Young Life Capernaum

Young Life Capernaum

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

16 Words by Lyn TenBrink

“HI!!!!  My name is Lyn! 
I need LOTS of help!
I want to be a nice stranger!”

Last month I was traveling for Young Life and we went out for dinner to a barbeque joint with our divisional trainers in Denver, CO.  We sat and I excused myself to the bathroom.  Immediately when I entered the bathroom I heard some grunts and guffaws going on.  I entered a stall and heard in a loud, frustrated and anxious voice, “I need help!”  I gave it a few seconds and then asked how I could help. 

I won’t go into the details but the young woman in the stall next to me did indeed need help.  I began handing her certain items under her stall and as I kept repeating this she very clearly described the scene and I could tell that there was something unique about her by the vocabulary she used, how she spoke and the need for me to keep explaining the boundaries that “should” be there when a stranger is helping you in a bathroom.

When things were in a “tidier” place, she burst out of her stall and stuck her hand out to shake my hand.  Immediately I reminded her we needed to wash our hands “real good” before we shook hands.  After we washed a few times she quickly stuck her hand out again and said, “Hi! My name is Marni and I need LOTS of help!!  You are a nice stranger!!  She disarmed me with a mere 16 words.

“Hi!!!!”  With much, much enthusiasm! We had not even seen each other yet, in fact we had been through a rather messy situation and I am not sure she was as excited to meet me as she was excited to finally bust out of that stall but seriously- I would be such humble pie if I was her and yet her eyes danced she was genuinely excited to meet me. Heart melts.

“My name is Marni and I need LOTS of help!”  This literally made me want to hug her because honestly….I need lots of help too!  It was like we were kindred spirits immediately.  How in the world do you not want everyone you meet to be that vulnerable?  What would it look like if we introduced our selves that way to every one?  What crap would we literally cut right through in our very soul if we started out introductions that way?  What would it be like if we addressed our God that way?  Is this what freedom in Christ is- simply naming it and moving forward with Him and others?  What a gift like none other!

“You are a nice stranger.”  Seriously, Marni’s enthusiasm clearly indicated that a “nice stranger” was a rare thing in her life.  Is it really that hard to be nice?  Do I make the time to be nice to strangers throughout my day?  Who’s a stranger exactly?

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life… use your freedom as an excuse to serve one another in love: that’s how freedom grows.”  Galatians 5:13-15

Marni’s vulnerability allowed me to serve her in love and in turn my freedom grew. She gave me such wonderfully messy permission to live free in that bathroom!  I can’t tell you how often her 16 words have passed through my head since we met.  Last week I was in Colorado Springs at Senior Leader Training with Young Life.  I met so many new people and so many times in my head throughout the introductions I wanted to enthusiastically burst “Hi!!!!  My name is Lyn!  I need LOTS of help!  I want to be a nice stranger.”


But…I didn’t… probably should have because I have lots of friends and strangers in my life that could use the freedom in Christ transparency that Marni modeled to me.  It feels so good to admit I need help, and it feels so good to be nice even if we are strangers.  Thanks Marni where ever you are! 

Be a nice stranger this week!