As Stacy perused bookshelves of the business, she saw a display of how-to books. How to cook, how to date—she laughed at that one. Yep, she’d failed at both of those and almost burned down her former boyfriend’s apartment. How to quilt … nope, that was her niece’s thing. How to do carpentry. Not a chance.
The stairs beside her led to a loft. As she neared the top, she noticed a pair of black-laced, thick-heeled shoes.
“Can I help you?” A tall, serious-looking, black and gray-haired woman with glasses on the end of her nose spoke.
“I don’t know what I’m looking for.”
“Then how will you know when you find it?”
“Well if you need help, let me know.”
Stacy noticed the tag on the woman’s vest. Bertha. She stifled her laugh. Of course, she’s Bertha. Old name—old woman. “Okay, thanks.”
She continued down another row of books looking for … she didn’t know what. A book caught her eye. Piano for Dummies. She kept walking. Couldn’t learn to play without a keyboard.
Bertha didn’t move.
“Well, thanks again,” Stacy said not making eye contact.
“Are you sure there isn’t something I can help you find?”
If nothing else, she’s persistent. “Like I said before, I don’t know—I want to learn to do something. Everything I try … I’m not good enough … I seem to fail at everything and my family often reminds me of it. I can’t sew or knit. I don’t dance. I’m no good at sports, music, or … well, really anything.
Bertha smiled for the first time and tilted her head to the side. “Would you like a glass of tea?”
“Why don’t you keep looking while I bring us some. We can sit in the corner of the loft.”
Okay, fine. Maybe then she’ll leave me alone.
In a few moments, Bertha was back with a tray with iced tea and crisp, pencil-shaped cookies filled with chocolate—Stacy’s favorite.
The two ladies sat opposite each other. The only sound came from the speakers as a familiar song played.
“Isn’t that song ‘In Christ Alone’”?
“Yes, it’s one of my favorites. You know it?” Bertha took another sip of tea and offered a cookie to Stacy.
Stacy nodded as she chose one.
“I play it when I need to remember my hope is in Him and that He is my peace and calm in the most difficult storms of life,” Bertha said.
Stacy looked at her for several seconds and then shook her head. “I’m not even good enough for Him.”
“None of us are.” Bertha put down her glass and leaned forward.
“Do you know what Jesus did?”
“I know He died, like, to take away sin.”
“Yes, and He died and rose again so you could have God with you always. He didn’t do that because anyone was good enough. If we were, why would He have needed to die?”
Stacy watched the woman in the chair next to her.
“You see, God made you and me so we could have a relationship with Him. When we become distracted thinking there’s some other reason we’re here, we get confused and begin thinking we’re missing something, or we feel like we’re not doing enough of whatever we think we’re supposed to do.” Bertha sipped her tea.
Stacy reached into her purse and pulled out a tissue, then dabbed her eyes.
She felt pressure on her knee.
“I don’t know what’s upset you right now. But I want you to remember, no one understands more than Christ and you won’t find your answers until you find them in Him.”
Stacy leaned forward and cried. Suddenly she was enfolded in a hug.
“Lord, only You see the heart of this dear girl. Wrap her in Your love and show her the way to You.”
“You really believe He’s the way I’ll find what I’m looking for?”
“Has anything else worked for you yet?”
“Not at all. I feel worthless and like I’m never good enough for anyone.”
Bertha smiled. “Would you like to meet with me occasionally? We can talk, have tea, and look for the answers in the only book I know can help.”
Bertha smiled. “Yes. Maybe you should tell me your name if we’re going to spend time together.”
“It’s Stacy,” she said as she held out her hand to this woman who no longer looked quite so serious.
Photo used with permission