My sister Shaun was celebrating her twelfth birthday and invited two friends over for a party. For some reason, I was allowed to join in, even though I was the annoying younger sister.
After the chocolate cake was eaten and the presents were opened, Shaun wanted to do something fun with her friends. She asked Mom if we could make funny phone calls? Mom usually said no, and we would do these calls when she wasn’t home since there was no call display back then.
To our surprise, she made an exception on this special day. The four of us sat cross-legged on the floor in a circle, with the big rotary phone in the middle. We started giggling at the thought of the fun we were going to have. We called random numbers and asked, “Is your refrigerator running?” When they said, “Yes” we would reply with “Well, you better go catch it.” Then we’d laugh hysterically and hang up.
We soon grew tired of this and came up with a brilliant idea. One of the girls mentioned a cute boy in my class named Glen. She thought we should call him. I immediately told her that was a bad idea. If he found out I was in on it, I would never live to hear the end of it. They convinced me if we disguised our voices he would never know it was us.
They dialled his number, and when he came on, one of the girls started teasing and flirting with him over the phone. Pretty soon the phone was passed around the circle as we all took a turn. When it was my turn, I forgot to disguise my voice, which was highly recognizable due to it being deep for a girl.
“Is this Cindy Seaton?” He asked.
My eyes widened, my breathing quickened and I began to panic. “No,” I said in my best-disguised voice.
“Cindy, this is you, I can tell by your voice.”
I threw down the phone and started wailing and sobbing. My life was over, I could never show my face at school again! One of the girls picked up the phone and told Glen if he said a single word about the phone call to anyone she was going to tell his secret to the whole class. I’m not sure if she knew any secret, but Glen believed her and promised to put a lid on it.
The rest of the weekend I was anxiety riddled as I thought of facing my class on Monday. When the beginning of the week arrived, I walked to school with my feet dragging. My life was over. When I entered the class, my face already red, my eyes fell on Glen. He looked at me for a second then looked away. He never spoke a word of the phone call…at least I never found out if he did.
Six years later, I was seventeen years old and had a massive crush on a young man named Vance. The only person who knew of my crush was my best friend, Kyna. I made her promise to tell no one. Vance was also her first cousin.
He was tall, dark and handsome and I hardly ever spoke to him. If he even came within a foot of me, which was hardly ever, my heart would race out of control. There were lots of girls for Vance to choose from since he was popular, athletic and good looking.
I knew I didn’t stand a chance.
The summer before we dated our church youth group went camping. We were all sitting around a campfire one evening and I mentioned I was going for a run on the beach in the morning did anyone want to join me. One of the young men said yes, then Vance immediately said he would too.
Not for a second did I think Vance liked me, I was clueless. The three of us went for a run and had fun as we chatted and jogged. When summer was over Vance went to Cornell University on a hockey scholarship.
I started dating another young man and we continued our relationship for another eight months. The following summer I went to Galilean Bible Camp as a counsellor for the first two weeks of July, and while I was there a lady named Bonnie heard of how I was dating a young man who didn’t share my faith in Jesus.
She decided to intervene and it would change my whole life:
I was walking by myself when the chapel doors swung open and I saw Aunt Bonnie, (we called all the adults Aunt or Uncle) standing there with her beautiful smile, “Cindy can I speak to you for a moment?”
I immediately thought I had done something wrong. She held the door open and I followed her as she led me to the piano at the front of the chapel. We sat down and she turned to me and smiled.
“Cindy, I heard you are dating a young man who doesn’t share your faith in God?” I hung my head. I knew she was right, the conviction had been sitting in my heart for months but I had been ignoring it. One of our family friends, Mr. Burhart had also lovingly spoken to me a few months before about the same thing and his words were still hanging in my thoughts.
“Yes, I am.”
“I have a song I want to play for you, Cindy.”
