Words From A Stranger

The Front Of A Car With Music Notes Above It Clipart Image    As I left work today, I heard the radio host ask, “Has a stranger ever spoken words to you that have changed your life for the better?  Or have YOU been the one to speak those words to someone else?” 

Intrigued, I listened as he told a story of encouraging a young usher at a concert himself recently, describing how he was rewarded with the look of incredulous thanks from someone he’ll never see again.  He opened then by reading a couple of e-mails he’d received with this theme.

And then he came to a heart-stopping story I’d like to share with you here to the best of my recollection…

stock photo : A sad woman holding her headHer email explained how she’d been born with some sort of disease that required multiple surgeries on her feet and left one of her legs disfigured.  At one time the doctors told her parents she would never walk.  But determined to beat this prognosis, she became victorious – except for the limp and disfigurement that plagued her, making her continually battle feeling so… less than.  

“It’s so hard to think of yourself as a woman, much less a pretty woman, when you don’t come anywhere near the world’s standards,” she wrote.  She had a hard time finding anything remotely feminine that she could wear… rarely skirts, and NEVER shorts.   And no matter where she went, she constantly faced the intrusive barrage of inquisitive people asking “what happened” or telling her “hope you get the leg fixed soon!”  She understood they were well-meaning, but it seemed she always stood out as hopelessly odd.  A freak.  Somewhere around college age, she began to avoid public places at times when crowds would be there.  So when a friend suggested they go grocery shopping at midnight, her first thought was “Perfect!  No one will be there…”

On their way to the store, her friend – who was working on some interviews for a course – suddenly switched from friendly banter to interrogator-mode about her personal situation,  boldly asking how it felt to be “crippled.”  Years of a pent up dam burst within her.  She sat there frozen in the car, sobbing out to God.  “Lord, is this a JOKE?  I thought this was going to be a fun dash to the store and now… this.  Can’t I EVER get away from it?  Why did you make me this hideous way? Are you even listening to me???”

stock photo : Portrait of a sad woman

A little while later, standing alone at a checkout lane, she again became lost in self-thought, reflecting how at least no one could see anything wrong when she was standing still.  At that moment, a woman she didn’t know stepped out of a grocery aisle and approached her.  Looking warmly into her eyes, the woman put her arm around her like an old friend.

Pinkish Fun Heart“God wants you to know He thinks you are so beautiful…,” she said softly.  “He knows your heart.  And He’s heard your cry.  You will make a difference in this world…”  Stunned by these words that spoke so deeply to her thoughts – spoken by someone who had no reason to suspect her grief – she could only stand there, tears flowing.  As quickly as she’d come, the woman disappeared, leaving her dazed by the reality of what she’d just heard.

“Those words meant more to me than I can say,” she wrote now.  “Words that could only have come from the God of the Universe, showing me so specifically that He had heard my outburst… that He knew my pain… that He called ME lovely…  I wasn’t sure I’d believed in Him until just then.”  It was a transforming moment she would never forget.

Fast forward twenty years.  She was happily married and expecting her first baby.  Her limp had increased painfully with the pregnancy…but she’d expected that and made herself accepting of it.  Until one day well into the pregnancy and out to dinner with her husband, she broke down with the same feelings of immense inadequacy and self-loathing.   From across the room, she spotted a businessman coming towards their table, and quickly looked down at her plate until he was standing right beside her.

“I know you’re going to think I’m crazy,” this stranger faltered, stumbling nervously over his words, “but…I don’t know… I can’t stop thinking that He is wanting me to come tell you something… God, I mean…” He looked imploringly into her eyes.

“Well, that would be the second message I’ve received in 20 years,” she laughed wryly, “so, why not?  Go ahead…”

Pinkish Fun HeartOnce again, words came that were formed just for her, to the cry in her soul.  “God wants you to know that he has crowned you and you walk in beauty,” the man began.  “Things happen in this world that He will turn to good… you will see how you will be a blessing to many.”

As the man smiled, he turned to walk back to his business group waiting at another table.  Leaving her once again in an overflow of tears.

Now, concluding her email story, she added a message to us all.   “To close, I want to encourage your listeners today, to never hesitate to speak out His words of hope and beauty… even if those words are to a total stranger.  These two random words of kindness have shown me how much my God knows and cares for my heart…that He would send two people to me…so many years apart… to let me know He sees ME… and calls me beautiful. ”

As the radio host host read this e-mail with ultimate feeling in every line, I’d felt her tears behind my own eyes… for the words spoken to her by these two strangers reverberate in my own heart for many reasons.  As I suspect they did to most everyone listening.

For who of us hasn’t felt “less than” at one time or another?  Felt forgotten or unlovely… alone…a misfit?  So many Job-like events battering us around…  And today, God reaffirmed His message of love over me even as I listened to how He’d spoken it into a woman I’ll never meet…

And…Since I immediately  felt compelled to share this story here…tonight… I trust He wants to speak them to you too…

You are beautiful in His sight.

