Her voice was weak and fearful as she spoke to me over the phone. It was almost midnight and she kept apologizing...but she was so lonely and wanted someone to listen to her. I never got her name nor her address nor enough hints about her location to follow up our conversation. Her desperate story broke my heart. I actually wept after she said, “Goodbye—thanks for listening.”
My anonymous friend wasn’t wanted by her mother and dad when she was born. They placed her in a foster home and walked out of her life, leaving no clues of their whereabouts and no promise of their return. She went from home to home, longing for the day when they would come back and want her and love her and accept her. They never did. Years passed. She became a teenage rebel—she lashed out at the world and then at herself by attempting suicide. Misery stalked her steps as she waited in vain for the return of her parents. Their absence became unbearable.
Suddenly she decided she would go and find them. She did! Through an incredible chain of events and so-called coincidences, she walked back into their lives one evening...but soon discovered she still wasn’t wanted.
Her parents allowed her to stay for a while, but the relationship was forced and awkward. One morning they told her they had plans to start a new life. They were going to adopt a baby boy—and “start all over.” Deep within her heart she longed to be included in that new beginning...but she was hesitant to push herself on them.
Reluctantly, she squeezed out the words: “I don’t want to be in your way—perhaps it would be best if I were not around. Maybe I’d better leave.”
To which her dad replied, “OK, I’ll help you pack.” He hurriedly stuffed a few clothes into a backpack, rolled up a sleeping bag, attached it to the pack, then folded up a $10 bill and put it in her pocket. He then shook her hand, smiled, and waved goodbye.
Since that dark moment in her life, she’s lived in the hills, walked the streets, slept in alleys, eaten out of garbage cans, and hunted unsuccessfully for work. Wanting neither pity nor a handout, she hung up the phone because she was cold in that phone booth and needed to find shelter before the police picked her up. I shall never forget her voice.
Somewhere at that very moment in the vast, impersonal, dangerous megalopolis called L.A. there was a girl who was confused, totally disillusioned about life...and terribly in need of being wanted.
If hers was the only story, it would be tragic enough, but similar situations can be multiplied by the hundreds in California alone. Chances are very good, in fact, that there are those in your church fellowship who feel unwanted, forgotten, unloved (and unlovely!)—and are more lonely than words can express. I wish to speak on their behalf and in their defence. I’ll do that tomorrow. For now, look around. Prepare to open your eyes and your heart to that person on the other end of the line.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.