The Nicest Thing Anyone’s Ever Done For Me

In our house, we have a “Hall of Shame”. It’s basically like a hall of photos, but it is extremely shameful. Why? Because we were some awkward-looking children. Well, at least I was. Braces, glasses, chubby cheeks, kinky hair… You name it. That was me.

If you add to all the outward awkwardness the fact that I was also extremely nerdy, carried home library piles that weighed more than I did, and had a framed autograph of Julie Andrews sitting on my dresser, you can probably guess why I didn’t have very many friends. Friends are kind of hard to come by when you’re a five-foot-five fourth grader who thought Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” was basically the greatest movie ever.

Looking back now, it’s easy to feel sorry for my genetically challenged preteen self. Because even though I thought I was the coolest thing ever, no one else really did. But I never felt bad for myself at all in my pre-middle school years. I knew I wasn’t the prettiest or smartest or funniest person ever, but I was happy. Part of this was probably due to the fact that Anne Shirley and Jo March are the two best friends a girl could ask for, but part of it I also attribute to a very sweet young lady, who is probably the nicest person I ever met.

Her name was Nicole. And she was—brace yourselves—a college student. That’s right. In the eyes of a fourth grader, she seemed like the coolest eighteen-year-old to walk the planet.

I grew up going to church with Nicole, and I always admired her and enjoyed spending time with her. I remember that she had some back surgery done when she was sixteen and my mom took me to visit her in the hospital. I read to her from one of my favorite books, and she didn’t seem to mind talking with me. Shortly after that, my family moved a few hours away and I entered into my full-blown awkward phase. One evening, after a pretty rough day, my dad made a casual suggestion. “Why don’t you write a letter to that girl Nicole?” he said. “I think she just started college a few months ago. I bet she would like to get a letter and make things a little less lonely there. I can ask her parents for her address.” He did, and I wrote a letter and sent it. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I’m sure it was along the lines of “Oh please, oh please, be my pen-pal! Please, please, please!”

This is where Nicole officially became the nicest, coolest person ever, in my eyes. Because she wrote me back. Not just one or two letters, either, but for almost two years Nicole faithfully wrote me every week. Nice, long letters—sometimes three or four pages long—filled with interesting things that I would want to hear about. She talked about what she was learning in school, and what movies she was watching, and about her friends’ weddings. She sent me pictures of her school and her parents, and copies of drawings she had made. Basically, she clued me in on the all-so-amazing-and-cool life of a nineteen-year-old college girl. And she made me feel like I was interesting, too.

One of the last times I ever saw Nicole was when I was ten years old. My family was going through a bit of a hard time because we were selling the book fair business, but she offered to hang out with me for a day. She took me to the big mall an hour away from my house and shopped with me all day. We saw a movie, ate soft pretzels, and she asked me about my life. She was twenty years old. I was ten. And yet, she made me feel like the coolest person ever. She didn’t care about being seen with me in public, or what might happen if one of her friends caught us hanging out together. She bought me a purse from Limited Too (yes, I was that lame!) for my birthday and I wore it all day long. It was the best day of my life, up to that point.

That was a long time ago. After that day, we wrote and emailed for a while. But things fizzled out eventually. I grew up and became interested in other things, and she moved on with her busy life. To tell the truth, I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

Until recently. Until just yesterday, when I was standing by my mom at some random yard sale while we perused old boxes for cool used junk. Then I saw a little girl, probably seven or eight years old. She was sitting at a little table with a small stash of nail polish cluttering the surface. A homemade sign on the side of the table read: Painted Nails. $1 a Hand. By the looks of it, she wasn’t getting much business. And, I mean, that was kind of to be expected. Two dollars for a nail job by a third grader is a bit of a rip off. But, for some reason, I paid to get my nails done. I forked over two dollars (which, by the way, was more money than probably anything else the family was selling), and she painted my nails “ballet pink”. We chatted a little about nails while she carefully painted my fingers, then I thanked her for the wonderful job and left. But, before I stepped out the driveway, her mom pulled me aside and said, “Thank you. You have no idea how much that means to her. You’re the only person who did that all morning.”

But you know what? I did sort of know how much it meant to her. Because I remember being eight. And wanting to be old and cool and have more than two dollars in my pocket. I remember wanting someone to listen to me and think that I was as important and interesting as they were. And Nicole did that for me. And I think, in a small way, I returned the favor by taking a few minutes to show interest in the little girl with the nail polish stand.

