God Puts the Lonely in Families (Mel)
The following testimony sent by Mel V. is great stimulus for my New Years resolution: Be more conversational with strangers. I’m well over 12 years old now and it’s time to start talking to people I don’t know and see what God will do! Who’s with me?
I think this story may be more common for other Chicago residents than a lot of us realize. I grew up in the church: umpteenth generation Christian, my dad read devotions to us each night before dinner, church twice each Sunday, Christian school education, Bible studies and youth group retreats. And then college was done and it was time for real life. Well, graduate school at least, in a public university that was out of state. And I knew no one in the big city I was moving to. For a while, I tried to continue walking in faith. Having felt called to this degree, this program, and this city; I tried to press on. But the stresses of school, the homesickness, and lack of Christian community took its toll.
So my quiet times ground to a halt. I stopped trying to look for a new church. And then I stopped really paying attention to my relationship with Christ at all. I found new friends, in bars and clubs around the city. I went from never drinking due to personal beliefs and lack of interest to purposefully going out, on my own mind you, to drink as much as a I could to take away the pain of my loneliness and emptiness. Finally, months later, broke, sick from my poor diet and partying habits, and generally heartbroken, I fell on my face next to my couch, pleading with the God I vaguely remembered to place someone or something in my life to prove that He had called me here and still cared about me.
The next night I went out, looking for anyone to talk to who would listen to me, and I found myself talking to a coffee sample seller in the window of a coffee shop. A girl walked up, who I tried to encourage to take a sample of the coffee, just to have someone else to continue talking to, but she declined and moved on. I stayed for another half hour, irritating the coffee sample hawker I’m sure, until the girl actually came back. She asked me if I was going to go in and have a cup of coffee, which I blindly claimed “of course.” I walked in and she invited me to sit with her. Slightly confused, I accepted, and she started talking to me about her work, her family out of state, and her friends. She asked me questions about my life as well, about my school work, internships, and family. Abruptly, she asked me if I was a Christian. I must have looked surprised; she said she was wondering because of my necklace. Of course:the cross necklace my mom had given me for making profession of faith when I was 16. I never took it off. “Yes,” I responded, “I guess I am.” “Oh cool, I go to this church that has a lot of 20-somethings in school or recently graduated. I’m pretty new there, but I like it. You should come check it out.” She gave me the address where her church met, and told me to be there around ten if I was interested.
I decided to give it a shot (what else was I going to do on a Sunday morning? The rest of my “friends”were either studying or sleeping off the activities of the previous night). The service was pretty good,but I remember more being greeted by more than one person, genuinely interested in who I was and why I was there. After the service, a group of the girl’s friends were going out for a picnic and to play Frisbee. They invited me to come along and join in the fun. I did, and immediately felt more like I had a family than I had in two years. God provides what we need in His timing, and in, sometimes, the most surprising ways.
Thanks for the encouragement, Mel, and for being a part of the family! We love you! What a great God who loves us and sets us up to be loved by others. Stay tuned for the fascinating Prequel to this story involving 2 other people you may know and the same little coffee shop.