Bonnie sang me a beautiful ballad of a young woman who had done the same thing I had and how her life had ended in heartache and divorce. Tears were streaming down my face as she ended her beautiful ballad.
The room was silent.
Bonnie took my hands in hers and looked into my eyes and said, ” This isn’t the plan God has for you Cindy.”
She hugged me and I thanked her. I slipped out of the Chapel and went up to the main lodge and asked to use the phone. I called my boyfriend and cried as I told him I needed to end our relationship.
“I knew you were going to call.” He said to me with a heartbroken voice.
I felt terrible, I knew from the beginning I shouldn’t have dated him. In the end, it was my fault he was hurt.
We said goodbye and I hung up the phone and walked back to my cabin. A sadness filled me but at the same time. the heaviness that had been sitting on my chest for months was gone.
At the end of the summer, I was back at Bible camp as a camper. The last week of August was youth camp. Most of the kids from our youth group went to youth camp. Kyna and I were both there and once again I was standing in front of the chapel. I had just come down the hill and while I was up there I had seen Vance chopping wood and decided to sneak up behind him and startle him. I poked him in the ribs and yelled “Boo” from behind.
He swung around with the axe in his hand and it’s a wonder my head didn’t get chopped off. I loved scaring people. But I could see I went too far this time.
“Don’t do that!” He said exasperatedly.
“I’m sorry,” I said genuinely.
Then he just kind of stared at me. I felt awkward and said goodbye and left to walk down the hill, where I found Kyna standing in front of the chapel.
We started talking and I confessed to her that I had hoped to meet a young man while at camp. She told me she knew of one at camp that liked me. I asked her who? She said she had promised him she wouldn’t tell me.
I begged her to tell me but she refused. Then she looked over my shoulder, raised her eyebrows and said, “Speak of the devil.” I turned to look and saw Vance walking down the hill.
“Kyna that’s not funny!” How could she play a sick joke like that on me, she was my best friend.
“I’m not joking!”
I still didn’t believe her.
Finally, after a few minutes, she had me convinced and…
The rest of the story is in the book to the right, Beauty from Ashes. Vance and I went on to have a wild rollercoaster of a life. Sometimes I wanted to give up, it wasn’t a bowl of cherries.
But somewhere along the way, I fell in love with an imperfect man who loved God.
Ten years after I sat with Bonnie at the piano, God asked me to do the same thing for another young girl. I was the leader of a youth group and one of the girls in the group was dating a young man who was abusive. I would drive a van load of kids home after group.
On this particular night, I decided to drop her off last. When I pulled up into her driveway I put the vehicle in park. I turned to her and said, “This young man you are dating, is not part of God’s plan for your life.” We talked for a while and she thanked me as she closed the van door.
Last week I was out with my mother for lunch and as I dropped Mom off at her apartment she spoke of the young lady I had talked to nineteen years ago. She’s now married to a man she loves and they have a baby.
As I drove away I wondered if what I had said to her had caused her to break up with her abusive boyfriend…I may never know. If I hadn’t said anything, I may have lived to always regret my silence.
You too may know of a young girl who is headed down a path you know will cause her heartache one day and you’re afraid to speak up in case you offend her. But you may be the answer to her mother’s prayers.
My mother too had told me dating a young man who didn’t share my faith was going to lead to heartache…but she was my mother and I thought I knew more than her.
Mom went to her knees and prayed for me.
God heard my mother’s prayers and sent a couple of lifeboats my way to rescue me from drowning. I ignored the first two, but the third one finally got my attention and I grabbed onto the life preserver and they pulled me in.
If you see a young girl who’s been misguided, don’t just pass her by. Stop and offer her some love and tender words. You may be her 911. Help her to see there is a future better than the one she is headed for now.
Thank you, Mom, Mr. Burkhart and Bonnie for helping me to see there is a path that leads to love and sometimes we are just misguided and need a hand to bring us back to where we were supposed to be💗
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
Psalm 25: 4-7
Believing and hoping,