|Heavenly Light - |
Always available, no matter what hour!
A recent email from Leah, a good friend, who is going through a rough time, has reminded me just how important a part of my life following promptings is. It also reminded me how important the angels who work in the US Postal service are. You see, the letter I sent Leah should have gotten to her several days before it actually did. A letter I mailed the same day, that was going 500 miles further away made it to its destination four days earlier. I had asked Leah several times if she had gotten my letter, and I was afraid it had been lost in the mail, or maybe I hadn't put enough postage on it. Instead, the post office was simple taking directions from a higher power, delivering it right on spiritual time.
With Leah's permission, I am sharing a little of her story, and then her email to me after she received my letter. I will also share the story of another letter, delivered right on time, and the power it had to change some one's life. I shared the story earlier this year, but I know I have a lot of new readers, and it is still a story that I get asked to share, fairly often, in other forums or in a talk or presentation someone is giving.
So, this is the story of two letters, a little over ten years apart, that our Heavenly Parents prompted me to write, and made sure that they were delivered exactly in Their time.
Leah is a MtoF transgender woman, who has been married, as a man for most of her adult life. She has l since she was 4 years-old, and often dressed as a girl when she was a child. At various times in her young life, others also realized that Leah was transgender, and he/she was abused by several men throughout her childhood. She lived her life as a teenager and then as a married man, being sealed in the temple, having three daughters, and eventually a fairly dysfunctional marriage. Marriages are hard in the best of times, and if one member is hiding who he/she really is, it doesn't help in making a close and loving marriage. Having lived through the ending of a marriage that died slowly, I can feel both for Leah, and her wife.
December 31st, 2012, Leah came out to her wife and daughters, and intends to start transitioning to being a woman full-time. This is not an easy decision for her, (there are huge ramifications in the Mormon church for choosing this path) but it is the only one she feels she can make. It is very important to her to be living a life without guile. So, with that background, here is the response from the card that arrived when our Heavenly Parents knew that it was "supposed to arrive."
(There are a few edits to protect privacy.)
I think it took so long to get here because the post office never stamped it with a date cancellation. It is pristine, which probably confused all the handlers...ha!
On a random day sometime in 2005, I had a prompting to send a card to a woman whose name was in the ward list, but who I hadn’t met. I was calling the Webelos parents to make sure all the boys had hiking boots, when her name and address caught my attention and I had the “you need to send this person a card” prompting. I did the last phone call, pulled out the box of cards, and chose one that seemed “right.” I then said a prayer to know what to write, and started writing. When I was done I addressed the envelope, put a couple of stickers on the envelope, and put it in the mail the next day. I didn’t think about it after it was in the mail box.
Over two years later I was having a tough month. It was about 13 months before I finally left my first husband, and we had been having screaming fights more than once a week. At the end of one of the fights my ex-husband yelled at me for having bought stamps that day. He said, “I have no idea why you send cards to anyone. No one ever sends one back, and they probably throw them away as soon as they see your name on it. Quit fooling yourself that the Holy Ghost has anything to do with it. If I can’t stand you then certainly Heavenly Father can’t.”
Every night as I was falling asleep, saying my prayers, I would hear the words of that fight echo in my head. I started asking Heavenly Mother and Father if I was deluded, or if I was useful. For almost two weeks I didn’t really have an answer, and I didn’t follow any of the “card promptings.” At RS the Sunday after I started crying myself to sleep, they encouraged everyone to come to the baptism of a former member who was being re-baptised. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but not enough that I could place it. I was desperate to feel the Spirit more, so I got the kids ready and took them with me to the baptism.
We got to the baptism, and I got the kids settled down towards the back of the room. I thought that since the name was familiar, when I saw Nancy* that I would immediately recognize her and realize where I knew her from. Instead, I only was able to pick her out as the woman being baptized because she was wearing the white jump suit. It was a nice program, and the Spirit was wonderful. I was glad that I had made the effort to get the kids dressed in church clothes again.
After the baptism was done, the twins wanted to go play with a friend for a few hours, and then my son found a friend who had puppies at his home, and his mom was okay with him staying until I picked up the girls. It was the first Sunday of Spring Break, so playing with church friends until 9:00 pm seemed reasonable. Just as they were all getting ready to leave, my son's friend hollered, "Sister P******, what time is the picnic on Wednesday?"
The kids were getting all of their jackets sorted out when Nancy approached me. She said, "You are Julia P*******, right? I think you sent me a card." I told her that I didn't think so, but I had really enjoyed her baptism. My son said, "Probably it was mom, she writes lots of cards, even when my dad yells at her!" Thanks son. Nothing like kids for honesty.
Nancy went and picked up her purse and drew out an envelope. The kids recognized flower stickers that I still had at home, and it was my handwriting on the inscription. She was about to say more, but her brother was getting ready to leave and she went over to give him a hug. She handed me the envelope and card, before giving hugs to a few other people. I looked at the card, and recognized it as one from a set of six I had made. I was still confused because I made them a long time ago, and had used the last one over a year before.
I looked at the envelope and realized that I had sent it thirty two months ago. Why had she kept the card so long? Nancy was still talking to other people, so I opened the card and started to read. I was flabbergasted. I had shared A LOT of personal details about my life, the sexual abuse and rape, my teenage suicidal attempt, and even my struggle with understanding the Atonement. I was barely talking to my husband and mom about those issues, outside of therapy, in 2005. I really couldn't imagine why I had written this many personal details, in a card to someone I didn't know.
