Sometimes encouragement happens in the most unlikely places . . . when we’re least expecting it. A few months ago, I was in a tough season. As I got into my car that morning, I was anticipating another stressful day in a long string of stressful days: my dad’s recent, incapacitating stroke had really thrown me; it was painful to see my brilliant, loving father unable to really communicate, walk, or do much for himself. At the same time as we were working to move my parents closer to us so we could care for them better, we were getting my daughter ready to go to college, and I was also working hard to fulfill my research obligations. Oh yes, and there was a book published in there too!
But right in the middle of that, I had an experience where God used a crazy, “chance” encounter to remind me that He was still there in the midst of it.
On this particular day, I was looking at an apartment complex near our home as a potential place for my parents to live. I had scheduled an appointment to meet the leasing agent and take a tour. Little did I know (goose-bump alert!) how this encounter would impact my spirit and my outlook.
Here’s what happened…
An Unexpected Connection Between Two Strangers
I arrived at my appointment for the tour, and the leasing agent—a young, twenty-something woman—started showing me around. She was very sweet and attentive. As we talked she asked what I did for a living and I told her I was a speaker and a writer. She said “Oh, you’re a writer! What do you write?”
I told her I write books and she said “Gosh, books—I haven’t ever read any books. I mean, I read a couple in high school when I had to, but my friends have all told me that I have to read more. I’ve just never really been a reader.”
I literally stopped walking, stunned, in the middle of the parking lot. She kept walking, then turned around and said “What?”
I could hardly talk. “Those are my books. I wrote those.”
She said “What?!? I can’t believe it!” As we recovered from our amazement, she told me about the impact those books had had on her life.
Understanding and Living Out Relationships Better
She had been telling me about her relationship during our tour. She had a daughter who was in kindergarten and she was no longer with the father. They had never been married, and now she was engaged to another man who she really cared for.
When I told her the books she had read were my books, she said somebody at the church she attended had recommended that she read them. She said, “I suddenly saw all these reasons that my first relationship had failed due to how I was treating my boyfriend. It has now completely changed my relationship with my fiancé. I really think we’re going to make it, and my daughter is going to have a man in the home who loves her like a father. It’s totally because I had no idea of these things and now I do.”
She had learned and applied the basic but powerful relationship principles that we’ve uncovered in our research and shared in our book, blogs, and speaking engagements.
God’s Message of Encouragement
As you can probably imagine, this unexpected encounter was an incredible blessing to me. To cross paths with this sweet young woman whose only two books she’s ever read as an adult were my books—it was absolutely amazing! And it was so encouraging for me at a time when I so badly needed it. It was like God was saying to me: Look, everything that you’re doing and that your team is doing is making a difference. Don’t worry, I’m still here, I’m still in this.
We sometimes think, “Wow, what a coincidence.”
But I don’t believe there is any such thing. God is at work in every moment, situation, and circumstance of our lives. We just have to see those “God-incidences” when they happen, and see that they are God speaking to us. Now, that one was hard to miss! It was the equivalent of a SHOUT. (I guess God knew I needed it!) But let’s be encouraged to have our eyes much more open, and our ears trained to hear the ways that He is speaking to us and moving in our lives, all along.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Peace: A 40-day Devotional Journey For Moms, focuses on discovering biblical direction to become a woman of serenity and delight in all seasons – and have impact for generations to come.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.