In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, our course be onward still.
The words “movie night” at my house at this stage in my life mean that a quiet Sunday evening will be spent at home with my husband and two of my grandchildren while their parents are away at their church small group meeting. It typically happens twice a month. In addition to a great movie to watch and cozy blankets to snuggle under on cold winter nights, popcorn is an absolute requirement. My grandson James has his own sweet way of essentially insisting on it. A movie without popcorn is just plain (and simply wrong). It also can’t be from a store-bought bag. It must be made in the stovetop popper, drizzled with butter and sprinkled with salt. Oh yum!
I met a woman whose own “movie night” as a little girl started out joyfully – possibly with a bowl of popcorn in hand – and ended in sorrow.
On the second morning of the conference where Ruby made her big debut, a precious woman stepped up to my table and told me it was impressed upon her heart in the night to come and talk to me. These kind of comments captivate my heart and soul, because they always seem to lead to something beautiful: a God story.
She told me she had walked by my booth on the other side of the aisle a time or two during the previous day, but she'd stayed away ... because of the ruby shoes displayed on the pedestal. She’d been avoiding ruby slippers for much of her life. They took her back to a place in time where her life was overwhelmed by sorrow and pain.
The interruption came while she was watching The Wizard of Oz as a little girl, just as I used to do. An unexpected ring of the doorbell interrupted the film. The door opened to a member of the local law enforcement standing on the front steps, bringing news of a tragic accident that took the life of her older teenage brother, whom she loved and adored.
She never watched the movie again, and she avoided ruby shoes whenever she saw them. She told me the story with tears in her eyes; my own eyes filled hearing her recount it. She told me she wanted to put it behind her. The pain. The searing loss. Her willingness to share her story with me was one of those confessions that help us move “onward still” in the midst of our hurts. The hurts so deep that we just can't understand why God would allow them to happen – the deepest pains that can erase hope.
I haven’t had the opportunity to see the woman since then, but someday I will. We’ll meet each other in heaven, if not in this life. She left the conference with a package of beautiful cards with RUBY SHOES on them, and she committed to reach out and share the love of God with some of the women in her life. Some of them quite possibly have also suffered the loss of a precious loved one.
I trust that God has continued to heal her heart as she has persisted in walking out the journey of life and faith ... trusting Him to supply the victory as she surrenders everything to Him, day by day. Step by step.
This beautiful God-appointed encounter has reminded me to be watchful for stories about faith that overcomes. There were pieces of my own story that were still unhealed the day I shared this conversation with this precious saint. Hearing her story might have shed light on those places, starting my own new processes of healing. I’ll be forever grateful that she was brave and shared her story with me.
One of the sweetest stories in my life is about finding a pen pal, not as a young girl, but as a grown-up one. It was something that I’d longed for since I was little, but I didn't have the opportunity. The thing I thought I’d missed came to me much later than I’d hoped, and it ended up being even better than I’d ever dreamed it could be. In God’s perfect time, I found a pen pal, complete with a story to tell...
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.