He has crowned you to walk in beauty.

Even now, another wondrous image that began my morning today is also coming into my mind.  A minister I was watching on TV was speaking of his visit to Muir Woods – a place I’m well familiar with, where humongous redwoods tower, hundreds of years old.  He showed a photo he’d taken of one of the massive trunks that had fallen across a stream.  Dead.  No life left in it.  Not even touching the water, but more like a bridge over the top of the water.  And the Holy Spirit had quickened to him that the tree was a picture of how God can bring new life out of what’s dead and lifeless.  For out of the top of this dead tree, new greenery was branching out… purely from the “scent of the water” below it.

I know there is a verse somewhere that says that, I thought, as he shared this wondrous truth… at the scent of water…    God is making us like a well-watered tree, planting us by His river of life…

“Let the Holy Spirit breathe the scent of His living water into you,” the minister enjoined…

“So that today… even this minute… He is moving to bring new greenery out of your life, your sorrows and griefs, your joys… as you give them to Him…”

And as He leads us, let us be ready to whisper it into someone else’s ear…

…He has crowned you to walk in beauty…

©  Pam Depoyan

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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9 Responses to Words From A Stranger

  1. Lolita Valle says:

    Oh, Pam.

    Thank you for sharing to us the email of this lady to the radio host….. and you hearing it. Sure we know the promises of God…. but it takes a lot more to grasp them, when we have a deep-rooted unbelief of ourselves.

    There is always the right moment, the right place and the right person as the medium, when the wisdom would sink in…… and those two moments for the lady, were God appointed…… God moments.

    I am beautiful……. I am crowned to walk in beauty……. How else can children of God be!

  2. Yes, Lolita… and how wondrous is our God to speak so specifically into her life, twice. Words that spoke to her like none other. It is so amazing to think about how intimately He is involved in our lives and wants us to know Him. And also, that those two people were willing to speak the word of hope to her… not always easy. Yes, God appointed moments for all. Even to my hearing it today and then sharing it here.

  3. Martha Herden says:

    Pam-
    This young woman is obviously strong of heart-and not worried if somebody sees the real “inner pain” that words can bring about.

    This has been one of the hardest things as these years of Pain go by-people look at me and all they see is a person who can walk, talk and smile-they are NOT living daily in my shoes-nor would I wish this Pain on Anybody-ever.

    What I have learned through to years is pretty simple-I grew up in the country-so my view of life is one of basic common sense-and the biggest part of me is that I speak from my Heart. Having been in Pain has NOT been easy, but it has humbled me, opened my eyes to the true Pain of others, and given me moments of “laughter” with My Dear Husband that probably only makes real sense to just the two of us.

    Chronic Pain does have a way of “making you tougher” not mean-just knowing your inner strength is growing as Pain sticks around. Yes-I have my days of being very TIRED-but God is there when those moments hit, I can feel HIM right beside me, and I push myself past that attitude and realize, I must be strong-and if my words can be of help to another person suffering-I give the Thanks to God for blessing me with that moment.

    Life is not easy-we just have to take it one day at a time. Blessings. Martha

  4. Yes, Martha… that saying about “walking a mile in another’s shoes” is so true. None of us knows the secret pain in anyone’s life. Something I have recognized in reading comments written on blogs these past few years is that so many are hurting. Even the blogger who often just encourages and never even hints at something in her own life (as I saw by a comment recently where the commenter was encouraging the blogger in something none of us knew about). Its so amazing how God can take a simple encouragement from a stranger’s blog and lift their heart for the things they are going thru in that moment that maybe no one else knows about…

    Yes, If there can be anything “good” in it all, it truly is that we become compassionate with fresh and poignant understanding born of experience. I think we know our own hearts and thoughts so intimately that it’s often too easy to imagine that there are others who are free of anything similar or hidden in their lives. But I’m thinking more and more… there is not one person I meet or ever will meet who doesn’t have some hidden grief or pain. Sometimes it may look obvious, but even then… there is so much that is NOT obvious even in that, hidden or shared only with a select few. It does give me pause to pray for everyone around me and to be more accepting of things others say or do … Even a headache can affect a person in ways we may not know…

    There are two beautiful things that struck me in this woman’s story though. That God sees her pain, yes…but He looks past it and the cry of HIS heart was to get his love to her. So, He spoke into two strangers (in the same way I imagined Him doing in talking into “Duke” and sending him to the wounded soldier) with more than just encouraging words. They were words of incredible LIFE… words that come right from His “Love letter” to us (The Bible), because they paraphrased so perfectly what the Word says. “You are beautiful… I crown you and make you to walk in beauty… ” Oh how the beauty of that touches me! He wanted those messages to help her turn her eyes upon Jesus in those words… and they did! 🙂 I have to wonder if the first woman who came up to her may not have even been an angel… but in any case, it was a gift of loveliness for her straight from the Holy Spirit.

