Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What If...love was retroactive?

Several years ago I ran across some articles by a man who had spent his childhood in an orphanage. Richard's stories were heartwrenching; full of abuse, neglect and torment. I wrote and told him how sorry I was for all that he had suffered growing up, and we exchanged email back and forth. Although he was about 70 years old he told me how long it took for him to learn how to love people, and how disasterous his first and second marriages were. He was happily married for a third time, but said that his wife didn't understand one ritual that he had kept through the years.

Every Christmas he would buy his young boy self a Christmas present. Through counseling Richard had had to travel back and heal the young boy who had been so hurt and abandoned, and a part of the healing he held on to was buying and wrapping a new toy every Christmas for six-year-old "Richie"; something he'd never had growing up. From our exchange of letters I came to know that one thing that Richard had so strongly wished for was a mother who loved and cherished him.

I told him that I wished I could go back in time and be his mother for him. I said how I wished that little Richie would have come through the door after school to a real home, and that I would be there waiting with a smile, a hug, and a warm plate of cookies, anxious to hear all about his day. I told him if I'd been his mother I would have read him stories at bedtime, sung lullabies, tucked him snugly under the blankets, and said a prayer with him. And then I would have kissed him good night and told him I loved him.

Richard wrote back and said that he knew I would have done those things, he knew that I would have been that kind of mother for him. I hope in some small way that I was another little piece of his journey to healing such a broken childhood. I think for a moment together we both rewrote the past and filled it with love.

7 comments:

Randee said...

Anne, I am deeply touched by Richard's story. It's really true: Love does, indee, cover a multitude of sins. What a blessing you must have been to Richard. What kindness you showed him. What a testament to the love of God. You are really something, my friend. Really something.

I am a better person for having known you, Anne.

Carolyn D. Townes, SFO said...

Anne, what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It is so wonderful to see how God uses his daughters to help heal this often broken, more than often, wounded, world. And you, Anne, are one of His loveliest of healers.

Anne said...

Oh Randee and Carolyn, I don't love nearly as well or as much as I wish I did. Honestly! But once in awhile God places someone in our paths who's so in need of love and we are blessed with the opportunity to provide a small touch of healing. Each of you is involved in ministries that do the same for so many. I am so blessed to know you both. And Randee, your Pink Collar Club has been a precious and priceless part of my journey in faith.

Lori Arriaga said...

Anne, thank you for sharing Richard's story, my heart goes out to him and you just amaze me how you respond and share the love of God with people as you do. I need to learn to respond as you do with the people who cross my path. You are a beautiful woman of God!

Anne said...

Lori, I believe I respond more lovingly in writing than I do in person. I'm praying that God changes that! You see, I wasn't brought up to be physically affectionate with people, and so I still find it awkward at times to reach out and hug someone. Thank you for such kind words, but God has quite a ways to go with transforming me still!

Shalene said...

It's just this easy Anne **hugs you** :) Ok, maybe not so easy as that, but it really is easy, and it feels good too. I grew up in a home that was not affectionately demonstrative, and hurt for it for many years. Now I do my best to hug or touch everyone I know in some way. Whether it's a hand on the shoulder or whatever. The human touch can work miracles my sister. Just bear that in mind the next time you want to hug someone. Blessings to you. (I don't mean that to sound condemning, just some advice.)

Randee said...

Are you all familiar with the 5 Love Languages? Of course, one of those "languages" is affection. Those whose primary love language is affection long for it as the affirmation of another's love. I know this from experience because it is the primary love language of my husband. But...it's not mine. As the matter of fact, it's probably on the bottom of the five for me. (The top? Acts of service...go figure.) Anyway, I have really had to "train" myself to show affection. To my husband and to others. The funny thing is that I have become a bit known for my hugs at church. It's become a customary greeting for me now.

Let's see...what are those Love Languages again?

Affection
Acts of Service
Verbal Affirmation
Gifts

What's the 5th? I can't remember. I'll have to get the book out and review!