Thursday, February 25, 2016



By Ada Brownell
Betty[1] and I hugged and giggled. It was so good to see my young friend, now at the high end of her teenage years and fast becoming a woman.
“How long can you stay?” I asked.
“Three days,” she said, kneeling down and greeting my toddler son.
I can’t remember now if her Dad drove to Utah to drop her off or if she rode the bus, but she was alone and seemed so thrilled to see me. Yet, a dark cloud appeared to be hanging over her because she wasn’t the person I’d known when we were neighbors in Colorado and attended the same church.
When we met, though, Betty had problems. Her mother had died not more than two weeks before from a long illness that required amputation of a leg. Betty showed me the prosthesis her mother wore.
I was only about five years older than Betty, but in a way I became her mother/mentor. I was married, and shortly after moving to town became youth group leader at our church. Her goal in life was to be a waitress who would take breaks on bar stools and smoke. I guess she thought that made a woman look “cool.”
I was thrilled when Betty accepted the Lord as her Savior and gave her life to Him. Because her father sometimes worked evenings and my husband was on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at the railroad, I took Betty to her school functions and attended the programs. We didn’t have a child then, and Betty and I had a great time sledding on the mountain and doing fun things together. My husband and I played tennis with her and her dad.
After Betty quit playing with our toddler that day, she sat down to visit. An angry scowl took over her formerly smiling face.
“Dad’s getting married,” she announced.
I wasn’t surprised. We had introduced him to the group of young Christian women from which he chose his second wife. The woman had never been married and I thought she was a great catch. Some might have classified her as an “Old Maid,” but although she was older than most brides, I knew she would make her dad an ideal wife.
The upcoming marriage was the source of the cloud hanging over my friend’s head.
Betty picked up a Christian magazine from the table beside her, glanced at it and then slammed it back on the table with a whack. “I hate her!” she said.
What could I say? She probably regarded me as a traitor for connecting her dad with the woman.  She might have been there when we said something like, “There is this really great group of single women in the big church up town.” We gave him a few names.
Now, newspaper reporter that I am, I didn’t give Betty a comment. I asked a question. “Why do you hate her?”
She stuttered a little and then answered. “Dad treats her so nice! He’s always giving her gifts and being such a gentleman. Things he never did for Mama.”
When I know someone needs a word of wisdom and I am sure I don’t have great answers myself, I utter a quick prayer. “God help me help her,” I prayed in my spirit and felt the Lord drop something in my mind.
“You know why he does that?” I asked.  “Because he wishes he did those things for your mother.”
Betty’s face slowly brightened. It was as if the shadow on her heart faded away.
I had no idea if what the Lord dropped into my heart helped her, but after the wedding I learned Betty and her stepmother developed a loving relationship. They became close friends and still are decades later, even after Betty’s father’s death.
I often think how what I say and do can affect my friends for better or worse. Solomon wrote, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
            How wonderful the Lord helps us say the right words when we ask.

[1] Not her real name