“This is called a telephone,” my father said. “We can use it to talk to other people. When it rings you pick this up, putting this part to your ear and this part to your mouth.” He noticed that we were looking at the little white disk in the center of a larger disk. The white disk had three numbers on it and was surrounded by round holes. My mother explained to us that people who had a telephone were given a number and this was ours. I was disappointed in the number we had been given as it was so short and did not have any letters in it. My school friend who lived on a farm in a rural area had a long number and it ended with “J-12.” I thought that this was so cool. Our dumb number was 5 4 7 and that was it. Dad said that it was because we lived in town. He tried to console me by saying that it would be easier to remember since our street address also had only three numbers—two of which were the same as the new phone number— 547 would make the phone ring at 524 Elm Avenue.
The telephone changed a lot of things about my life. I still played outdoors as often as I could. My younger sister’s best friend had been Butchy’s younger sister, Suzie, so Glenda also lost her playmate that sad Saturday. Glenda and I played with the bows and arrows together and she played catch with me, too, as best she could at three years my junior. Our days of neighborhood theater productions with little Suzie struggling to articulate her one line properly were over but, with Butchy and Suzie living miles from us now in another town, Glenda and I enjoyed playing together more than ever. However, the introduction of the telephone opened wide the horizons to developing friendships with kids in our town who lived a long ways from our own neighborhood.
Soon after I learned the telephone etiquette that my parents expected would go along with our memorizing the phone number, I began developing one such friendship. Linda lived about four miles north of town and rode the school bus each day. It was her cool longer phone number I had recalled when knoting our own three-digit assignment. Another girl was a part of our friendship trio, too, but her farm was located about half a mile from Linda’s and, while she was still able to go to school with us, her parents had chosen to secure their family phone number on the other side of the demarcation line that ran through their property. To call her would be a long distance call so I was not allowed to do that. We, three little girls, became really good friends. Linda and I enjoyed long telephone conversations with one another just about every day—even the days we had already spent together in school!
This friendship expanded the area of my bike rides, too. With Butchy gone, it was not as much fun to ride around the neighborhood. Now, however, there were many Saturdays I rode my bike the four miles to Linda’s house to enjoy play and learning to help her with her chores around the farm. The three of us were good friends for years, sharing “girl things” that Butchy would never have understood!
On the other hand, God had understood just what I would need and just when I would need it. The change from having Butchy as my “best friend” to having the two girls in that favorite spot, came with no small measure of pain for me; but, I can say in all honesty, that my friendship with them was, truly, a treasure worth that pain.
In Matthew 6:8 we read, “…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Usually people think of this passage of Scripture in connection with God answering prayer. However, I find that, in the story I just shared with you, our understanding Father God showed a broken-hearted little girl that He had a reason for letting her go through the pain of her very first “best friend’s” move, even though it hurt her a lot. God knew that I was changing and would need girls for my best friends in order to share “girl things”. Though I did enjoy friendly relationships with boys-- and later men—I never again had a “best friend” like the Butchy of my first decade of life. God knew just when the change would need to be made and he arranged things just right! I did not need to ask Him, He just knew!
****A New Decade: Homefront… Coming Tomorrow