From David Carroll: This week I am honored to share a story by Carissa Webb, a teacher friend of mine, who writes about her extraordinary holiday experience:
Have you ever heard the term “Godwink?” The Hallmark Channel exposed me to this. I love a sappy, predictable Hallmark movie with a happy ending while I’m curled up under a blanket, occasionally wiping my eyes. Sometimes my soul needs that.
“Godwink” was made popular by author Squire Rushnell, who defined it as “a coincidence that’s not coincidence but an astonishing event from divine origin.”
I work in a high school library, and occasionally after the last bell has sounded, I walk the empty halls for exercise. Recently, I passed a teacher carrying a bag full of clothes. She asked if I had a particular size of men’s jeans in our Care Closet, where students can come when they need toiletries, school supplies, clothes, backpacks, or shoes. The bag she carried contained some of her husband’s clothes that he no longer wore. She told me that one of her students often wore dirty, stained clothes. Unfortunately, her husband’s clothes were not the right size for the student.
She had learned that the student was being raised solely by his disabled grandfather after his grandmother unexpectedly passed away last year. In addition to going to school, he was working on a farm. I told her, “Please get me his clothing sizes, and I will try to find what he needs.” I was already thinking of friends who could pitch in so this student would get new clothes for Christmas.
A few hours later I was at Walmart, standing in a slow-moving self-checkout line. I checked my phone messages. One said, “Do you know of a teenager in our community who has a Christmas list? I can’t do anything huge, but I can help one child. Maybe a child that a grandparent is raising?”
The message was sent at 3:46 pm, about fifteen minutes after my coworker and I had our conversation. It was sent to me at the exact moment that I was standing in the Care Closet, searching through bags of clothes for some jeans to fit this student. I read the message again, and the next thing I knew, I could no longer see my phone screen as tears filled my eyes. I stood there in a state of disbelief, absolutely awestruck at what had just unfolded before me.
I composed myself and wrote to my teacher friend: “You’re not going to believe this…” She replied, “God works in mysterious ways. I read an article that said most of the ‘Angel Trees’ in which people donate gifts are usually for small children. So the older kids are often overlooked. I spent a day or two praying about how to help a teenager.” She continued, “When my kids were that age, I realized that there are so many kids who don’t get much guidance or support. I have been blessed to have people who helped me when I was at my absolute lowest. I’m just trying to pay it forward.”
Later that night, I was talking to one of my dearest friends and asked him, “Do you know what a Godwink is?” He did not, so I happily told him about the otherworldly moment that I had experienced. He said, ‘I would also like to help this student. He deserves to have a good holiday.”
Once I acquired the young man’s sizes, I sent the information to two friends. They went on joyful shopping sprees. They filled up the back seat of my car and the floorboard. It was too much to hand over at school. I made arrangements to deliver them to his home over the Christmas break.
Life has a way of leaving us jaded and numb to the beauty and wonder that is ever present in the world around us. It’s been a rough few years. We have felt it to our core. It was such a blessing to witness the chain of events that can occur when just one person cares enough to help another.
I wondered if it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time. What if I hadn’t decided to stay after school and walk that day? What if my coworker had carried the bag of clothes at a different time? Would our conversation had even happened? I couldn’t have possibly set this into motion.
I soon realized that I desperately needed to experience that Godwink moment in this particular season of my life. Call it a wink, a nod, a nudge, or whatever you like, but someone knew I needed it.
From David: Thank you Carissa. Your words inspired me, and will surely bless thousands of readers as well.