I was ten years old when I first became acquainted with my future Youth Director, Henrietta Dooley. To those at church who knew her well, she was simply known as "Dooley".
There was no pretense when it came to Dooley. If she didn't like you, she made sure you knew it, but if you found favor with her, there was no limit to her loyalty.
I can't remember Dooley ever telling me she loved me...but I felt her love. That "feeling" was the fuel for my legs as I walked the four miles to "Youth Night" at church each week, in the early 60's.
Last year, friends told me Dooley had a terminal disease. She no longer lived in my city, and I hadn't seen her in years. I knew I must write a letter to thank her for her love, and tell of the inspiration she had been in my life. The words flowed like running water.
I didn't hear back from Dooley, but several months later, her husband brought her back home for a visit. While she was staying at her son's home, she called me one day. "Barb, will you come out for dinner, tonight?" I felt honored for the invitation; of course I would come!
After supper, she began to talk about the day she received my letter. "I was in the hospital, and felt so depressed I had to look up to see bottom," she confided. "Barb, you will never know what your letter did for me and I want to thank you for it."
Dooley's funeral was a few weeks ago. As I entered the funeral home, I prepared myself for great sadness. To my surprise, a sense of peace and hope enveloped me as I viewed my friend. I thought of how fortunate God was to have the likes of a woman called Dooley on His team.
When Dooley spoke, people listened. I sure hope she's putting in
a good word for me!
To every Youth Director who reads this, I pray you understand the depth of lasting impressions you are stamping on the hearts and lives of teens, whether positive or negative.
Parents, is there a "Dooley" in your teen's life? Not a perfect one, mind you, but one whose love and devotion is making a difference for the good, in his or her life; express your gratitude.
Teenager, pray for your "Dooley", but take it a step farther and
tell that Youth Director how special he or she really is.
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." (Proverbs 25:11 NIV)