Thursday, April 29, 2010
The trinket man
A man in the church I attended as a "tween" always carried trinkets in his pockets which he handed out to kids in the congregation. They were usually just cheap plastic toys, you know the kind, piñata fillers you buy in bulk. Sometimes they were a bit nicer like a fake gold necklace from the dollar store. I loved watching the kids faces light up as he passed out his treasures, his face beaming as much as theirs. Sometimes he even handed out trinkets to the grown ups. They seemed to love it too. He was the jolly church "grandpa" if you will.
One day I noticed that I hadn't seen him in a while. Others noticed too. I remember overhearing a conversation about him, how he had become "sad", and how he wouldn't answer his phone or open the door to anyone. I decided to write him a letter. I don't remember the words in my letter. I only remember mentioning that I missed him and I liked his little gifts. Upon finding out that my Dad and another man were going to visit him, I handed my father my letter and asked him to please give it to the trinket man.
When my dad returned home he said the trinket man wouldn't open the door but that he had slid my letter under the front door before he left. Trinket man did not return to the church. I grew up, fell in love, got married, had a baby, went on the mission field, and never gave anymore thought to the jolly man who handed out treats at the church.
Nearly a decade later, while at a speaking engagement at one of our supporting churches, I heard my name called out as I was passing through the hallway on my way to get a double expresso at the cafe. I spun around and found myself face-to-face with the trinket man. It took me a moment to remember where I had seen this person before. I don't think I fully knew who he was until he took a piece of paper out of his Bible and showed it to me. He teared up as he showed me the very letter I had written so many years ago, and said, "I was going to commit suicide that day. This letter saved my life." True story.
Who needs a letter from you? A bit of encouragement that costs nothing more than a moment of your time? I had no idea the impact my words would have on that precious man. We never really know how much a little love can affect a hurting person. Forget about your computer for a moment. Get out a pen and paper (real paper doesn't get easily deleted from an inbox) and write someone a letter. Who knows? You may just save somebody's life.
If you send someone a letter as a result of this post, PLEASE let me know. Sign in anonymously if you wish. Also, I'd love to hear about letter stories you may have. Thanks all. I appreciate you. Glad you read today's post!