A Golden Opportunity
God is Good. All the time. He knows the desires of my heart even when I don’t.
Tonight was the closing reception of the conference I’ve been attending. It’s a 3 hour event for about 2,000 folks in the hospitality industry, an open bar and a drawing for a $10,000 cash prize. Of course, you have to be present to win. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use with an extra 10 grand magically appearing in my bank account. I came downstairs fully intending to suffer through this event full of drunken fools on the off chance that my name would be plucked from the hopper… but God had other plans.
I was a bit early, so I sat down and struck up a conversation with a woman seated outside. She was a flight attendant on a layover, not a conference attendee, and so was completely oblivious to the evening’s revelry next door. Our conversation quickly moved toward spiritual matters and we were both enjoying each others’ company. I thought, “Well, I’ll kill some time here with her. I’m sure there will still be food if I show up a little late [I had not had dinner yet] and I won’t have to suffer the drunks so long.” As our conversation continued, we both slowly revealed that we were each in some sort of recovery program. Mine, a more traditional one and hers a Southern Baptist twist on a 12 step program serving as a catch-all for all manner of negative behaviors.
We traded Bible stories as they related to our lives (both of us expressing our love of Job’s story, of course) and became more and more comfortable opening up about the hurtful experiences of our past and those that we are still struggling with. She was very well versed in the Bible and taught me stories that I was not very familiar with – and she told them in the same way I tell them. In my retelling of Jonah’s story, God tells Jonah, “Get your ass to Nineveh!” She told me about how Samson was a “douchebag.” We had some major differences, but we spoke the same language and we were open to learning from each other. Pride got in our way a couple of times, but each time we quickly set it aside as we could feel that something important was happening here.
She was riddled with resentment toward a certain woman and slowly began unfolding a story which proved that she had every right to be angry. She had been grievously wronged and would be living with the consequences of this woman’s past and continued actions for the rest of her life. If I were in her position… I honestly don’t know how I would handle the situation she was in. I had experience in similar matters, though, and I was able to share what I have been through. Moreover, I understood the power of resentment in an alcoholic mind. I knew that if she was unable to get some peace regarding this circumstance then this resentment had the power to kill her.
As deep conversations between strangers are wont to do, ours drifted in and out of the harsher subjects until we were able to trust each other with our real truth. We shared stories about our kids, our friends, our childhoods, people in our lives that were way crazier than we were, etc. Eventually, we came to that place where those of us in recovery get to when we’re ready to heal – we exposed the fear and the lies that had been controlling us. As she justified her anger toward this woman, I was able to lay some heavy truths on her. One of these evoked a visceral reaction in her and I instinctively cringed, fearing I’d crossed a line. She shook her head, though, and told me that this was not the first time she’d been told the same thing. Yes, knowing and doing are two completely different things. The lie had been exposed and the truth had been accepted.
All around us, the foot traffic had increased. I looked up and asked someone, “Is it all over? Did they do the drawing?” Yes, I had missed the whole event. I had blown off the night’s dinner and dancing as well as my chance at the $10,000. Granted, it was a long shot…. But even if my name had been drawn I still feel that the gift I was given in being able to help this woman in need was worth far more than any amount of prize money. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.