I love stories!
Each week I pause to hear from you. This is the community portion of our 21-day adventure to believing big when we feel small.
In Psalm 66:16, it says, “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.”
Today I want you to share your story of God has done for you. When you do that, it encourages others. When we tell what God has done, it can be the tool that God uses to release someone else.
It might be a story from last week or ten years ago. I can’t wait to hear what you share.
I chose a story I wrote almost 20 years ago. It’s how faith helped me to see beneath a co-worker’s grumpy exterior (kind of like Jesus sees us, right?), to discover the really great person beneath. It’s how that grumpy man made a difference in my life.
That’s what Friends Do
(originally published in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul)
Jack* tossed the papers on my desk — his eyebrows knit into a straight line as he glared at me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He jabbed a finger at me. “Next time you want to change anything, ask me first,” he said, turning on his heels and leaving me stewing in anger.
How dare he treat me like that.
I had corrected one sentence with improper grammar — something I thought I was paid to do.
It’s not that I hadn’t been warned.
The other women, who had served in my place before me, called him names I couldn’t repeat.
As the weeks went by, I grew to dislike Jack. It was against everything I believed in — turn the other cheek and love your enemies, and all of that. But Jack quickly slapped a verbal insult on any cheek turned his way.
I prayed about it, but to be honest, I wanted to put him in his place, not love him.
One day, another of his episodes left me in tears. I stormed into his office, prepared to lose my job if needed, but not before I let the man know how I felt.
I opened the door and Jack glanced up.
“What?” he said abruptly.
Suddenly I knew what I had to do. After all, he deserved it.
I sat across from him.
“Jack, the way you’ve been treating me is wrong. I’ve never had anyone speak to me that way. As a professional, it’s wrong, and it’s wrong for me to allow it to continue,” I said.
I closed my eyes briefly. God help me, I prayed.
“I want to make you a promise. I will be a friend,” I said. “I will treat you as you deserve to be treated, with respect and kindness. You deserve that. Everybody does.”
I slipped out of the chair and closed the door behind me.
Your faith story might be an answer to prayer for someone else. Share it today. https://ctt.ec/THYW9+ #ComeWithMe #livefree
Jack avoided me the rest of the week. Proposals, specs, and letters appeared on my desk while I was at lunch, and the corrected versions were not seen again. I brought cookies to the office one day and left a batch on his desk.
Another day I left a note. “Hope your day is going great,” it read.
Over the next few weeks, Jack reappeared. He was reserved, but there were no other episodes. Co-workers cornered me in the break room.
“Guess you got to Jack,” they said. “You must have told him off good.”
I shook my head.
“Jack and I are becoming friends,” I said in faith.
I smiled at him in the hallway. I tried to remember to treat him the way I wanted.
After all, that’s what friends do.
One year after our “talk”, I discovered I had breast cancer.
I was 32, the mother of three beautiful young children, and scared. The cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes and the statistics were not great for long-term survival.
After surgery, I visited with friends and loved ones who tried to find the right words to say. No one knew what to say. Some said the wrong things. Others wept, and I ended up encouraging them.
I clung to hope.
All I desired was a word of encouragement.
The day a grumpy man changed my life forever. https://ctt.ec/0w1s0+ #ComeWithMe @suzanneeller
The last day of my hospital stay, the door darkened and Jack stood awkwardly on the threshold. I waved him in with a smile and he walked over to my bed and, without a word, placed a bundle beside me. Inside lay several bulbs.
“Tulips,” he said.
I smiled, not understanding.
He cleared his throat. “If you plant them when you get home, they’ll come up next spring.” He shuffled his feet. “I just wanted you to know that I think you’ll be there to see them when they come up.”
Tears clouded my eyes and I reached out my hand. “Thank you,” I whispered.
Jack grasped my hand and gruffly replied, “You’re welcome. You can’t see it now, but next spring you’ll see the colors I picked out for you.”
He turned and left without a word.
I watched those red and white striped tulips push through the soil every spring for over ten years.
They came up each Spring, as I watched my children grow out of elementary school, into middle school, through high school, and into college.
We moved and I started to take those precious bulbs with me, but I feared damaging them. Now, years later I pray they are still pushing through the ground every Spring and blessing whoever sees them.
They’ll never know the story behind them, but I do.
In a moment when I prayed for just the right word, a grumpy man with very few words said all the right things.
After all, that’s what friends do.
Day #13 of 21 Days to Believing Big When You Feel Small.
On Day #13, I want to hear your story. It can be what God is doing right now, or what he did last week. It might be something that took place twenty years ago.
There’s power in telling our story. Did you know that?
It’s part of believing big when we feel small. When we tell our story, there’s someone who will be encouraged. Tell it here, but ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to share it with someone else today.
An inspiring resource might be Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul: Stories to Inspire, Support and Heal (Chicken Soup for the Soul)
I wrote the story years ago, and I celebrated 25 years of survival this past September. I hope those tulips are still coming up!