Nicole will probably never know that I still have all of her letters because she’ll probably never know that they meant that much to me. But they did. She gave me confidence when I might have been easily crushed by peer pressure. She encouraged me when I might have felt depressed or lonely. It wasn’t that big of a deal. All she did was write a few letters from time to time. But, over the years, all those words added up to a thick bundle of encouragement and friendship that I still keep in a box in my room. Taking the time to write and show interest was honestly the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me. And all I can hope is that, one day, I’ll be able to show the same support to someone else, and help encourage them, too.



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  1. this is my favorite blog post by far! today my family had a yard sale and I was actually reminiscing on past memories of childhood etc; Yours is probably the sweetest story I’ve heard about childhood role models. Kudos to you for returning the favor to that 8 year old nail artist. She may not remember it as a BIG moment in her life, but it will contribute for the better to the person she will become.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Isn’t it fun to reminisce? 😉 I often think of all the little things people have done for me that I didn’t realize as very important at the time, but that had an impact on me later in life. Nicole is just one example. 🙂

      | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  2. * Emily says:

    Aww, that was SO sweet! I think at times we don’t realize how much younger girls look up to the older ones. Sometimes we’re reminded of that just by fixing your hair in a public restroom, and you notice a younger girl looking at you with a sort of worshipful admiration and you know they’re thinking the same thing you did at their age, “What’s it like to be that old and that cool?” (even if you picture yourself more as a strange nerd! 😉 ) It’s sort of scary in a way; what if we give them a bad example how to act?

    Sorry for the long comment, and it may not have had much to do with the post… they were just some things running through my head. 😉

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Haha–I remember the first time I was in a public restroom and I caught a kid watching my reflection! It was such a major freak-out moment because I realized that *I* was the cool older girl! Even if I don’t think much of myself, I need to remember that I am a role model to younger girls and always be conscience of that.

      | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  3. * Ellyn says:

    I love this post! I read it twice. 🙂 I often wonder what it’d be like to go back to that age and see again just how ‘old and cool’ girls my age are to those younger ones.

    Another cool relationship is a girl and her mom. Can you even imagine having someone view you the same way you view your mom? That’s appealing and at the same way…not. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  4. * Jordanna says:

    What a sweet post Rachel! It’s so true: an older girl can influence a younger girl more than she may ever know! I all but idolized my older cousin and she never treated me like an obnoxious tag along, even though I really was. Now as an adult, I really appreciate married women, wives and mothers, who ignore the fact that I’m just a squirty little homeschool graduate. Thanks for that reminder to look out for littler girls to love!

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  5. * Alyson says:

    So cool! That’s all I can say 🙂 Oh, how I wish I had someone like Nicole, when I was younger. I am 14 and just now feel like I have a friend like that.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Well, you never know who God will bring into your life, Alyson! I’m sure that, when the time is right, God will send you just the encouragement that you will need at that point in your life! 🙂

      | Reply Posted 6 years ago
      • * Alyson says:

        It was so cool, because I was at the beach this weekend with my youth group and I wasn’t really feeling well. (and I don’t enjoy walking up and down the boardwalk watching people wast their money) And my friend, who is out of college, just goes, “Do you need a hug?” I said, “Yes.” And she just gave me a really big hug. I felt a lot better. It’s awesome how that works sometimes.

        Posted 6 years ago
  6. * Emily Ann says:

    Rachel, this is soooo beautiful and encouraging! Lovely post!!

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  7. * IntrovertedSarah says:

    What a beautiful memory.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  8. * Sisi says:

    Rachel, that is powerful and reminds me of how something so simple can be the world to some other girl. Lord give me the strength and humility to keep giving and loving the way others need it even when I’m tired! This is by far one of my FAVORITE posts.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
    • * RachelC says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You are definitely a great example of someone who ministers to younger girls tirelessly, and I’m sure the Lord is making you a “Nicole” in someone’s life! 🙂

      | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  9. * Katelyn S. says:

    Thank you so much for the sweet reminder that there are others watching us! I am the oldest of 5 girls and can often forget this fact. I hope I will remember this more often now.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  10. What a sweet post. A young woman more than ten years older than me also gave me the gift of her friendship through letters. She died of cancer several years ago, but I still have her letters and treasure her friendship. Hopefully we will all try to emulate those amazing people who took the time to make us feel special when we were young.

    Thanks for the post!

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  11. * Rachel Marie says:

    Wow! that is so beautiful, and inspiring!!

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  12. Aw, such a cool post! It reminded me that I need to be nicer to my younger sisters; as the oldest, I want to be someone they can learn from. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 2 months ago

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