Dear Stranger (though I do remember your first name),
Our paths crossed many years ago, but I haven’t forgotten you. We met on a Gynaecology ward as nurse and patient. You were one of many being admitted to the ward that day in lieu of a surgical procedure to come, and your demeanour was wrought with anxiety and nerves.
As we chatted together, it soon became clear that you had deep concerns besides the imminent operation. Before long, issues from your past poured out in a torrent like unstopping a dam.
My colleagues were already aware that I needed to give you more time than usual, so I sat quietly holding your hand and heart as you gushed forth painful memories.
And I found myself nodding my head in recognition, my own heart pierced through, stabs of pain and shame making themselves known again to the conscious mind.
You wanted to let it out and I felt privileged to be the recipient, the holder of horrors, and a burden-bearer to ease your own.
These issues cannot stay hidden. They leave a stain, a shadow cast long and wide over lives that buckle under the weight of them once awareness creeps in.
Your fears and tears mingled together. Time passed…we stayed locked in the past and forever in this moment. Silent recognition. Sisters in sympathy. Joined in time and in experience. Altered by awareness.
I was your designated nurse. We became friends for the duration of your stay. There were moments of shared laughter and understanding, your whole frame visibly relaxing as the days went by.
Soon it was time for you to return home. Yet this departure also marked a beginning. A journey through emotional turmoil and pain that would (hopefully) bring you release, relief, wholeness and healing in time to come.
I still have the beautiful card you sent me. Your letter of appreciation to a stranger become temporary friend.
It expressed gratitude for the way I had cared for you. I was deeply touched. More than you’ll ever know.
For in the unleashing of your painful past, you helped unstop mine. This was the second reminder since I’d been nursing. The second encounter that brought me face to face with my own dysfunctional childhood.
Childhood sexual abuse is something we desperately try to forget, hoping to move on and live without the memories. But they come…eventually…and they need addressing before they consume us.
More time would pass, more stuffing it back into the closet, more swallowing down, more denial, more resistance, and many years before I fully faced my own demons and overcame them.
Though it was only after much wrangling, heartache, struggle, and years of counselling that I achieved emotional healing by the grace of God.
My stranger-friend, I want to thank you for the part you played in raising awareness in me that I had to deal with this too.
I believe it was a God-ordained appointment that day. We were meant to meet and connect briefly at a deep level. It probably left both of us changed and transformed. I know I was.
My sister in suffering, I truly hope and pray that you too have been set free to live your life fully as God intends us to.
“Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance, and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs” ~ Isaiah 61:7
I’m honoured to be linking here today with the lovely Ruth Povey, and her new series:’Letter to’. This week’s prompt is:‘Letter to a stranger’. You are warmly invited to come on over and join us and read the great posts already there. The link is open all week.
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Isn't it amazing how inter-linked we are, all we strangers together, brothers and sisters who don't know each other but meet and connect and rub along together for a season – God sees a big picture where we see randomness and chance. He choreographs as we stumble through life and He links us up with strangers who can help, teach, challenge, comfort…This prompt has been a God-given thing, I think. We've all reached inside ourselves and the pouring out has been breathtaking.Lovely post, Joy, as always; you have a distinct voice that haunts and inspires and you always bring something new.Thank you for this. x
I love the way you've described this, Helen. It reminds me of the weaving analogy where we see tangled knots and God sees the beautiful image He is weaving out of all our varied experiences. Your own take on this subject was truly beautiful. God is definitely drawing things out of deep places. As you express so well, "We've all reached inside ourselves and the pouring out has been breathtaking". Sometimes, all it takes is a one word prompt to release it. Thank you for your lovely, insightful comment. Xx
My heart slows to a long sigh. The Lord covers so beautifully our painful exposure until he knows we are safe to lift the veil that hides us. Then he gently draws us to the healing that will for a time devastate us and seep painful tears. But the healing is true, and we can finally emerge into the life we've so longed for. This, wow, what a powerful letter. My own journey includes healing from these treacherous wounds. Every day is one more step into wholeness. I'm not sure I'll ever be totally healed, but I will thrive. And that is an amazing thing to know for sure. Thank you for sharing this experience. I'm in awe of God all over again!
Karin, thank you for sharing your own story and thoughts here. I fully agree that the drawing out is gentle and yet the healing "will for a time devastate us and leak painful tears" as we face up to the pain from our past. Healing is definitely an ongoing process and scars will remain to haunt us. My own heart echoes your positive statement, "but I will thrive". Yes, my friend, we will learn to survive and thrive, wounded and broken but held together by God's grace. I'm in awe of that every day! Blessings 🙂 x
There are many that share this kind of unwanted burden I still wonder why children suffer all over this world of ours. May these words help someone else Joy. Thank you
Thank you, Kath. This world holds such inexplicable pain at times that we can barely comprehend it. But to be able to share, help another person to say, "You too?" and aid them on their journey toward wholeness and healing is my greatest desire.
Thank for this Joy, such a powerful post. And it struck a chord – loud! I love these moments, in nursing and in life when our own pain suddenly becomes somehow useful. And I love that when we comfort others, it starts a sort of healing for us too. Thank you for your honest and beautiful words, this is a subject that has been very much on my mind today and it was healing to read your post. Thank you for linking up too! So glad to have you join us x
Yes, Ruth, those moments when "we comfort others, it starts a sort of healing for us too" are so precious. Honoured and humbled to have been used to aid your journey, my friend. Thank you for sharing and encouraging me too!xx
I find it amazing how people we never really get to know can have such a big impact on our lives. In the same way that they will probably never know how they led you to a place where your healing could begin, I'm sure you will never fully know the imprint you left on this stranger's heart. Thank you for sharing Joy x
Hi Jess. Thank you so much for stopping by to leave such a lovely, thoughtful comment. We rarely know the impact we have on another's life. To be used for a greater purpose than the immediate, to participate in helping to bring healing to someone else, all are part of God's great redemptive plan for mankind. And we are very privileged to each play our part in the unfolding of His plans and purposes, often without knowing it at all.
This was a touching post, Joy. We really aren't an island unto ourselves, are we? Sometimes, sharing is just for the time at hand, enough to connect us on a different level. I think I will join up.
Thank you very much, Shelley, for your perceptive comment. Do hope you will be able to participate in the link up. We'd love to have you join us! Blessings xx
Thank you for your post Joy. I don't have the words I want to say in reply, but know it touched me and I thank God for you.
I really appreciate you taking the time and trouble to let me know this spoke to you, Anita. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Blessings xx
Thank you so much for sharing this touching and powerful post. Isn't it amazing how a stranger can reach deep inside your heart without ever knowing the impact they have made! I completely agree with Ruth's comment about using our pain to help others heal…it's a wonderful thing!
Hi Sabrina. A very warm welcome to you! I'm delighted to be able to participate in this new link up which you and Ruth have started. Yes, it is amazing the impact we can have on one another's lives. Viewing them as God-ordained appointments makes these occasions even more special.Thank you so much for sharing in the comments here.