In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.















Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Price of Reaching Out

About 4 years ago, a young woman with 2 little girls, came into my life. She was practically a girl herself, yet she was a mother and I took care of her little girls while she attended classes, at the school in which I work at. Although she was a pretty girl, she did not take good care of her appearance and she dressed in a way that did not leave much to the imagination. She revealed to me that she made a living by being a stripper, so that she could take care of her daughters during the day and still make enough money to live.

She came to me wounded and needy from her life’s journey which became more evident each time she opened up to me about these path’s she had walked…these paths, that were similar in many aspects, to one’s I had walked so many years ago. Her daughters came to me hungry as well. She came hungry to learn and to finish her schooling but it was easy for her to become discouraged because learning came hard for her. Her hunger to be loved and for acceptance was so great that it stood in her way much of the time. Her greatest desire was to be a good mother and break the chains of her history repeating itself in her daughters.


While the teachers worked with her on the learning, I worked on building her up and getting her to see her worth and potential. I believe God has given me the gift of being able to see the good in people…the ability to see through the outside to what is on the inside…I read between the lines, hear what is not being said, so to speak. Sometimes, this gift has been a curse but most of the time, it has been a blessing.


I began with teaching her that in order to be a good loving mother, she had to start with herself, because you can’t give away what you don’t have. I started with loving her right where she was at and she was like a sponge that soaked up every drop. Her eyes started opening up to the good that was inside of her and life in general. In the year that she came to me, I watched her blossom as a woman and a mother, even though there were moments of taking three steps forward, four steps back…eventually she started taking more steps forward than backwards. She was starting to “get it”. As she learned how to forgive herself and other’s that had deeply wounded her, she began to have hopes and dreams for a better future. She began to believe in something more. Up to this point she prided herself in being a stripper but now she wanted to stop…she began to believe that she could be something more.


She came to believe that no one had a right to hit or kick her(even if they’re your parents or you‘re married to them)…that no one had a right to call her derogatory names or demean her…that guys don’t deserve sex just because they say she is pretty or are nice to her…that drugs were not the answer to the pain inside her heart…ever so slowly, she started saying “NO” to all of these things.


As she began to love herself, she started taking care of her hygiene and dressing in clothes that were not only clean but less revealing and provocative. She looked like a different person and in a sense she was. I already thought she was pretty when she first came to me, now she was beautiful. If your thinking this brought much attention from the opposite sex, you are correct. Trying to teach her how to handle such attention was not easy. Beauty combined with a self esteem that is still in the process of improving can be a difficult combination.


I worked with this young woman and cared for her children for a little over a year. She came every day and just like that, she stopped coming…with only a couple of months left until graduation. I called her, went to her house, and sent her letters…found out that her ex-husband had moved back in. This abusive man convinced her to take him back, that coming to school was just a waste of money and that she would never make as good of money as she does being a stripper. I begged her to come back. I begged her to let me continue helping her. She rejected all of it...my love, my help, my belief in her.

Eventually, her phone was disconnected and they moved. I was able to get a new address from her mother, a PO box, so although I couldn’t go find her, I would still write her letters. I continued writing to her weekly even though I never got a response back. I wrote her weekly until the letters started coming back. This broke my heart because it felt like he(her ex-husband) and evil had won. She lost her fight. I lost. Most everyone had told me to give up a long time ago, that I was wasting my time…eventually, I had to just let it go…let her go. That was 2 ½ years ago.


This past week, she called me. She wanted to know if I remembered her. Of course I never forgot about her or her daughters and my heart stopped as I recognized her voice. She went on to thank me for all that I had done for her and her daughters while she had attended school…and then she thanked me for all the cards and letters I had sent…that she has kept them all and still reads them…and that she wanted me to know that those letters and cards helped her through some really hard times…that my words had saved her life. She wanted me to know that I hadn’t wasted my time on her. I was speechless. Then, I realized that she was crying. I reassured her that I hadn’t forgotten her and that I still loved and cared about her. She is coming to see me this week!


The point of this post, is not to say that I am this great person for reaching out to this girl. My point is this…we all come into contact with various people in our lives and we don’t always realize to what affect we have on others. We meet people, and it’s easy to determine their worth or value based on their appearance. It’s easy to judge people in our lives when their shortcomings, failures or sins are exposed to us. Our words have the ability to either build up or tear down.

When we send a simple card or letter, most of the time, we never know the affects it has on the receiver. When we make that phone call in the busyness of our day, just to say hello, we may not realize the gift that this is to the person we are calling. When we smile at the person passing us on the street or the cashier at the grocery store, most of the time, we don’t have a clue to the value of that smile to the person looking at it. The price tag on reaching out and touching others can sometimes be costly...sometimes we don't see the end result...sometimes it might seem like it was a waste of our time.

I had no clue that I touched this young woman in the manner that I did. I had no idea that my words were even read, let alone meant something to her. To many people around me, I was wasting my time. To her, my words were food for her still hungry soul… that still needed to know that someone in this world thought she mattered.


Never underestimate the affect you have on the people you come in contact with…you never know when they are going to show back up in your life!

29 comments:

Midlife Mama said...

