I saw the crumpled paper out of the corner of my eye while talking to an acquaintance at the end of choir rehearsal. I finished my conversation, bent over, and picked up the paper to toss it in the wastebasket. At the last second I uncrumpled and read it.
I saw my handwriting.
I love to sing; singing in the choir fed my soul. The choir room was my sacred space. Our choir director usually started us with vocal warm-ups, then we'd rehearse a few anthems before taking a break for devotions. We exchanged prayer requests at the end of each break. We wrote them down and put them in a basket, then took one from the basket as it made its way back around.
This evening was different. Our choir director asked us to write down a personal prayer request, one we might not otherwise share publicly. He challenged us to sign our names if we felt we could. It didn't take long to write mine—the words flowed easily. I'd written a personal request but couldn't decide if I'd sign my name. With palms sweating, at the last second, I signed my name, folded the paper, and tossed it in the basket. I'd taken a huge risk. I remember thinking, Anita, you are really desperate to do this.
Now leaving to go home, I picked up that crumpled piece of paper to discover my handwriting. I smoothed it and read it again.
"I'm very lonely. Please pray for me."
I'd found my plea, discarded and tossed on the floor. I was devastated. I put the smoothed-out piece of paper in my Bible, and thought, I'll take this home and throw it out myself! Then no one else can find my confession. A piece of my heart was inked onto that piece of paper. It withered and died that night.
On the ride home, my mind went into overdrive. How many people saw this, picked it up, read it, and dropped it back on the floor? I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I wanted to leave the choir and the church and never come back.
If you knew me then, you had no idea the depth of my loneliness. Even I didn't fully. I was a worship leader, and in leadership at work, but I was dying inside. I had plenty of acquaintances, but no deep friendships. I was desperately lonely and in a very lonely marriage.
A few weeks later the woman who had picked my prayer request out of the basket privately identified herself and apologized. She'd intended to visit me, but hadn't been able to find the time. As she told me this, I remember screaming inside my head, I can't believe you are standing there telling me that you almost came to visit me, but you didn't have time! I was desperate enough to write this request and sign my name to it; can you honestly not see how lonely I am right now?