Dan and I met friends at a restaurant yesterday. I went to the bathroom and was finishing up in the stall when I heard it: gagging and vomiting, coming from the stall next to mine.
Since we were at a restaurant attached to a brewery, my first thought was, “Some poor girl had too much to drink.” I wanted to make sure she was okay, so I took my time finishing in the stall and washing my hands. As I stood at the sink, she came out of her stall. She was young, maybe in her early twenties, wearing a white skirt and a black top. She was very pretty. I looked directly in her eyes. She was not drunk. With the loud noise of the hand dryer to cover me (there were others in the restroom who came in after she vomited), I pointedly said, “Are you okay?” She said, “Yeah.” She washed her hands and we both stood there waiting for the girl at the hand dryer to finish.
Once more, I locked eyes with the woman and it hit me: she was bulimic. I was stunned at the realization in my head, and could barely get my mind wrapped around it. I looked at her once more, dried my hands, then grabbed a tissue as a way to stall for time again. She finished drying her hands, walked to the door, and I followed her. She veered left and I veered right, and that was the last I saw of her.
I joined Dan and our friends at the table, told them what happened, and rejoined the conversation. But I couldn’t relax; the merriment of the day had vanished from my heart. I felt a tremendous pull to go find the girl. This is the conversation I had in my head: “Go find her!” “And do what?!” “Just find her! Tell her she’s beautiful. And loved. And worth more than that.” “And then she’ll think I’m crazy, and what do I know about her life?” “What if she does? Go find her!” “I don’t want to meddle. What if she’s sitting with friends who don’t know anything about this?” “Then tap her on the shoulder and ask her to step aside with you. Or take her a note. Just go find her!”
So I got up from the table again, mid-conversation. I walked through the restaurant and tried to find her. There was a reception in the back room, and I tried to peek in the doors without looking obvious. I didn’t see her on my first scan. I walked away and went through the bar area, then went back to the reception and lingered a little longer at the doors. I still couldn’t find her. I literally had to restrain myself from barging in the room and trying to find this woman. I knew I had to walk away, so I did. And I carried that woman to God’s arms, pleading that He would find some other way to reach her.
I can’t stop thinking about her. This morning in church, I saw her face in my mind again. I replayed the scene over and over, wishing I had a second chance so I could say what I was too stunned to say in the bathroom: You are beautiful. You don’t need to do that. And maybe? Just maybe, I might even say something about God’s grace and love and how she is worthy and priceless.
I am not what you would consider an evangelistic person. I was raised to believe that your faith is a personal thing you didn’t really share with others. It was okay to talk about it, of course, but mainly with people you already knew were believers too. So for me to talk to a total – and hurting – stranger about God’s love? Oooo, my pulse quickens because that idea is SO FAR out of my comfort zone.
BUT… I know that woman needed to hear it. I know I needed to say it, and I’m being prepared to get out of my comfort zone and start saying it more.
So I am praying for her. I am trying to let go of her and put her in God’s hands. I’m also praying for myself.
God, please give me another chance to share your love with others. I am boldly asking: put someone in my path who needs you! Let your Spirit fill my mouth with the words they need to hear. Let me be unafraid to speak your truths, and help me do it gently and with humility. I want to obey your nudges and open my ears to your whispers. And dear God, please don’t let me screw it up. Amen.
“One person standing on the Rock can throw a lifeline to others drowning in the sea.” Francine Rivers, Atonement Child