Today’s post is by Kimberly Borin
I’d like to share a story with you from my life that speaks about how God uses us and gives us a unique mission, no matter what we have to give. This story has had a life of its own and has been published in books, told in sermons, and shared with students.
The story speaks of how our mere presence can enhance and heal the world through even the tiniest of moments. Sometimes our gift to the world is just a matter of showing up. Sometimes, our gift to the world is our story and knowing that it can offer hope to others.
In 1992, with 14 friends, I rode my bicycle from Seattle to Atlantic City for the American Lung Association. One day in Idaho, I decided to ride alone. My friends and the van that usually followed us were far in front of me.
I was enjoying the day and the ride, when without warning my bike broke down. A closer inspection determined that the tiniest and most essential screw that holds the derailleur together was gone. Without it to help me shift through the gears I could not ride my bike.
I looked around for help and all I could see was a small town on a distant hill – a very long hill that I had just ridden down! So, I began walking, uphill with my broken bike –angry, scared and confused. I was only in Idaho, and I had still thousands of miles to go – this was not good!
I made it to the town and then to a car repair shop, explained that I was a cyclist from New Jersey, riding my bike across the country and that I needed a small screw for the derailleur. Then the mechanic interrupted, “New Jersey? Wait until I tell Fred that you are here. You have to meet him, he will be so glad to know that you are here!
I felt really uneasy and worried and wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. Here I was alone in the middle of Idaho, no cell phone, no money, a broken bicycle and my friends very far away from me. And this man was talking about some man named “Fred.”
The mechanic decided that the best place to find a screw this tiny was the sewing machine shop. We walked there and I explained my story to the owner, while the mechanic went to tell Fred – whoever he was — that I had arrived. Some 20 or 30 boxes of sewing machine screws later we found one that fit. As the owner walked me back to the automotive shop, she told me that when you are a stranger in a small town with less than 1,000 people word of a new arrival travels fast. Sure enough, as we left the shop, three people walked by. One shouted, “Oh! You must be Kimberly! Fred will be so glad to see you!”
It crossed my mind that perhaps I had entered some science-fiction world, some sort of twilight zone experience where I would be spending the rest of my life – never to see my friends again.
Back at the repair shop we put the sewing machine part into the derailleur and my bicycle worked! I used the shop phone to call my friends and waited for them to pick me up. Moments later, a van pulled up and a frail, elderly man carrying two brown bags of vegetables got out. He walked into the shop and looked at me with wide eyes and a smile and said, “You must be Kimberly!”
As Fred walked towards me, I could see a strange sadness on his face. He offered me the bags of vegetables that he had just picked from his garden and then in a shaking voice with his eyes welling up he said, “I am so glad to see you. I can’t believe that you are actually here.”
Fred asked me where I was from in New Jersey. We were surprised to find out that we were from the same area near Flemington. Oddly enough, Fred had also been good friends with some of my high school teachers, including my driver’s ed teacher and my running coach. Fred then began to tell me his story. He told me that he had left New Jersey about 12 years ago because something very bad had happened and he could not bring himself to return.
All of those years he had been praying for forgiveness. He continued with tears streaming down his face and said, “I prayed that if someone had come to this small town in the middle of Idaho, who was from my home town in New Jersey it would be a miracle and a sign from God that I had been forgiven.”
I was stunned and so was he. We stood for what seemed like an eternity, speechless, then gave each other a big hug. The idea of what had happened was so humbling, unbelievable and truly a miracle.
This story still holds tremendous power for me – it is nourishing, affirming and reminds me that I have a gift to bring. I know that God has a greater purpose for all of us and is using us and our stories everyday in ways that we will never know.
Make no mistake, your story matters. Your story has already offered smiles, a gift of forgiveness and a moment of caring in mysterious ways that helped to heal the world. You and your journey are an inspiration – you can bet on it.
So, today, grant yourself permission to tell your story. Tell your story even if it seems small or insignificant or commonplace. By telling your story you allow yourself and others to be affirmed. You validate who you are and who you are becoming. As you tell your story – you will see how you have been guided to know without a shadow of a doubt that God is using you and that you are a gift to the world.
Dr. Kimberly Borin is a School Counselor, Retreat Leader, and in training to be a Spiritual Director in Nurturing the Call: the Spiritual Guidance Program of the Shalem Institute. She believes that we can find peace and grace in simple ways, each moment. She has been a teacher and counselor since 1989 and holds a doctorate in Education, a master degree in Educational Leadership and one in School Counseling. She is an Ananda Yoga Teacher for adults and children and the author of the Laughter Salad series of books. You can learn more about Kimberly at: www.TheEncouragingWorks.com.