A troubled man who steps into a church is uplifted by two heavenly little girls.
Apr 20, 2017
Scotch burned my throat on the way down. Finally. I’d waited hours for my favorite bar to open up and it wasn’t even noon yet. I couldn’t deny it anymore. My drinking was out of control and I was scared out of my mind.
“How are things, Jim?” asked Betty the bartender.
I shrugged and looked around the bar. The place was dim—none of the customers wanted to see anything too clearly.
I could make out a few faces against the wood paneling: A man in a rumpled coat hunched over a tumbler of whiskey. A woman with dark circles under her eyes. A guy with no teeth sipping a beer.
Compared to them I looked great in my designer jeans and expensive haircut, my BMW waiting outside in the rain. But inside I was just as miserable as they were.
I knew I should be happy. I was smart. I was a good salesman. I had my own business selling sunglasses. For a while I’d even been successful. But none of it made me happy. Once I’d asked a doctor about it. “Don’t you have any pills I could take to feel better?” I’d said.
The doctor shook his head. “Pills aren’t your answer. You need to find some peace in yourself. Exercise might help. Or meditating. Do you go to church?”
I hadn’t been to church in years.
“Sometimes just going into a church can make you feel better. They’re good places to think.”
I hadn’t taken the doctor’s advice. Instead I found my own way of lifting my spirits: alcohol. After a few drinks my head was buzzing and I felt a lot more cheerful. Too bad it couldn’t last. As time went on it took more and more alcohol to make me feel happy.
California got hit with a rainy spell and my business dried up. The worse things got, the more I drank. I told myself I didn’t have a problem, that I had it under control.
Then one morning I awoke needing a drink so bad my hands shook and my head ached. I emptied the shot glass in front of me. The alcohol that had once lifted my spirit was now killing it.
“You want another?” asked Betty.
If she only knew how bad…. I pushed myself off the bar stool. “I have to get out of here.”
I stepped out into the gray, wet parking lot. The rain pattering on my head was just another reminder of life going wrong. I had to get away—but where? The doctor’s words came back to me. Churches are good places to think.
I drove out to Manhattan Beach. A steeple rose into the sky up ahead. I parked in front of the church and gazed up at it through the windshield. Might as well go in, I thought. I don’t have anywhere else to be.
I dashed through the rain and ducked inside. The church was empty, but I slipped into the back row of the pews. Now what? I wondered. I felt so desperate and alone, I couldn’t even appreciate the silence. And then I heard a sound.
Way up at the front, to the side of the altar, two little girls were lighting candles. The warm glow of the flames was soothing. I’d forgotten how beautiful votive candles could be.
I don’t know what to do, God. I’m scared. I rambled on, watching the candles flicker in the darkness. I told God about my business troubles and my drinking, about the happiness that I couldn’t find.
I know things have to change, but I don’t know how. I just don’t want to be miserable anymore. Show me how to be happy, Lord. Show me where to start.
Up at the altar, the little girls finished lighting their candles. They walked down the aisle together, hand in hand. They looked about the same age. Maybe they were twins.
One had long blond pigtails like spun gold. The other wore her hair loose, but it was the same glorious color. Almost like sunshine.
What are they doing in church at this hour on a school day? I wondered. They didn’t wear school uniforms, but brightly colored dresses like you might see on the beach.
As they passed by my pew the girls turned together and gave me sunny smiles. I nodded to them. How sweet to be so friendly to a stranger, I thought. What must it be like to feel that happy?
I sat thinking about them. They were the first bright spot in my life since all this rain had started. Maybe even before that.
After a few minutes I stood up. I’d gotten all I could out of my visit to a church and it hadn’t solved my problems. So much for that doctor’s advice. Time to go face the world.
I ducked my head down and ran to my car, my feet splashing through the puddles. Just as I was about to pull the car door open, something on the windshield caught my eye. I pulled the damp piece of paper out from behind the wiper.
It was a note, written in a child’s hand. It said: Be happy. God loves you.
I looked at the church, then back to the note. Rain poured onto my head and ran down my collar, but I didn’t care. Be happy. God loves you.
I scanned the few other cars in the parking lot. None of them had a note on the windshield.
Had the little girls written this? If so, why had they stopped in the rain to write a note? And why did they only put a note on my car? And how had they known which car was mine?
I got into my car, my mind still full of questions. Where would the girls have gotten pencil and paper? They weren’t carrying anything when they left the church. In fact, they weren’t even wearing raincoats!
What just happened? As if in answer, I felt something change. At first I wasn’t sure what. I only knew that I felt different. Something had been lifted from me. I didn’t want a drink! The craving I’d lived with for months had vanished. In its place was something new: hope.
The desire for drink never returned. I started attending AA meetings to learn new ways of dealing with my problems. But I was on my way to finding happiness. I knew where to start. With knowing God loved me. I had a crayon-bright note from twin angels to tell me so.
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