Never too far away.
“Heather…? It’s Kallie!” The voice on the other end of the line was extremely excited to be speaking to me. “How are you!? I miss you so much… I’m so happy you’re coming to my wedding! I can’t wait to see you!! And your mom is coming too? Ohhh. Myyy. Goodnessss!! I’m SO excited!!” She chattered on and on about how thrilled she was.
I was happy to hear her voice, too. It had been years. Several, long years since I had talked to her. And even more years had passed since I had seen her in person. I recalled the last time I saw her – the memories came flooding back – she was heading back towards our neighborhood, walking across the main road with her boyfriend. She had a plaid mini-skirt on, her beautiful strawberry-blonde hair was cut a little shorter than shoulder-length, her makeup was heavy, high-top boots, black nail polish. I waved to her… but she didn’t see me. Her boyfriend was head-to-toe dressed in gothic-style clothing: oversized, baggy black pants with pockets and chains covering almost every square inch of them; his hair was black, long, and matted; he had chains and necklaces hanging around his neck and wrists; his fingernails painted black. I remember thinking that she could do so much better than that… she was settling for less than she deserved! I started crying.
“Oh, Heather! I can’t wait to see you! I figured Sadie wouldn’t be able to come since she lives several states away… but YOU are coming! I told Tim all about you! When I got your RSVP back in the mail, I started screaming and jumping up and down in my living room!!” Her excited conversation snapped me out of the reminiscing state I had drifted into. We shared small-talk and remembered some of the “good times” growing up for a few minutes, and then she changed the topic of discussion – her voice turned serious as well.
“Heather, I wanted to tell you… well, growing up you were always so strong in your faith and you never wavered from what you believed… well, I found comfort in what you had even though I didn’t have it for myself. I wanted to let you know that over the past couple years, well… I found it. But it’s not the same as what you have. I found a religion that gives me peace, but it’s not Christianity. Tim and I are Goddess Worshippers.” My eyebrows rose and my heart sank as she told me about this “religion” that she now follows and practices. “I just wanted you to know before you came to the wedding; I don’t want you and your mom to be offended or think that I’m mocking what you believe, because I’m not. I want you to come to my wedding… you mean so much to me, and I have so much respect for your family. Your family was nothing but nice to me – you never did anything that wasn’t kind! I just don’t want you to be offended that I’m not having a “Christian” wedding; it’s not going to be in a church, it’s going to be outside. I hope you’ll still be able to come…” She repeated over and over again how concerned she was about offending my family and our faith. I assured her that my mom and I would still come to her wedding, and we spoke for a few moments longer before we said our goodbyes.
Immediately following my conversation with Kallie I called my mother to let her know what was going on. Mom said that it wouldn’t hurt us to go to the wedding, that God has a reason for us going, and that it would be “interesting” to say the least. I was proud of myself holding myself together as well I did. Mom, on the other hand, began to cry. She composed herself, apologized for crying, and spoke these words to me: “She’s never too far away that the Lord can’t reach her.” Trying to maintain my composer, I shot out a quick “True” and told mom I had to get off the phone.
Just minutes later, I ran into a co-worker in the hallway at work… and I poured out my heart to her. Being the devout Catholic that she is, I really didn’t expect her to truly understand. She quoted one of those “Well, to each his own” kind of things after admitting she had no clue what a “Goddess Worshipper” was. Her apathetic attitude caused me to burst into tears – it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know any better.
Someone shared a verse with me earlier in response to something completely different, but it stuck with me and I claim it for this situation. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). The other verse I claim is this:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” ~ II Peter 3:9
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I went to the bathroom and and locked myself in a stall. I stood against the wall and prayed. I prayed for Kallie. I prayed for her wedding. I prayed for my testimony. I prayed for God’s will – in her life and in my life as well. If I don’t care for her soul on this earth, who will? If I’m not Christ-like in my words and actions in her life, than who will be? I don’t want to be the reason that she never meets the Lord as her Savior. I don’t want to be the one who sheds a poor testimony when my faith is put to the test. God loves Kallie and God wants to redeem Kallie to Himself from her sins. Maybe He will allow me to be the vessel through which He works.
Pray for me. Pray for Kallie. God knows.