Writing is a curious undertaking. Whether a hobby, a coping mechanism or a career, a writer is often dealing with his or her own demons or issues while writing. Somewhere in the analysis of an issue or topic, a writer will come face to face with a personal bias, limitation or fear. Somewhere in the research for a piece or the writing of a piece a writer may be reminded of something he or she would rather forget.
This writer, AnOldSinner, came face to face with his past just a few days ago. A post by a blogger known as Kenny T in the blog Morning Story and Dilbert (MS&D) caught AnOldSinner’s attention. The item, entitled “The Big Wheel,” was the personal story of a young single mother in 1960. It told of her struggles to get on her feet and to provide Christmas for her children that year. Also, it told how she was helped by some human “angels.”
AnOldSinner loves to read these feel good pieces as much as anyone. He even tears up at times, which is difficult to admit. In his other writing persona, he is OneOldCop, and cops don’t like to cry. At least, they don’t like to admit it. However, neither side of this writer appreciates those added little zingers that usually accompany a sweet story such as “The Big Wheel.”
Big Wheel is the kind of story one might receive in an email. Inevitably, this sort of email ends with something like, “If you don’t forward this story to everyone you know and a few you don’t, you are not the Christian you claim to be!” Okay, that may be a bit of hyperbole. The messages are not usually that crass. Still, it often seems clear the sender designed the email to make one feel guilty if one does not forward the story.
Upon reading Big Wheel, the OneOldCop side of this writer immediately took hold. An internet search ensued, with the purpose of seeing where this story might have originated. Also, the idea was to see if the story had any possibility of being true. AnOldSinner might be sentimental, but OneOldCop is a confirmed skeptic. He is not interested in forwarding stories or emails that are total fabrications. Can you guess what happened?
The first search using the term the big wheel turned up a host of ads for the newly reintroduced toy by that name. A slightly refined search for the big wheel Indiana developed a number of interesting hits. One was a fact checking site that listed the story as “unproven,” and a number of sites were essentially reposts or variation of “The Big Wheel.” One link was different. It took AnOldSinner back to a time in his life when he was more than a little lost.
The link was to a comment thread which opened with a comment that this writer might have made 20 years ago. The person commenting wanted to know if anyone else thought the woman was receiving stolen property as gifts. Comments went mostly downhill from there, with one person writing a profane parody of the “The Big Wheel.” Having been in that frame of mind for many years, this writer could almost feel the fear, anger, distrust and disdain of those posting in that thread.
Who are these weaklings who feel they must depend on God? What right do these people have to send this sort of pablum out to other people? Who are they to tell me I am not a good person if I don’t feel like sending this thing on? Why do these people think only Christians do good deeds? Other threads were found with similar though less virulent comments, but all brought back memories and feelings from AnOldSinner’s past.
This little journey to touch the past was not an accident. This writer needed to revisit some of those feelings from the past. The doubt, fear, anger and disrespect voiced by the individuals in that comment thread do not go away. They simply lay waiting for the right time to come out and challenge one’s faith. AnOldSinner needed this reminder, and he was reminded through a series of what some people would call coincidences.
Kenny T found sinnerswalk.com and liked the piece entitled “Unsworn Testimony.” In response to Kenny T’s liking the piece, AnOldSinner took the time to check out Morning Story and Dilbert, something which is seldom the case. OneOldCop took over at that point and a mini-investigation followed. The result of the investigation was a slap in the face that this writer needed. Cynicism was creeping back into AnOldSinner’s life and that is one precursor to doubt.
The phrase God works in mysterious ways is not really in the Bible. Still, He does work in ways we do not understand. God has guided this writer’s entire life, subtly and mysteriously. It took many years and many mistakes to realize God was in control, and all the mistakes and troubles were preparing AnOldSinner for the next phase of life.
This latest very minor bit of coincidence helped remind AnOldSinner that the past is only one or two disappointments away. Doubt, fear, guilt and anger are just laying in wait to replace faith, trust and belief. Thanks to Kenny T for Morning Story and Dilbert, and thanks to those lost souls who found “The Big Wheel” so threatening. God used all of them to get my attention one more time.
© S. E. Jackson 2012