capital, if you were unaware) and “pecans” (the state nut, if you were wondering), I lost it. We ended that night on a low, and I felt even lower as I got into bed that night replaying a word in my mind that I wish I hadn’t said. It wasn’t “stupid” in case you were going there, but it wasn’t much better. And just for the record, I said it with sarcasm, but I’m trying not to do that either.
So the next day, as we embarked upon this wonderful project again, I apologized to my son for my words from the night before. In fact, I’m telling him tomorrow morning as he finishes up “nuts” (Alabama is the third largest producer of peanuts and peanut products in the United States, by the way) and “Gulf of Mexico” (it has a subtropical climate and has more thunderstorms than any other state) that I would rather learn about Alabama with him than do anything else. As a result of this project, I am able to spend time with him and enjoy the qualities he has that make me proud. Have I mentioned that the guy has set his alarm for six a.m. most every morning to do one more page before school? Gotta love that.
And as I was driving home today, I had a thought. What if when we spoke, our voice was recorded for all to hear? Would we be fearful of what we said? Of who would hear? Or would we know that our words were healing and encouraging to all who heard? Whether we say them in front of someone or behind them, words can always hurt.
“Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
So as my son and I embark on our next project together, creating the state flag, I hope my words are kind and encouraging -- just like "Mae Jemison," (Alabama's famous female astronaut).