    The next beautiful thing that moves me is that both of these strangers took a chance and stepped out on faith to speak life to her… not even imagining the depth of their messages. Since both of their words to her really do reflect THE WORD, they could be pretty sure that it was God-directed. That’s always the true test, as St. Paul tells us. Still, to walk up to someone like that takes courage. I pray to have that type of courage… at times, the Lord has put someone in my heart so strongly that I’ve prayed and sent them such encouragement in writing, and even though I’ve seen time and again how He really did lead and lift that person through my stepping out, I always have to fight the “what if they think I’m crazy,” thoughts etc. Inevitably, I worry afterwards that I may offend until I hear back from them. And each time, God has shown me so incredibly how He uses the simplest of our sharings when we are willing. I am always uplifted by realizing how it is such a gift…that God not only allows us but WANTS to bless us with making us like “his ambassadors” to others with words of uplifting, teaching or hope. Hearing this story of these two strangers encourages me to listen to the Holy Spirit for such encouragement and to step out as He leads.

    I have not experienced the depth of excruciating physical pain you are going thru, but I do understand what you mean about others not seeing it behind your smile etc. So much of life requires us to go on and just keep certain things between us and the Lord or a select few. Tragedies or pain that has shaped our lives is not something we may talk about or even want to. But it can seem like we are hiding behind a facade at times. This story brings home to me though how God knows intimately… and wants to show us that He does. I’m so glad you know the strength of Him with you…

    You mentioned in another comment how you would like to get more into the Word and I just want to encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to make His word speak directly to you about all the things on your heart, Martha. I’ve been trying to think if anyone has ever spoken something to me like in this woman’s story… and I can’t remember anything in that way. Often God uses music or something beautiful to speak to me. But God has made me see so much lately just how alive the Bible is by making it speak so specifically to me that it never ceases to amaze me each time it happens. And I believe that God really is aching to speak to us all that way… to make words leap off the page and into our hearts, his direct conversation to our needs.

    Here’s one example: The day I received some of the worst news of my life, I hung up the phone with an odd thought, like a movie line. “Well, I guess I’ve just heard bad news,” I sort of laughed. It was not a phrase I would usually think of. Then I went to pray and just opened up my Bible asking God to speak to me in this moment. The words my eyes fell on made my jaw drop. Psalm 112:7,8 – “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. …in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.” Those were the first of so many other words that God made leap off the page of the Bible to me in that situation because they were so like Him talking directly to ME… just like he did to this woman through the strangers. I’d seen that many times before in praying for others, reading words that spoke so directly to the prayer need, but this time the words were meant just for me. Not only did those first words give me peace and assurance, give me faith to believe, but also I did end up seeing Him bring the promised “triumph over my foes.”

    I could share more stories like that…but this is already so long. But I know God wants to speak His hope and light into your heart through His word too, Martha. And as I pray for you, here is one verse that is coming into my mind to uplift you today:

    “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. “
    – Isaiah 43:2 Amplified Bible (I like to look these up in various versions like The Message, or New international, or Living bible too, because there are often subtle word differences that speak even more deeply to me…)

    There is another image I love from Isaiah… of the Lord carrying us like a lamb on His shoulders… I know these past few days have been particularly difficult for you and I pray this picture fills your heart. I love how He whispers from the Word…”Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

    May He bless you and each of us in ways beyond our imagination – as it says In Ephesians 3:20. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Martha. There is nothing more beautiful…

  5. From Diane R… sent on email to me to add here:

    Pam, this is beautiful! “Crowned to walk in beauty.” …sigh…
    Thank You, my Father! Holy Spirit, please nudge me to pass these words on. Show me the exact woman who needs to hear these words….

    http://www.warmtheheart.blogspot.com

  6. lolitavalle says:

    I always love to come back for the others’ comments…. and it doesn’t fail, every time, to amaze me and to bless me more……

    Thanks to yours and Martha’s exchange, Pam.

    And yes, Diane, those very words, I have found in the “Deep Calls Unto the Deep” devotionals.

    Thank you, COF.

  7. lolitavalle says:

    Thanks, that every time, I come back for the words of the other COF, I would always find gems and more blessings.

    Thank you for your exchange with Martha, Pam.

    And to Diane-

    I have found those words at “Deep Calls Unto the Deep” devotionals. So blessed!

  8. lolitavalle says:

    Sorry, Pam.

    Those two appears to be the same….. I thought the first one did not publish… but it did.

  9. That’s perfectly fine, Lolita! It looks like you changed your photo and possibly some other info, so WordPress accepted your comments like they were from a brand new person that I had to approve (and it didn’t appear until I approved them this morning). From now on, it should keep accepting them as usual. But I didn’t want to erase one of them in case it messes up the comment acceptance. Diane has had so many problems and can’t get it to work, and i didn’t want to do anything that might cause a problem with yours. Thanks for your lovely comment as always 🙂 I’m glad you come back and check… not sure if everyone always does.

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