Living With Meaning: Piercing the Bubble

May 14, 2011

by Maria Fontaine

In my last post I talked about how powerful our words of encouragement can be to people, and how we usually have to speak them by faith, believing that our “words fitly spoken” will have the desired result.

Often we don’t get any feedback from the individual, and most of the time we will not know the full effect that our words have had on someone in this life. Sometimes, though, the Lord allows us to see the results of our prayers, concern, and compassionate words and actions for our encouragement.

I have heard several stories of people who were just about to commit suicide. They’d come to the very end of their will to live and were in such deep depression that they felt there was no way out. Then God sent someone along to say something to them that was just the thing they needed to lift them out of the despair and turn them around and give them hope again.

This is such an amazing thing to me—that a person’s words, when God’s Spirit is guiding them, can be powerful enough to do such a miracle in someone’s life. It didn’t cost the giver that much. He or she was just doing something that they thought was pretty small, but unbeknownst to them, that small thing was so needed by the one they interacted with. That’s the power of words when infused with God’s love and care!

It might seem unrealistic to the human mind that a few words of encouragement could make such a drastic difference in someone’s life, unless you take into account what a person may have been going through and how starved they might be for recognition or appreciation or hope or meaning in life.

Here is one such example, from a young woman named Marcie Dixon, which clearly shows the power of someone’s heartfelt words and the far-reaching results they had.

She wrote:

I was going through a very tumultuous time, listening to a lot of heavy metal music, which seemed to express the anger, frustration, sadness and turmoil that I felt inside. One day I went into a diner to be alone in my darkness and despair.

Hopelessness and depression were overwhelming me. I had been asking myself what was the point of my life and my future and had come up with a big fat zero. Dark and negative thoughts and feelings had been swirling around me like a whirlpool of thick, black darkness, threatening to suck me into its vortex. I wondered what would happen if I just let myself fall into it, if I gave in to it, if I just let it take me away. I had been toying with the idea of taking my life.

I wondered if God—if there was one—would care enough to stop me. What would He think—if He existed—if I took my life? I knew one thing: I would be free of the relentless pain and torment that was going on in my heart and mind.

When the waitress came, I ordered a coffee while doodling on the back cover of one of my school notebooks where I had drawn a mosaic of sorts—faces, symbols, objects, expressions; most of them dark, lonely, melancholy, and fearful. They came from within, from the feelings in my heart, as well as the expressions of the music I listened to. In the midst of all of the art confusion I had drawn a small flower, hardly noticeable amid everything else.

The waitress returned with my coffee and set it down in front of me, giving me a warm smile that seemed to reach out and embrace me through the fog of depression that had engulfed my soul. It was like a small ray of warm sunshine on an otherwise overcast day. But I had grown so used to hiding what I felt deep inside that my reflex action was to shift my view down to my notebook. I felt embarrassed and a bit surprised that someone was focused on me. The waitress glanced down at my scribbling and said, “I see you are an artist.”

As I took a sip of coffee, she paused for a brief moment, her eyes skimming across the doodles. Then pointing to the tiny flower, she exclaimed, “Oh, there you are! Such beauty can't be hidden even amidst all this!” She smiled again as I looked up at her. And then she was quickly off to wait on another table. I marveled that she had noticed that tiny flower so quickly. To me it seemed nearly buried in the midst of the mass of confusion of images. I looked at the little flower. Was that really me?

Finishing my coffee, I gathered my things to leave. I was digging into my bag for some money for the bill when the waitress returned, placing a beautiful long-stemmed rose on the table in front of me. I was shocked! But before I could react, the waitress quipped, “Remember, you are that rose to someone.” She then reached down, touched my hand and said, “The coffee is on me,” and disappeared to take care of another table.

As I walked out onto the street, the sky didn’t look so gray and gloomy anymore. It felt crisp and fresh. What just happened in there? I wondered. A total stranger, who knew nothing about me or what I was thinking, had pierced my bubble of darkness with warmth and kindness and hope. Was that God? Was He there after all, and did He care about me? All I knew was that I felt different and the heaviness I had felt in my heart was gone.

Maybe there is a God after all. Maybe He does care and have a purpose for my life. I couldn’t say for sure, but that day I decided to find out if He did have a purpose for me. A tiny seed of hope grew from that experience and became a turning point. Eventually I found Jesus and His love and hope and comfort. That waitress’s encouragement to me started me on my journey which led me to Jesus and His eternal love.

There are so many all around us who feel about as small and overwhelmed by life as that tiny flower. When the darkness is so great, even a little light can do miracles! A little word can be a lifeline that leads to hope for a lifetime.

Photo L-R: David and Mike. Photography by Tina Miles