Wow what a wonderful story. Good for you. And it is so true -- sometimes you just don't know how even something as simple as a smile can make a difference in someone's life. What a great Sunday post! :)

The Incredible Woody said...

Wow! I am so glad that I have gotten to know you. You are an amazing woman!

Beth said...

what an amazing story....wow. you just never know what a kind word will do for someone. You are truly a fabulous woman!!!!

Jason, as himself said...

I need to keep this kind of thing more at the forefront of my mind. How many chances to help people do I pass up every day?

Sandi said...

That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so wonderful and a true testiment of what determination can lead to: Results.
you are a very inspiring person. I learn something new everytime you put your thoughts into words.
Thanks, I will remember this too and try to pass on some good!!!

Heinous said...

I'd say you are a great person for taking the time time to make a person's life that much better and give them that much more hope.

I hope the meeting goes well and that she is doing wonderfully.

gina said...

I'm a friend of Sandi's -

I am so glad there are people like you in the world. What a gift you are to that woman - I love your words and encouragement for us all to reach out to others. There are have been lovely people that have saved me - from myself, at times, and I will always be grateful. I hope to make a difference like that someday with someone in need.

morethananelectrician said...

Your indeed correct. There are so many people I have come across in my past that I how they are now.

Obviously this is good for her to be doing things better now, but also good that you get to see the fruits of your labor.

Super Nova said...

This is an amazing story. I am so honored to know you, I think you have a special way about you, a sincerity that can't be faked. I see it in you and I KNOW you do so much good. I just love you. I think i may have to meet you in person this year.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thank you for sharing this heart-warming story with us. It is so true that we can never know what another is going thru at any moment. It's hard to know how what we say or do to them will affect them. There have been times when a loved one will tell me of something I said to them that was long-forgotten on my part and yet meant a life-lesson to them. It's so important to let others know just how much they matter. You have a real gift for this, my friend. Thank you, for showing us in such a beautiful way how we all can make a difference to each other.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

This is so touching. Thank you for sharing. When I think back on my life I realize how much of an impact so many people have had .... It's amazing really. How wonderful you were able to impact this woman.

thistle said...

Beautiful post again...with many lessons to be learned. You must tell us more about this after you have seen her...how lovely that she is seeking you out. The lost art of letter writing...sometimes i think it deserves a revival for all the good it can do.

Braja said...

Far out.

SciFi Dad said...

That is such an inspiring story. You are a remarkable woman, that is for sure.

Riahli said...

You are so very, very right...sometimes we just never know what kind of effect we are having on someone elses life.

I wonder what has happened in this young ladies world, and what brought her back to you. My hope is that it was a four steps back, five steps forward situation.

nothingfancy1 said...

What an incredible story. God Bless You.

Queenofphrump said...

We are our brother's keeper. There is a certain responsibility we hold to everyone we meet because there is no such thing as a chance meeting. You are wonderful. I am lucky that we have met. I know how much my life has been blessed just by knowing you. So does this girl and now you know your efforts were not wasted.

Tricia said...

Lori, this is beautiful. I can't wait to read about your reunion.

Krystal said...

you are truly an inspiration and I am so glad that you are able to see how your love and thought could mean so much to a person needing it so badly.

God bless you for all that you do!

Stepping Thru said...

To this day I remember one particular lady who believed in me when no one else did. She was there for me through some of the toughest times of my life and she loved me in spite of some of the decisions I made. I miss her and wish I could have told her how much she meant to me. Keep doing what you do best... loving those who feel unloveable.

Jan said...

I read about this earlier today when I was at work and wanted to comment but I couldn't - as your blog says, my life interrupted.

Thank you for reminding me that what we do, the kindness we give, the goodness we share, never goes unappreciated. I've had a rough few days; they've given me reason to doubt that the things I've done over the last few years have made any difference at all, made me wonder if I hadn't just been played for a fool all along.

Thank you for giving me some hope that it's not been all for nothing.

Laura said...

Could a moral of the story also be that when you do good, even if it's a smile, it is not for you to decide how or when it will be received, but for the receiver to take it when it is needed.

What a joy for that woman to have in her heart the knowledge that someone cares about her heart.

Midlife Slices said...

What a wonderful person you are. This is a great message for all of us and I DO try to make a difference in others lives even when I can't see any progress, but I should do it more. Thank you.

Life with Kaishon said...

I got chills. Such a beautiful story. I know that God can do BIG things with her. She has a lovely testimony. I can't wait to hear how your reunion goes. I am SO thankful for this. You kept on loving despite rejection. What a wonderful thing!

Swampy on the Road said...

Talk about a Random Act of Kindness !
Can't wait to hear about your reunion with her.

Your "pay it forward" will come back many times to you, I'm sure.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

You have the most amazing stories.

BTW I've got an award for you over at my place.

Heather said...

That is a wonderful story. You really are a special person and I hope you have a lovely reunion with this young lady.

pamajama said...

One of the most thoughtful things I've ever read. I'm always searching for things of worth in the blogosphere and rarely find them. (Although I did accidentally find some hideous porn this week!) Some of what you describe, being able to see the good in people, I identify with. I just don't take it the next step & do the things you do. Wow. I really am in awe. I don't say that lightly.