It all started with a crimson Poinsettia. There it sat in the grocery store for $6.99. I thought the elderly lady on our street would like it. I have known her for over a decade. We had shared gardening stories. Even though she is in her eighties now, she still gets excited when spring comes and she parades her flowers on her backyard deck. When the frost comes, she waves her goodbyes to the annuals as they pass by. It made sense that she could use something bright in her life during the winter months. My wife agreed. But I had no idea what would unfold when I rang her doorbell. Her main front door was open, but her glass storm door was locked, but it did not hide the view of her shimmering Christmas tree.
She came to the door. As she opened it, I gently handed her the bright red Poinsettia. Besides her big welcome of a grin she invited me in. We stood in her foyer as she held on tightly to her newfound plant. She asked, “What have you been up to?” I responded, “I have been working on two manuscripts to send to a writer’s conference I am attending next year.” She looked interested and asked, “What are they about?” I said, “One is a memoir, and it has been difficult, yet therapeutic to write.” Before I could get any more words out, she interrupted and pointed her finger straight at me and said, “Whatever you do, tell your story!”
She turned and looked at her living room, and then quickly turned back and looked at me, and said, “Come on in and have a seat.” I obliged. Her husband was out of town with their grandchildren. Her television was on, but the sound was muted. I sat down. She said, “You know, I am an alcoholic and I have been sober for over 20 years.” She looked away at the wall. I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or awkward, so I quickly pipped in, “That is wonderful!” She went on to say how Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helped her and that she still keeps in touch with the folks she got to know there many years ago. She continued, “My marriage was also shot, but I didn’t give up. I got some help.” I smiled and thanked her for having the courage to tell her story. We agreed that if everyone would tell their story, many people would be helped.
In fact, Ann Voskamp says, “We need your raw story or we lose any hope of the redemptive Story.” I had no idea that my small gesture of giving a seasonal Poinsettia would be the bridge to encourage that woman to open up and share her raw story. But it did. The bright red blood which Jesus shed which ran down that old rugged cross is the only redemptive hope for any of us, no matter where we have been. Share. His. Story.
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”