Has God ever totally caught you off guard? Has He ever show you that there’s a much bigger picture? Has He ever instantly brought you from a moment of laughter to a moment where you’re trying to hold back tears? He did that to me yesterday. The most shocking part, it was completely irrelevant to myself. It was a glimpse of God’s Kingdom.. or lack there of.
A few friends of mine and I just finished up watching the Oregon State / Washington game and headed over to Washington Square Mall over in Beaverton to grab some food. As we walked through Dick’s Sporting Goods to enter the mall, I was touching jackets and feeling shorts on all the mannequins, saying things like “Oooo.. This feels really nice” and “Woh! these feel comfy!” I was just being my goofy ol’ self pointing out the silliest of things. Then, I came up to a mannequin wearing UnderArmor spandex pants, and being in Dick’s, all the mannequins are ripped beyond all reason. Once I saw him, I yelled “WOH! He’s so ripped!” as I groped his thigh. I thought nothing of it, I was just trying to be a goof, but right after I did it, I looked to my right and saw a early-mid high school aged hispanic girl trying desperately to hold back her laughter. Continuing to be a goof, I said an awkward “uhhh” and walked away. Glancing back, I saw the girl walk up to her friend and bust up laughing.
My friends and I continued to walk towards the food court, and the girl and her friend followed not to far behind. I didn’t find it too strange. I just assume that some people are eccentric, so not expecting the strange places a limitation on the moment. As we neared the escalators to the food court, she came up from behind me and said, “Sorry, if this is weird but I would just like to say thank you because you just made my day.” Still being a goober, I was slightly startled she said anything to me, but I jocularly I responded to her saying that she made my day. Little did I know, she would affect my day drastically.
After grabbing our food, we pushed together some table to accommodate our whole group. Within the food court, there were a number of TVs playing various music videos, and my friends and I were joking around, singing songs. After 10-15 minutes pass I looked to my left and saw the girl once again, sitting 20-30 ft away from us. I made note to my friends that she was right over there, and they began making jokes of how she was gonna come over and start hitting on me or something.
As I continued to eat my food, someone pointed out that she got up and joked that she was going to make the loop around and talk to me. I assumed that she was just getting up to leave the food court, mall, or whatever; and when she actually did come up behind me and grab my attention, I was surprised once again. This time she told me, “I don’t want you to think I’m like a stalker or anything, but you seriously just made my year.” To joke back with her once again I responded by saying, “Your year? That’s a lot, and it’s only just begun!” Everyone at the table laughed as someone mentioned that it was only the 8th of January. She said, “No, my year. You have no idea. My life sucks.” Upon hearing that with my Christian mindset, I immediately thought that life doesn’t suck, we need to see our blessings. I simply responded with a humorous “No, I’m sure it doesn’t” type saying. At that moment, she told replied, “No, it really does,” as she showed me her arm with numerous scars from her self injury. Immediately, my heart sank.
“Why would you do that?!” I questioned her. “You are so blessed!” She went off on how all the people in her life are “fags,” uncaring and unloving people. Once she mentioned her parents, I thought of my friend Katie Mullen who lost both her parents in her early teenage years, and I tried to tell this girl that at least she has parents. She told me that she wish she didn’t have parents and that she tried to kill herself once. I was so broken-hearted that I didn’t know what to say. My mind was racing. I couldn’t say “Jesus loves you” because that would be stupid. That’s a horrible way to present the gospel and would turn her off. All I could say was “I hope and pray that you see how blessed you truly are.” She just said, “If I had a penny for every time I heard that…” So, she wrapped up the conversation and went to give me a high five. I gave her one and held her hand for a second and didn’t want to let it go… I didn’t want her to just leave like that, but I had no idea what to say. As I let her hand go and she walked away, my heart sank even more.
I sat there completely devastated, absolutely caught off guard by all that she said and what just happened. I felt so bad for her. Sympathy overwhelmed me as I held back tears. I wanted to show her the love of Christ, without sounding like an idiot.. in a way that would intrigue her to the gospel. In awe, I sat there pondering what was God’s purpose in this situation? To show me my sympathy for those in pain? To show me it (God’s Kingdom) is much greater than I? To show me that I must reach out? I prayed for an answer. I prayed for her. I prayed for Him to bring her back. I was not yet done. I wanted to listen to her.
The rest of our time there I fought tears as I continued to look around me for that girl. I didn’t even get so much as a name, but she will never be just some girl. She will be to me a broken girl, who is in crucial need for the love of Christ. From this, I have a resurrected desire to reach out to the youth in pain. Too often are we “preaching to the choir,” using Christianity to make ourselves and fellow Christians feel better about themselves. I’ve forgotten that we are called to expand the Kingdom of God to all people. It’s time for me to work on my gospel gameplan. Next time… I want to be prepared.