Please Hold My Hand
Mar 12, 2023 | by The Fellowship
A strangled sob interrupted my concentration. Recently graduated from a southern university, I sat at my desk in New York City that November morning struggling with the layout of our company’s weekly newsletter. Startled, I swiveled around to see the crumpled, misery-torn face of Marie, a friend in the department where I worked.
She asked to talk to me, but the words were uncontrolled and hysterical. Conscious of the open-top partitions of my office, I led her to the conference room as apprehension swept over me. It must have something to do with Juan, the new boyfriend, I speculated. Juan had brought a happy glow to Maria’s face the past few weeks.
She seemed long overdue for some happiness. Marie had a drab childhood spent with two unaffectionate aunts because her mother was institutionalized. Starved for love, at 16 she had eagerly married a fellow several years older. Problems surfaced when she became pregnant – he wanted no children. When a second child followed, her husband’s rage and rejection resulted in a nervous breakdown for Marie and divorce.
Psychiatric treatment had gradually enabled her to cope. Upon meeting Juan recently, her numbed feelings began budding under his constant attentions.
In the conference room, she fought for enough control to speak. Juan had tried to make her go to bed with him the night before. When she refused, he told her about being married with three kids; he even pulled out his wallet and showed her their pictures. He figured she would be receptive to his advances.
Marie slumped into a chair. “I do not know how I can stand anymore.” Her words were almost inaudible. Her eyes looked glassy, and her face was set as if in death. Was she on the verge of another nervous breakdown? My college psychology courses had not prepared me for dealing with emotional illness.
I suggested Marie needed to talk to her psychiatrist, but quickly learned she was out of town. Desperately my thoughts spun. “Please help me, Lord,” I prayed silently.
“Is your psychiatrist at a clinic?” I asked. She barely nodded her head. I asked for the phone number. At her desk, she handed me the printed card of a local government agency. I went to my office to make the call.
My fingers shook as I dialed the clinic. Keeping my voice low, I explained the situation. Someone on the other end asked me to bring her in – but not to let her come alone. Another therapist would talk to her.
Slipping into my outer wraps, I went back to Marie’s desk. She sat exactly how I left her, so I helped her into her coat. The building we left seemed warm and bright compared to the gray, overcast gloom outside. Marie’s steps faltered, then stopped. “Could you please hold my hand?” she pleaded. I smiled and tightly clasped her fingers. She leaned against me as if to draw strength.
We sat on the subway with our hands entwined though several passengers stared curiously. I began sharing with her my faith in God – that He wants to be involved daily in our lives to help us and bless us.
“I have really tried praying,” she answered. “But I feel like my prayers do not reach Him.”
“Oh, Marie, I think God hears your prayers,” I said. “I think He put me here to help you this very day.” As she silently looked at me for several seconds, I saw hope return to her eyes.
The clinic was in the basement of a drab building. A man came over and put his arm around Marie. He showed her into an office and closed the door. I sat down in the empty reception area and picked up a magazine. Within several minutes, an outburst of crying and shrieking began that no door could have contained. I sat staring uncomprehending at a magazine page. The torrent of emotion seemed to have no end. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and tried another magazine. But I could not blot out the misery that besieged my ears. So I closed my eyes and prayed.
Gradually the sounds began to subside. Finally, it grew quiet. I became increasingly conscious of the passage of time. How were we going to explain our long absence from work?
It was almost two hours before Marie came out – with a calm, but drained demeanor. When we got back to our workplace, I hurried to my office and the newsletter’s fast approaching deadline. Blessedly, no one came to question me about our absences. At quitting time, Marie insisted she could make it home without my assistance.
She was at work again the next morning, but still struggling to cope. The following day, she seemed much better, with some of the old sparkle glimmering through. She had seen her own psychiatrist the night before who said she would have had another nervous breakdown if I had not helped her. But now she was going to make it! Marie said she realized God was helping her. We hugged each other in silent understanding.
I left New York City after a year but was thrilled to later hear that Marie had married a widower with small children. She moved with her kids to the suburbs to become the cherished wife and mother she had always longed to be.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.