Caitlin L., daughter Karlyn’s best friend, has been using our van for just shy of a year. She did not have enough money to buy a car at the time (last July), so we prepared a contract allowing her to use it for an indefinite amount of time so she could get to work and go other places she needed to go until she earned enough to buy her own car.
Recently, however, she and Karlyn had a horrendous falling-out. In the heat of their argument Karlyn took it on herself to text Caitlin, laying out for her the conditions for returning our van to us, including an actual date (something she had no right to do, since the agreement between Evelyn, Caitlin, and me did not involve her in any way). Still, Caitlin accepted Karlyn’s text as legitimate and made arrangements to bring the van back on a set Monday, about a week after she got the text.
I learned about this when Karlyn sent the text to me first, saying I should be the one to send it to Caitlin. It was a strongly-worded, “if you don’t do this, then this will happen” message that I was very uncomfortable with, and so I didn’t pass it along. That’s when Karlyn, emotionally charged, sent it herself. Since Caitlin was willing to bring the van back, I decided to let it ride and see if we could settle the situation amicably.
I wasn’t at all confident that “amicably” was going to be the defining word, since Karlyn assumed that she would be present when the van was returned and we sat down to calculate the remaining rent due, etc. She’s so much at the mercy of her emotions – and they can flare up like an inferno – that there’s no way to keep her in line once she starts on a rant. I make no apologies for admitting that I lost a lot of sleep between the text incident and the Monday that Caitlin was due to arrive. So I did my best to allow God to take control, to intervene, to at least keep things civil.
Monday came, and so did Caitlin. I suggested that we all sit around the dining room table so we could see one another. I said, “Now, before we get started, I have two rules I want us to follow.” I was about to explain that I expected the conversation to be civil – no shouting, no accusations, etc. And that I also expected Karlyn to butt out, since none of this concerned her in the first place. Her vitriol toward Caitlin had everything to do with their personal relationship and nothing at all to do with our van. But before I could even get the words out of my mouth, Karlyn said, “I know. I’m not going to say anything,” sending the message that she was there simply as an observer.
With that having been said, Evelyn, Caitlin, and I worked on the financial calculations, reminded Caitlin that we were waiting for her employer to come through with covering the damage to the van that occurred at her job when a tree branch fell on it during a storm, and making sure that she had plans to buy the car she was looking at so she could still get to work.
Then, something miraculous happened. Caitlin and Karlyn started talking to each other. It was a long talk, and while it was emotional, it wasn’t “angry emotional.” Caitlin assured Karlyn that she would always be there for her, and Karlyn affirmed her affection for Caitlin. There were tears, but I think they were tears of, perhaps, a tinge of regret on Karlyn’s side for having pushed Caitlin away in the heat of anger. When I heard Caitlin offer Karlyn unreserved dedication and friendship, I couldn’t help but tear up a bit myself. What we were witnessing was a thing of beauty, and I said, directly to Karlyn, “For all the many friends I’ve had over the years, not one of them has said to me what Caitlin just said to you.” It was unquestionably an answer to the prayers I had offered prior to this day.
So, the day that Evelyn and I had hoped would pass quickly for fear of having to deal with explosive words and hurt feelings turned out to be a day of reconciliation. God is so incredibly good, able to take our messy lives and make something beautiful of them in spite of ourselves.