I clearly remember the day I received her card.
I was dating a guy that was not at all a nice person. He did not know the Lord and I was not honoring the Lord in my relationship. As a result, I lost a lot of friendships. One friend in particular, Katie, told me she couldn’t continue to watch me spiral downward and she cut ties with me. I was so hurt by her decision (although now I completely understand it and we are close and wonderful friends to this day-Hi Katie!) that I just walled up my heart and dove deeper into my poor choices. I cut off my relationships with people who didn’t agree with my choices. I hunkered down in a tight crevice of my own will where no one – not even God- could reach me.
Or so I thought.
I was hanging out with my boyfriend while he played a computer game one evening and I remember we were eating pizza. I pulled my mail out of my purse and a card with unfamiliar handwriting was mixed in with bills and credit card applications. I opened the card and the words, “Katie asked me to write to you…” jumped off of the page. My eyes blurred over with tears and I couldn’t read the rest for a few moments. My boyfriend noticed and read the card after I did. He tossed it on the pizza box in disgust and asked, “Am I going to have to deal with church ladies this whole relationship?”
I shrugged it off, but later I nonchalantly tucked that card in my purse. I was curious about this person, this stranger, who dared to seek me out in my little cave. I re-read the card in the privacy of my apartment.
I don’t remember what it said. I know she shared some verses with me and offered to get together if I ever wanted to talk. I didn’t know this woman at all. But for some reason, I called her and met with her for coffee. And I really, really liked her. She was funny and sincere and kind. And bold. She told it to me like it was. We continued to meet almost weekly for the next few years.
Her name is Adrian.
Adrian has four kids: two boys and two girls. When we met, her youngest was barely two, if I remember correctly. As I sit today, my kids are about the ages that hers were when we met (I’m just missing an oldest in there). I am overcome with emotion when I put myself in her shoes and realize how much she sacrificed to invest in my life. She used her rare nights out as a stay-at-home homeschooling Mama to meet with a selfish wreck.
I would show up to coffee triumphant because I had finally broken things off with that guy. Weeks later I would show up and sheepishly announce that we were back together. This happened over and over again. “We’re through!” “We’re together.” “I’m pregnant.” “So, I found out he’s is sleeping with other women.” “I lost the baby.” “We broke up.” “He asked me to move in with him.” “I’m moving back out.” “He broke up with me because I got bangs.” “He wants to get back together.”
To this day I am dizzy and sick and humiliated just thinking about it. I can only imagine the great force of will that kept her from wringing my neck.
But this woman stood by me and she spoke truth into my heart over and over and over. She invested in me. I believe with all of my heart that God used her to save my life.
I was absolutely miserable outside of God’s will.
The Bible is clear that once we have been covered with the blood of Christ and once we have accepted Him as our Savior, we are His forever. I don’t believe that salvation is something that can be lost. But I do believe if we are not living in fellowship with God as His child, if we are deliberately sinning and choosing our own way, our life– our purpose– comes to a devastating halt. It’s a dark and horrible place to be.
In my time of back and forth stupidity, Adrian did more that meet me for coffee and speak verses and truth into my life. She invited me for dinner with her family. She opened the door of her sweet little home and every time I went there I felt like I was basking in light. Her family is so full of joy and laughter and fun. I can’t even begin to explain them–there are no adequate words. I have never met a mother more in love with or more in tune to her kids. Not in the creepy controlling way that I often have to be carful of. She just honestly adores her them. And they know it and are comfortable in their skin because they have their parents in their corner.
When I would leave their house and go back to my life, the dinners at her house carried me through the week. It was like being out in the cold on a dark winter night, gazing into the warmth and promise of a fully lit house.
Eventually, I began to babysit once a week so that Adrian and her husband could go to Bible study together. Then Adrian needed to get a job in the evening, so I would babysit some of those nights, too. I lived for the evenings that I got to play with her innocent, hysterical kids. We watched movies, made popcorn, danced to Veggie Tales, read books. I would put them to bed and when Adrian and her husband came home, I would sit and talk with them late into the night. They laughed with me and yelled at me. I always left full of God’s love and the truth that they poured into me. They graciously let me give back in the only way I could at the time. They trusted me to watch their most precious treasures, maybe not knowing how their joy and sweetness gave me the bravery to finally fall to my knees and beg God to rescue me from the pit I had dug for myself.
And He did. The very moment I whispered for help and surrendered my will to His, He charged in to rescue me. My life turned completely upside down. In the very best way.
Two years later, Adrian’s youngest son was in my wedding to my wonderful husband. And a month or two after that, they had to move away to a different state. They would come back to visit family over the next few years and we laughed and laughed because no matter when they visited, I was large with child. Her children thought that I was perpetually pregnant.
A year or so ago, they moved back to our area. I’ve been able to see Arian a few times and take my family to her house for dinner. Her now much older kids take my littles under their wing and my kids adore them.
Last week I met Adrian in the afternoon for a quick catch up. I told her, “You know you saved my life, right?” I try to tell her that as often as I can without always being that sap that makes people uncomfortable.
She shrugs it off. Insists that only by God’s grace she was able to be His tool in my life. And she’s right. Only by the grace of God could someone put up with such nonsense for so long.
As we talked over veggie bagel sandwiches about marriage and motherhood, I just soaked in her wisdom all over again.
Only God could do this. He has forged this wonderful friendship out of a card sent from one stranger to a very broken girl. Because of His love, she stood by me. And because He is good and kind, I can meet with her now speak His truth with her. Not just soak it in, but give it back because we are in shared fellowship with a God that pursues His children.
As much as this story is about Adrian’s love and kindness, it really is about the never ending love of God. Remember that deep crevice I pulled myself into? Where no one could find me?
Oh, friend, our God sees. He knows. He cares and pursues and loves so much more than we can imagine. He reaches into those dark places to pull us into His light and fellowship. Sometimes it takes tragedy, and sometimes God moves mountains to get our attention.
And sometimes He just asks one humble, kind, stay-at-home mama to send a card.
By God’s grace, B. D. Riehl s the author of The Earth is Full, and The Heavens Are Telling, both available here.