I didn’t see this coming, but episode 121 that aired five weeks ago, “The Relational Energy of Fall,” had the most listener response of any podcast episode this year, and I think for any of the past episodes since the podcast began in late November of 2018.
Keep listening to hear what listeners responded to because I think you’ll be encouraged as you hear how sometimes God uses strangers to care for us.
The excerpt from episode 121 that started it all
I’ll have a link to the entire episode 121 in the show notes, but for now, here’s a brief excerpt from “Experience the Relational Energy of Fall.”
[ I’m sorry, there is no transcript for this part of the podcast. Please listen to the podcast.]
As you heard in the clip that just played, I felt helpless when I talked to Stacey. I wanted to do something besides listen. Yet, there was nothing I could do to make things better.
But then, weeks later, when the episode aired, I started getting responses from several listeners, which gave me an idea. Before I tell you the idea, here’s the feedback I received that prompted me to do something
- “John, I enjoyed today's podcast. I will be praying for “Stacy” I was touched by her story.” – Patty
- “Good morning John. I appreciated this week’s You Were Made for This podcast. . . And for your daughter’s high school friend, how difficult of a time she is going through. I’m sure you mentioning that story rallied many to be praying for her. It did me.” – Randy
- Another local podcast listener I ran into asked about Stacey, “How sad,” he said about her situation.
And finally, there was this response from a listener
“Having been walking around the past few weeks, sometimes on the verge of tears, I have felt very alone in my sadness.
“But the few times when a brave person has been bold enough to ask me how I am doing, and then taken the time to truly listen, has been a healing balm. And a rare gift.
”There are no words I need or even want to hear. I just sometimes need a safe place to let a few tears seep out every now and then to cleanse my emotional paLette.
“Thanks for the reminder that it is OK to feel awkward if it allows another human being the chance to be real.” ~ Imelda
NOTE: Imelda prayed for her, too!
- I was surprised and encouraged by people's reaction, at the compassion, and how they volunteered to pray for Stacey. Nobody asked them to do this!
- Their empathy for her and her difficult situation was palpable. They put themselves emotionally into her shoes. An abusive spouse. The prospect of not seeing her children. How will I pay the bills?
All three of these examples show me that somes God uses strangers to bless us and care for us.
What to do with this listener feedback
After hearing these responses to Stacey’s story, the idea that came to me was to go back to the office supply store where she worked to let her know people were praying for her. I thought that would encourage her, and hopefully lighten her load a bit.
It would be putting 2 Corinthians 13:11 into practice, where we are told, “encourage each other.”
So I stopped into the office supply store one day, but she wasn’t there. Before going the next time, I wrote a note and put it in an envelope with her name on it, thinking if she wasn’t in again, I’d ask one of her co-workers to give it to her when she came into work.
In the note, I said that I had a podcast and that I was so touched by the conversation we had several weeks ago that I used it as the subject of a podcast episode, changing her name, of course, to protect her privacy.
I told her about the podcast and how she could listen to it, and then I concluded with the following:
Much to my surprise, 4 different listeners have taken the time to tell me that they are praying for you. I have been doing the same most days since we last met. I hope this encourages you.
Sure enough, she was gone again the next time I stopped into the store. So I dropped off the note with a co-worker before I checked out with my office supplies.
The same day I dropped the note off for Stacey, she sent me an email later that night. It read:
When I got to work tonight, a co-worker told me, “A man came in with an envelope for you. He said you went to school with his daughter, and asked me to hand-deliver it to you. I put it in the office. I'm not sure what it is.”
“I was intrigued. What the heck? Who is this man? Who is the person I went to school with? So I went to the office and found the envelope with my name on it, and your return address label. I opened it up, and couldn't make it to the 2nd paragraph without crying. I was a mess. Finally, though I got through the whole thing and I was bawling! Then I showed it to my co-worker (who is not a Christian, by the way), and she thought it was really nice. She said, ‘You never know when people are thinking about you and that they care.’
“Now that I'm living with my parents again, I showed them the letter as soon as I got home. Again, I couldn't make it through the letter without crying. I was anxious to listen to the podcast! I just finished listening and I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the prayer that's going into my marriage . . . Most people would say I should've left him a long time ago. I had one friend end our friendship because she couldn't take listening to all the stories of abuse and how I still kept going back to him. Hearing your podcast was inspirational, so for that, I thank you.
“Thanks again for your letter, and for using me in your podcast. Just knowing strangers are praying for me is humbling.”
So what does all this mean for the rest of us?
Knowing that sometimes God uses strangers to care for people, we can do what Imelda talked about, namely
- Be a brave person, bold enough to ask someone how they are doing, and then take the time to truly listen.
- Don’t worry about the words to say. Be a safe place for someone to cleanse their emotional palette, as she puts it. And then feel awkward doing this.
Here’s the main point I hope you remember from today’s episode
There are times when God uses strangers to care for us, to let us know we are not alone during our darkest of days. Conversely, there is real joy in being one of those strangers God uses to bless someone with our prayers. It brings out the best in us.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john [at] caringforothers [dot] org. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, if you found this podcast helpful, please forward it to someone else.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. Maybe to pray for a stranger going through a tough time. When you do so, you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Even a relationship with a stranger. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
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