Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Letter to the Editor - Lindquist

When I was twelve years old, I decided to do something to help the people in my town who didn’t seem to understand that God loved them and wanted to be their friend.

From the time I was three or four years old, God had been my best friend. At first, I assumed everyone had the same kind of relationship with him that I did. But as I got older, I realized there were differences, and I became puzzled. Had some people turned their backs on him on purpose? Did they know what they were missing? Even my own parents didn’t seem to understand that God wanted a relationship with them, and not just their attendance at a Sunday morning worship service.

At that time, we got three newspapers at our house: the daily Winnipeg Tribune, the bi-weekly Brandon Sun, and our local weekly, the Souris Plaindealer. I was familiar with the Letters to the Editor sections in each. After praying about it, I decided the easiest way for me to tell lots of people about God was to write a letter to the editor. I usually did okay in my essays for school, and the newspaper would reach more people than I could ever talk to on my own. I thought our local newspaper offered the best chance for me to get published. And while it was the smallest paper, there were two thousand people in our town, plus many more in the surrounding countryside.

I worked on the letter, rewriting it several times, trying to keep it from being too long (I had counted the number of words in other letters) and trying to keep it from sounding as though I was putting people down. When I thought it was ready, I copied it in my best handwriting: we didn’t own a typewriter.

But then it occurred to me that the letter might embarrass my parents. This was, after all, a very small town. Shaw’s Clothing, my dad's store, was three doors down from the Souris Plaindealer’s office. The bank of Montreal and a small café called the Snack Shop were in between. The owner and editor of the Plaindealer was a good friend of my dad’s. What if he called my dad and asked him about the letter? That would be terrible. Could I get the letter published without letting anyone know I wrote it? After all, I wasn’t writing it to get attention; I just wanted to tell people that God loved them.

I’d heard of authors using pseudonyms, so I decided to come up with one. I used my second name—Jane—which I thought was too plain. Ever since Jayne Mansfield had become popular, I’d been adding a “y.” For my last name, I decided to use my mother's maiden name. So I became Jayne MacDonald.

I don’t know why I didn’t just mail it. Stamps only cost eight cents in those days. But for some reason, I decided to drop it off myself. Of course, I had to get it into the newspaper office without being discovered. I put the letter in an envelope and addressed it to the editor, then took it to school with me. After school, I walked downtown as I frequently did. (In a town of 2000 people, that isn’t very far!) I went to our store, dropped off my books, and left again, keeping the letter out of sight.

I walked down to the newspaper office and hovered around the outside, peering through the window now and then, until I saw the woman at the reception desk go into the back room. As she left, I whipped inside, threw the letter on the counter, and dove out of the office. My heart was going 100 miles an hour as I did this. But as I walked back to our store, I relaxed. I had done my part. The letter was written and delivered. The rest was up to God.

For several days, I lived in dread that someone would say something to me. I expected the editor to tell my parents. Would they be angry with me for writing what I had? Would my letter be printed, or was it too heavy? A week passed and I heard nothing. Then the new Plaindealer arrived. I opened it and looked in the Letters to the Editor section. There was my letter.

For several more days, I was afraid someone might figure out I’d written the letter and say something to me. But no one did. And, in fact, as I grew up and life became busy, I forgot all about my letter…

In case you’re wondering what a 12-year-old might write, wonder no more. This is my letter, just as it was then.

Dear Sir:

Although I am not sure if you will use this letter, I sincerely hope you will, and that it will help some person to "see the light."

The "light" I refer to is God. I have been prompted to write this letter because I feel that there are millions of lost people who do not know that they have a friend, a Father, who cares for, and loves, them no matter who they are, what colour they are, or what they have done.

These people may be ignorant and lazy, or socially prominent. To him they are all alike. He loves them all. If only more people could realize this, our world would be a wonderful place in which to live.

Watching the Billy Graham crusade on television recently, I was thrilled to see hundreds of people streaming down onto a muddy field, in the rain, to acknowledge that they had at last found their Lord.

It was truly wonderful to know that their lives would now take on a new and glorious meaning.

I feel sorry for those empty people who do not know Christ. They have no one to confide in, no one to ask for forgiveness for their sins, no one to gather strength from. They do not know that there is a Lord who loves them so much that He sent His only Son to die so that they might live.

By saying that God forgives our sins, I do not mean that it is right to sin. Our Lord is deeply hurt when we yield to our temptations. But if we are truly sorry, He is glad to forgive us.

To me, God is a friend, a father, an advisor, and a rock on which I can lean in time of trouble. I deeply wish that more people could come to know God and to feel as safe and strong as I feel in his care.

Thank you.

Miss Jayne MacDonald
Now and then, people have asked me why I've focused so much of my energy writing books and teaching workshops to equip young people to serve God effectively. It’s because I remember myself at their age, and I know how much they understand and how much they want to serve God. I feel very sad when adults spend their energy entertaining kids instead of giving them the tools they need.

Next time I blog: The "rest" of the story...

N. J. Lindquist



Deborah said...

This is such a good story. Even though I heard a version of this when you gave the plenary addresses at Write! Canada last year, I don't think I'll ever tire of it.

Looking forward to the next chapter!

violet said...

This is fabulous! Your way with words goes back a long time.

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