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The e-mail was titled simply: "A letter from Sharon". It began rather ominously.
Hi! I wrote the following letter last week and contemplated as to whether to send it to you or not. The desire to send it to you didn't go away, so here it is. Please don't be mad:Huh? What was this? I hadn't seen Sharon for nearly a quarter century before our surprise encounter last October, when a business trip took me back home. We'd once been very close, and it had been nice to see her again after so many years. She appeared well--healthy and happily married, with a little daughter who was the apple of her eye. Nervously I read on:
In the past couple of days, I have had a chance to read some of your articles on The Philippian Jailer site and in The Cypress Times. At first, when I received a few on my Facebook page, I thought that maybe you were just sharing articles that you found were of interest to you. I had no idea that YOU wrote the articles. That is fantastic! You have certainly found a niche to be able to share your views that, as I remember, were and apparently are, still so dear to you. I gotta admit though, when I first started to read the articles, they went over my head. It was likely that I had too many distractions around me when I was reading them. I finally got some quiet time yesterday and today and have, so far, enjoyed those I have been able to read.Hm. Not sure what there is to be "mad" about here, unless she suspects I am ill-disposed towards flattery. Aw go on ...
You probably don’t want to hear this but I have to let it out. I don’t have anyone else to talk to about this and I feel like I will explode otherwise if I don’t say anything.Oh. Okay. Bracing for impact ...
The articles you have written and published on the Internet sound similar to the letters you sent me while you were in basic training. Your articles now are just more refined; more mature, and your bible quotes are complete. I read names I have forgotten. You scolded me on the topics of abortion, astrology and mysticism. I have no idea where that came from because I’ve always believed that I was (and still am) against abortion and anyone who cites astrology in my Facebook and email accounts annoys me!Well. I do recall being especially strident in 1986 when talking about my new faith in Christ. I also recall that I could be something of a scold at times.
It made me sad to read about your step father and how he affected your life. It made me laugh when you admitted that you “talk too much” and that you didn’t have a problem with blood being drawn from you for tests but that you had fears of embarrassing yourself from fainting. But most importantly, in your letters, you really tried to show me how you felt about your love for God and how important it was for you that I walk in that same path. I think I remember now that that was the downfall of our relationship. I could not relate to religion on the same level that you were. It was uncomfortable.OK so in 1986 I was a faithful witness and an intolerable nag. I wonder which one communicated more clearly? I'm afraid I know the answer all too well.
I have gone through life wanting and needing more when it comes to my relationship with God. I get so choked up even as I write this because I know there is a need and I don’t know how to fill it. I have always believed that it was enough just to be born and raised in a religious home, but then I meet people like you who remind me that I must be more proactive in my quest for inner peace. I will admit it, that I am one of those you call “half-Christians”.Hello. Okay, I'm paying attention now. Let's summarize, shall we? Jailer was a young Christian, full of fire and impatience. Sharon was ... not. Jailer eventually got frustrated and went on his way. God gave Jailer and Sharon 24 years to grow up and think about it. And now ...
We had such a short meeting time, you and I, when you came to Santa Cruz. I never even got the chance to tell you how proud I am of you for what you have done with your life. I don’t know why our paths crossed again. I don’t know why I was here when you happened to come back. I just know that you have once again challenged me on an issue that I have struggled with ever since I can remember. I guess I’m writing you this letter to tell you that I appreciate you, and for what it’s worth, to thank you for allowing me back into your world by ways of reading your written messages. I feel very fortunate that I was once a part of your life and I suppose, whether I like it or not, you are “back” and I think, spiritually, I need that.This will be the first in a series, which as it unfolds I hope you will find as challenging, uplifting and encouraging as I did. I've decided to give it the title "Born Again", for some reasons you can probably guess, and for others which may surprise you.
So, keep writing and sharing your views. I’ll be here to listen.
Note: Also a quick thank you to Sharon, for agreeing to let me put this up. I've changed her name to protect her privacy.
Next: Born Again 2: Assurance and the Quest for Inner Peace