I was glad that the kids had already taken off. It gave me a few minutes to digest. Why had I shared those struggles with Nancy? Why did Nancy still have the card? Why was it in her purse? I didn't have many answers, but I was breathing and able to smile by the time Nancy came to sit next to me.
She came back and gave me a big hug, and thanked me for coming. She was absolutely beaming as she then told me the story of the card, why it was in her purse, and how it had impacted every layer of her life. By ten minutes in, we were both in tears.
In August of 2005, Nancy had decided that she was done with life. Everything, in the last two years, had built layer on layer of heartache, and by then, she had decided that she wanted out. She had planned carefully. Her parakeets were in a new home, the dog was visiting her brother and his partner, and Nancy was sure they would keep him. She had taken three weeks of vacation and bought all of the supplies that she needed to end her life. She stopped by the bank and pulled almost all of her money out of her savings account. Her last stop on that Friday night was to pick up her mail.
She had dinner started when she sorted her mail. When she saw the envelope with the hand written address and stickers, it was out of place, swimming in among the bills and junk mail. She didn't recognize my name, and she wasn't sure that she wanted to open it and be disappointed because it was just a card from the insurance company or someone asking for money. She decided to wait until after dinner to decide what to do.
Nancy had made the decision to end her life about two months before she started getting the supplies ready to do it. Through that time she did pray, figuring that she should let Him know what she was planning on doing. She wasn't positive that He was there, but her parents had believed. Talking to Him at least helped her become clear in her own mind, about why and how she was going to commit suicide.
After she had showered and changed into pajamas, she checked all of the supplies that she was planning on using the next day, and then sat down on the couch with the card. She turned it over and over, and then got up the courage to slice through the card with her letter opener. Nancy read the card, tears running down her face. She never did make it to bed that night. The rest of the night she cried, read the card again, found her scriptures to look up the scripture reference on the back of the card. Then she cried again as she drifted off to sleep on the sofa.
That card became her lifeline. It was in her purse when she showed up to her first counseling appointment the next Monday. It was in her hand when she talked to the suicide crisis line on Saturday that set up Monday's appointment. It was in her quad when she went to the last 15 minutes of Relief Society that Sunday.
Nancy kept the card with her through the funeral of her parents, her brother's failed adoption of a son from Romania, and her best friend's battle with cancer. She wondered about me, and who I was, but it seemed like an unsolvable mystery. By the time she thought to go to the address on the envelope, we had already moved. She checked an old stake directory, but didn't see us in that either.
About fourteen months before we finally met at her baptism, she had decided that she wanted and needed to repent of some past sins. She was ready do whatever she needed to do, so that she could go to the temple. After submitting to the decision of the disciplinary council, Nancy had worked through issues, with help of her bishop, and had started to attend church regularly. She was singing in the church choir, and was helping transport the young women from a family who needed help. About six weeks before she was re-baptised, there was a ward boundary realignment.
For the last four or five months, Nancy had been praying to be able to find me, because she wanted to invite me to come to her baptism. Several family issues, besides the fighting, had come up over the last few months, so I had only been to church twice since the realignment. I was still getting used to the new ward. (We were one of about twenty families that had been moved from one ward to the other.) So, I was praying for guidance and Nancy was praying for me to be there, and we both got what we were asking for.
Nancy kept saying, "How did you know?" She had thought about me for over two years, and to be honest, as soon as the card was in the mail, I didn't think about it. I send out a couple hundred cards or letters a year, and well over half of them are to people I don't know well. Some are to thank someone for sharing their testimony or giving a talk, or to someone who I am assigned to as a visiting teacher, who doesn't want in person or phone contact. Almost half of my outgoing mail are"prompting cards." There are so many of them, and I never expect to get a response. I do occasionally, but it is not more than 1 in 50, and often times the responses are not very immediate.
Nancy is not the first person who I have run into years after mailing a card who recognizes my name, and I am left scrambling to try and remember why I had sent them a card. I usually have to confess that I had a prompting to send it, but that really the card was from Christ, not from me. I didn't know them well enough to know that they needed proof that someone cared.
In Nancy's case, and for a lot of the "prompting cards" that I send, I am not sure that I was even the one writing the message that the words convey. I didn't remember anything about what I had written, or that I had shared so many intimate details of my own life, until I read the card, as I sat next to Nancy that night. Still, the scripture reference on the back of the card, spoke to me just as loudly as it had to Nancy several years before. she had the answer as to whether or not the Lord cared for her, whether there was anyone else who understood the trials in her life, and whether she was worthy of being loved. Thirty two months later I had my answer, about whether the Lord thought I was worthy to serve Him and if the promptings I received were from Him or just a delusion of my own making.
|Will you wear the wings of an angel, so that you can act in the name of Heavenly Parents and our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ?|
So, what scripture brought both of us the comfort we needed when we were at low points in our lives? What explained the love that our Heavenly Parents and Savior has for us, and allowed us to make important and life changing decisions about of our lives?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
*Nancy is not the real name of the sister who received the letter, and a few details about her baptism's timing have been changed to protect Nancy's identity, since I am no longer in contact her.