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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: A Knock on the Door
By Emily Gibson


Four years ago, Laura came to my medical clinic for help with depression symptoms stemming from conflict she was having with her boyfriend who had moved out of their apartment after 3 years together. She was sullen and dry eyed in several meetings to discuss the start of antidepressant medications and I encouraged her to seek counseling as well. She refused counseling: “there is nothing more to talk about. He’s gone and that’s the way it is.” Her anger remained unspoken but nevertheless it was consuming her.

Laura called the clinic receptionist on a Friday afternoon to cancel an upcoming appointment for the following Monday and did not reschedule. It gave me a bad feeling that she was not following our treatment plan. I contemplated putting on my coat and heading home at the end of that long Friday but decided to call her. She didn't answer her phone.

I looked up her apartment address and drove there. As I approached her door, I could hear someone moving around in the apartment, but she didn't respond to my knocks or my voice. I decided to stay right there, talking to her through the door for about 15 minutes, letting her know I wasn't leaving until she opened up the door. I finally told her she could decide to open the door or I would call 911 and ask the police to come to make sure she was okay. Laura then opened the door.

She had been drinking heavily, with liquor bottles strewn around on the floor. Tears streamed down her face as she admitted she planned to overdose on aspirin and vodka. She said “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, as long as it makes him feel bad for how he treated me.” The vodka was already consumed and the unopened aspirin bottle was in her hand. I was the last person she expected to see at her door.

I called the mental health unit at the hospital and they had an open bed. Laura reluctantly agreed to come with me and be admitted voluntarily for stabilization. I went the following day to visit her and she greeted me with a hug and thanked me for not giving up on her when she had given up on others, had given up on herself, had given herself over to anger. In sobriety, her eyes were brighter and she was more hopeful. She never expected anyone to care enough to come looking for her, and to stand firm when she was intent on harming herself. She was astounded and grateful, and frankly, so was I.

Four years later, a small card arrived this week in my clinic mailbox on a most challenging work day, from an unfamiliar address two thousand miles away. The name looked vaguely familiar to me but when I opened and read the contents, this time it was my turn to let tears flow:

“Dear Doctor,
I am not sure if you will remember me considering you see a number of patients daily; however, I am a patient whose life you changed in the most positive way. I never truly THANKED YOU for listening to me and hearing my silent words of grief and hearing my cries for help when all I could feel was anger and hopelessness. If it had not been for you, had you not knocked on my door, I would not be writing this letter to you today. I don’t know exactly what to say to the person who saved me from hurting myself fatally. You were a stranger in my life, but a dear friend in my time of need. THANK YOU, for everything that you did for me. You have a permanent place in my heart, you have given my spirit hope, you have reminded me that a life is worth living. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sincerely, Laura”

I’m grateful 4 years ago I had the sense to go knock on her door, the stubbornness to stay put until she responded, and most of all, I’m appreciative for her gracious gesture in letting me know it made a difference. Instead of being consumed by her anger to the point of harming herself, she was now reaching out in gratitude.

On a most difficult day this week, Laura made a difference for ME. She knocked on my door and I opened it, awash in my own tears of relief at the healing that had taken place.

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This article has been read 611 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/21/08
This was a very moving piece that knocked on the door of my heart. It illustrates the topic in a very real way, but it also reminds us as Christians to be willing to follow the tugs of the Spirit to reach out to someone who is hurting. Well done.
Chrissi Dunn02/21/08
This illustrated the topic really well, especially with the line: “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, as long as it makes him feel bad for how he treated me.”
Seema Bagai 02/21/08
Great message in this piece.
Shelley Ledfors 02/22/08
An excellent illustration of this topic. Very well done.
Holly Westefeld02/23/08
I like how you demonstrated that our care for others comes back to us in God's perfect time.
Jan Ackerson 02/23/08
Loved the ending of this, and knowing that it was a true story really blessed me.

Some of your sentences tend to be run-ons, and I'd like a bit more "showing" in this piece.

Laura's attitude really typifies this proverb!
Debbie Wistrom02/25/08
Wow, I bet the agony of this situation is played out more than we know about. Thanks for the stark reality check.
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
So glad that he went and knocked on that door. Isn't it amazing what that one act of kindness, of being different, can do to help someone in need? This was really good, especially with the post card. I liked it.
Patty Wysong02/27/08
What a beautiful story.
Beth LaBuff 02/27/08
Laura was about to commit the ultimate “cutting off of the nose”… Your story is amazing. How great to hear of her encouraging note to you. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/27/08
What a rich life you've led in the influence of others. May God bless you for your caring heart. You told this story excellently.