The Power of a Stranger’s Prayers

23 Dec

fc9362b98632056c567d6f85b5348d5dIn the weeks that followed my leaving my newspaper reporter job in 2009, I spent a lot of time at the movies.

Having practically grown up in neighborhood single screens in San Francisco, I always gravitated to red velvet chairs and dark theaters when life was a little overwhelming. I had left my job of a decade and I was toying with the idea of writing a book. As I often do, I tucked a notebook in my purse.

As a few other daytime movie fans chatted while waiting for the previews to commence, I grabbed my pen and pad and started to map out a book about surviving toxic moms. I had an idea of what stories from my life could serve as a foundation and I made a list of women I knew that I could interview on the topic.

At the other end of my row two grandmotherly women were chatting and laughing. One turned to me and asked if I was trying to get homework done before the show.

“Oh, no, I’m a writer and I’m thinking about a book I could write. I’m outlining it.”

“What would you write about?” a lady named Doris asked me.

“I know a lot about surviving toxic, terrible mothers. I think I’ll write a half memoir, half interviews with other resources, self-help kind of book,” I said.

Then they BOTH leaned towards me, and burst out laughing. One said she had the meanest mother ever – that SHE should write that book. The other said she would buy my book and would buy copies for some friends. I could see that they totally “got it.” They were the very first Toxic Mom Toolkit fans – before I even had a title, a blog or a Facebook page.

The lights dimmed and I tucked my notepad into my purse and enjoyed the movie. The theater filled up and I lost a line of sight to the encouraging senior ladies.

But as I was walking out after the movie, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Doris handing me a card with her name, address and phone number scribbled on the back.

“When you publish your book, please let me know so I can buy it. Good Luck!”

*  *  *

Two days ago, I received a huge box containing 50 copies of Toxic Mom Toolkit meant for family and friends. All of a sudden, I wanted to find Doris’ card from years ago. I kept it tucked into my computer case and often thought of her early encouragement. It was like her immediate buy-in opened a floodgate of encouragement at every step of the book writing effort.

I checked the address and realized that her home is about 10 minutes from my home, so I grabbed a warm scarf and my car keys and drove over.

Encouraging one encourages all.

Encouraging one encourages all.

When I rang the bell, the house erupted in small dog barkiness and I heard Doris shushing a pack of tiny terriers. I held the card up to the locked screen door with one hand and held my book and business card in the other hand.

“You gave me this card four years ago — in the movies. Do you remember?”

Did she remember?

“Oh, HONEY, you did it. Do you know that I’ve told that story about our meeting in the movies so many times and I’ve always prayed that you would get your book done. Look at that! Isn’t that amazing?” she said as she hugged me.

As I often do when overwhelmed by emotions, I fled at the first opportunity.

I drove away and no sooner had I turned the corner, she called me on my cell and asked me to come back and sign her book. While I was re-parking she went back in her house to get something for me.

“I volunteer at the school, so they include us in school pictures,” she explained as she handed me one of her photos as  a momento.

I thanked her again for encouraging me and told her that her prayer must be powerful. I suggested she keep praying for as many people as she can. We both got a little choked up.

* * *

“Wow, that felt good,” I said to myself as I drove back home.

Wow. That felt good.


6 Responses to “The Power of a Stranger’s Prayers”

  1. Claire December 23, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    That is a wonderful story, Rayne! Struggling through the teenage years with my kids, I sometimes wonder how they will see me when they grow up. Breaking the toxic cycle is hard and full of emotions. But I know I try hard, and thanks to you, I know I am not the only one out there with these struggles & emotions. Thanks again! And thanks for the encouragement you send out to all of us.

    • collectingjourneys December 23, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      I think if you’re thinking ahead in those terms that’s 90% of the work! I feel like we’ve been on this journey together. At Christmas, I am extra grateful for your support and contributions!

  2. Jenn December 23, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    What a beautiful story and a very lovely lady. Doris is your guardian angel. And yes, she has powerful prayers. You are blessed Rayne, as you are a blessing to those of us who have toxic mothers.

    • collectingjourneys December 24, 2013 at 4:21 am #

      Thank you Jenn!

  3. Elizabeth December 23, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    You’ve done a truly special and amazing thing creating the TMT community, and this is just one piece of proof that the universe is for you and not against. My book came yesterday, and I am so busy with happy plans that are good for me I won’t get to read it until after Christmas. Two Christmases ago I was still on the hamster-wheel of toxic holiday stress. Thank you, Rayne!

    • collectingjourneys December 23, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Oh, you reminded me of the Hamster Wheel! Oh, I have to put up some images. The Hamster Wheel of toxic mom stress. It’s the worst!
      Happy Holidays and thanks for posting!

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