Yesterday, I was loaded down with my bag, some groceries, and two Amazon deliveries when I walked into the house, but I managed to grab the mail on my way in. After I got in, I threw it on the counter and noticed a handwritten postcard that was addressed to Matt. We get postcards from both families from time to time, but this one wasn't from family.
It was from Sheila. She wanted to let Matt know that, although she doesn't know him, she had been praying for him and his family for the last 30 days. She hoped that he could look back at the past month and see what good had come from her efforts.
Here are some of the things that happened:
- A burst pipe at the hose connection at the front of the house
- No trashcan, ergo, no trash collection for a month. Several trips to the dump and some phone calls, highly unpleasant
- $1400 of repairs to gutters
- Torrential rain, resulting in flooded cellar x 3 or 4
- Torrential rain resulting in roof leaking, coming in through ceiling of Allison's bathroom, requiring another visit from the repair team
- Refinishing the counter tops taking up much of the month (plus breathing in fumes, lots of takeout)
- Two colds (one for each of us)
- Matt traveling for work, stressful
- Challenges at work, stressful
- Nashville Predators losing a lot of games, stressful
- The political climate
These are all minor. We also had some friends experience a major and traumatic loss in their family. I don't want to go into detail, it's their story - not mine - but their child died unexpectedly. And we may only see these people once a year, but they are part of our lives, and it hit everyone in our circle as completely unfair and sad.
Now, granted - we had a roof over our head, and food in our stomachs. We had clothes to wear, cars full of gas that started up each day, meaningful work, love, entertainment, and all of the things that I would consider blessings. I woke up with a dog curled up at my legs each day, and I have reasonably good health, as does the rest of my family.
I don't take those things for granted. And while some of them are just factors of dumb luck, others are a result of perseverance, hard work, and emotional commitment.
I appreciate Sheila's prayers. I do. She thinks she is doing something charitable, necessary and right. And who is to say she isn't?
When I look back on the month, though - I see things that were wonderful, and things that were horrible. I have always been grateful for the good stuff and pragmatic about the bad stuff. Bad things happen, and you decide how you'll get through them. My bad things are relatively minor, and I consider myself lucky for that.
I thought through all of that while I cooked dinner, and I decided I wouldn't tell Matt my cynical musings about the negative things that had happened in the past month. When he got home, he read the card and said, "That's really nice." And he thought for a minute and said, "But this has been a really terrible month." And we both laughed, and I admitted I had come to the same conclusion.
So we agree - Sheila, we thank you for your prayers, but please - stop!
P.S. In case you're curious:
1. The front of the card featured people spelling out the word LOVE with sparklers:
|Like this, but a different word.|
2. The address is not that of a church, as I had suspected. It is the address of a UPS Store.
3. The postmark bears a Franklin/Leiper's Fork ZIP code.
4. Yes, I am quite curious about how she "found" Matt. It's a mystery.
5. No, I am not going to write her back. Probably.
6. Yes, her handwriting does sort of have that serial killer vibe.