I have not actually stopped blogging, but if you’ve ever tried to NaNo…you know it becomes all consuming. ESPECIALLY if you are still living your life at the same time.
-Taught, read, graded and re-graded research papers, outlines, and rough drafts (and I’m still not done with that)
-Had an AWESOME slumber party with the Grace Life Student Ladies (if you’ve never played Mafia with 15 teenage girls at midnight in your historical house with a dog underfoot, well let’s just say that was an awesome adventure)
-Recovered from a poinsettia attack (hey, ya’ll, I am tired of Christmas in November…not because I don’t have the spirit, but because I’m allergic to Holiday cheer. sheesh).
-And tried to Nano (I’m behind, but I don’t lose. So I WILL make 50,000 awesome words.)
*Special note, this scene is inspired by a story our pastor told about an experience he had taking one of our Global Outreach speakers to lunch. It really struck me and I wanted to find a way to share the concept with others. Thanks Jimmy Currence @GraceLifeChurch
“Gwyn’s my whole world,” Jeremy said, tossing his phone back in the console. “Her mother was going to give her up for adoption, but I convinced her to let me raise her. One of her conditions was that I stay in a small town. Not a hard decision to make—I didn’t want the military life anyway. So I left the West Point, and enrolled in a criminal justice program, then did the academy training and voila.”
“Wow—you did all that for your daughter?”
“I would do anything for her.”
“That’s beautiful.” Aidan looked out the window.
“It’s no more than what Jesus did for me.”
“What?” Aidan turned her head to look at Jeremy more closely. That was not what she expected him to say.
“Jesus. He gave up everything for me, his divinity, his popularity, even his life.”
“You know,” Aidan said slowly. “I believe all that, but I have a hard time understanding it.”
“I didn’t even believe it for the longest time,” Jeremy held the door open for her and then the chair as they sat at a small corner table near the back. “But I found it easier to understand and believe when I became a parent. When I look at Gwyn, I understand the kind of amazing love it takes for someone to sacrifice so much. It takes parental love, which is what He is and what he wants to be.”
“Hey, what can I get ya’ll today?” the waitress came up to the table, pad in hand.
“Hello, Patricia, I’d like a cup of black coffee and whatever this gorgeous woman will have.”
“A latte would be great.”
“That all for you?”
“Actually, I’d like to know if there is anything I could do for you, Patricia?” Jeremy asked the question sincerely and looked at her directly. And for the first time, Aidan looked up and really saw the woman in front of her. She looked tired, her hair was falling out of the bun that was probably carefully crafted sometime yesterday as this was an all-night diner the poor woman had probably worked a graveyard shift the same as the two of them. The more Aidan looked, the more she saw; lines around the woman’s eyes, a hole in the top of the woman’s shoe, and a stain on the apron that had been bleached, but still hadn’t come out. Aidan remembered what Edward had said about operating under the false illusion that everyone else was living a perfect life, and deep in her gut, she felt a little sick.
“Yes,” she said, almost as if it wasn’t her speaking. “Please, if there is anything we can do for you, Patricia, we’d like to serve you too.”
Jeremy looked at her, smiled and nodded his approval.
“Well, I’ll, um get your coffee, and think about that.”
“Thank you,” Jeremy said.
Aidan watched her walk off. “So what would you do if she says she needs money to pay her rent?”
“I’ll help her pay her rent.”
“Even if it’s like $1000?”
“Even so,” Jeremy took a breath. “That certainly wouldn’t be ideal, but God told me to serve this woman.”
“God told you? He spoke to you?”
“Well, yes. But not like a booming voice, Aidan.”
“Then how?” she was intensely curious. Edward kept telling her to listen to God, but that sounded crazy. God didn’t talk to people any more. And yet, here was Jeremy saying that he talked to God and God talked back!
“Well, the more you know God, the more you learn to recognize his voice. Sometimes I hear his voice through scripture, sometimes through the conversations I have with other believers, and sometimes through the feelings and nudges deep inside, those things that ‘just dawn on you’ or ‘you knew you shouldawouldacoulda’. I find that most of the time, those things are actually God’s spirit compelling us to move forward in his purpose.”
“So how did God tell you to help this woman?” Aidan asked, willing to accept that explanation.
“When I walked in, it was like God pointed and said ‘look at her, Jeremy, she needs love’.”
The waitress came back with the coffee, and Jeremy looked up at her and smiled. “So, how can we serve you?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes,” Jeremy nodded, and never broke eye contact.
“My car,” the waitress looked about ready to cry. “It stopped working this morning, and I’ve no idea why. I can’t afford a new one, and I doubt I can afford the repairs, but I need a car to get to my three jobs.”
Jeremy’s smile widened. “Done.” He pulled out a card. “This is my friend, Wallace. Call him today. He will tow your car and work on it free of charge.”
“What?” Patricia blinked.
“Because I love Jesus and Jesus told me to love other people. Please?”
Patricia nodded, the tears were in her eyes as she took the card, and Jeremy focused back on Aidan.
“Your friend, he’ll really do it for free, or you’ll pay for it?”
“For free. Wallace has about 12 car dealerships in the area, but he owns his own body shop here that he takes on, by recommendation only, people who need assistance but can’t afford. He will work out a deal with them for payment, or he’ll do it for free. All Patricia has to do is call and give him that card I just gave her.”
“What a coincidence,” Aidan murmured.
“No,” Jeremy said firmly. “That was God.”
Aidan took a sip of her latte, because it was all she could do. Words would not come to her. Her heart was too full. Finally, she spoke.
“It’s hard for me, sometimes, to see God as caring,” she said quietly. “Maybe because he is pictured as parental. To me, parents cause a lot of pain.”
“I’m so sorry,” Jeremy reached across the table and took her hand. “That is unnatural. And it sucks.”
“My dad left when I was six; he took my twin sisters, Lilly and Lilac, with him. For years I wondered what I had done to make him hate me. Why I had driven him away. My mother blamed me too, and even now—you saw her—she’s not quite in her right mind, but I know she still blames me.”
“Aidan, it’s not your fault,” Jeremy started.
“No,” Aidan shook her head. “And I recognize that now, but in a way it is even though I didn’t actually do anything to cause it. The hurt still remains. I’m not sure either of my parents even considered what they were doing to me when they made their decisions, so ‘parents’ to me has always been a very selfish term.”
“Thank you for telling me that,” Jeremy nodded. “I could tell after the other day that it isn’t something you share.”
“No,” she sighed. “But I’m trying to move past it.”
Jeremy reached across the table and took her hand in his; he rubbed his thumb across her knuckles.
“It’s a long road to forgiveness,” he said.
“Forgiveness,” she repeated the word as if it were foreign.
“It took me a long time to realize that’s what I needed in my life too, but once I let go and forgave, especially my ex, God was able to move in and help me move on.”
“Forgive them,” Aidan tasted the words; they were bitter. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
Jeremy nodded. “But you will be.” He finished off his coffee. Aidan’s had been gone for a while.
“Maybe,” she said, standing at the table.
“In the meantime,” Jeremy reached around and put an arm around her shoulders as they walked out to the car. “Let’s just take it one day at a time.”
“Now that,” Aidan said, hugging him around the waist. “I can do.”
Jeremy let go as they walked to the car and Aidan couldn’t stop smiling all the way home.