a few years ago around october, it was just starting to get really cold for the season. It was my first year away at college, and my boyfriend was still in high school. I missed him a lot, and I missed playing my favorite sport, soccer. So, when he texted me that he could see the skyline of the city I now lived in from his away soccer game, I decided to plan a spontaneous trip to the nearby town to watch him play.
His phone had died, and he had no idea I was coming. Perfect opportunity for a surprise, I thought.
The problem was that I was 17, and I was new to the city, and more importantly, I was new to busses. Thankfully though, it looked to me like I could get from my dorm, to the school pretty easily, with only a three minute walk on each end of the stops. So, with my “Ligonier Soccer” gear on and a coffee mug in hand, I headed out, confident in my perfect, secret plan.
The bus was pretty crowded when I got on, and it was heading out of town in a direction I hadn’t been before. A few miles outside of town, I got up and asked the bus driver which stop I should get off at in order to get as close to the soccer fields as possible.
A young woman in the seat behind me shyly interrupted. She was about thirty, with kind eyes and rosy cheeks. She told me that there weren't any stops near the soccer fields, and even if I got off at the closest one, it would be a 30 minute walk alone in a not-so-nice area. It was getting dark, and she told me that if I got off with her, she would drive me there herself, because she didn’t want to see me put myself in that situation.
"Wow," I thought. I ran through all the times I was told not to get in the car with strangers as a child, and decided this was a pretty good time to break the rule. I agreed, and Stephanie and I got off the bus together.
We proceeded to her car, and I told her I was going to surprise my boyfriend at his soccer game. I was obviously excited, but Stephanie’s face fell. As we drove off toward the school, she told me through choked back tears that her boyfriend had just broken up with her the day before, because he had met another woman. She confessed to me that she had spent her day at work that day hiding in the bathroom soaked in tears, and that she couldn't help but feel absolutely worthless.
What a weird way for Jesus to bring someone to light. This woman, who was blessing me with protection from the otherwise dark and scary streets of an unknown town, may have needed me just as much as I needed her.
I told Stephanie about Jesus and how He had a plan for her life, that her boyfriend was obviously an idiot to let go of such a kind soul, and that she was worth so much more than what she was giving herself credit for.
When we arrived at the soccer fields, Stephanie programmed her number into my phone. She told me to call her when the game was over, and she would come pick me up and drive me all the way back to the city.
I felt like I was taking advantage of Stephanie, so I reassured her that I could get a cab and I would be okay, (although I really didn’t want to pay for a cab to take me all that way,) Stephanie insisted.
After the game was over, and I had talked to my boyfriend for a few minutes, I called Stephanie. Soon enough, she pulled up outside the gates ready to make the drive back into the city. On the way home, I talked to Stephanie more about her life, what she wanted to do with herself, where she saw herself in five years, and I even found out her favorite color (purple). When Stephanie dropped me off, I felt like I owed her something, for going out of her way to show me ridiculous amounts of selflessness and kindness. She couldn’t have been happier to do me the favor in exchange for nothing at all.
I think that’s kind of how Jesus works too. In fact, that's exactly how Jesus works. Even when we don’t know we need protecting, He’s there to keep us safe. And He asks nothing in exchange for His perfect love, only that we would love Him back.
After that night, I sent Stephanie a few messages here and there, but we haven't talked in about a year. I still think about her all the time, though. She is the kind of person Jesus calls us to be. She has a servant heart, and she taught me a little bit more about what it looks like to be spreading Christ throughout His kingdom. I don’t think she knows that I think about her, I don’t know if she even remembers who I am. But I sure do remember her, and I think that’s what this whole life thing is about, right? Impacting people in ways they aren't going to forget, showing them Jesus’ love without restraints, taking a step out of your comfort zone to show someone else they are worth it.
So Stephanie, I don’t know what you've been up to lately, if your boyfriend came to his senses, or if you're with someone new now. I don’t know if you're happy with your job or where you are at this point in your life, but I want to say thank you for being there for me. Thank you for blessing me on the bus three Octobers ago, you are loved! (p.s. these pictures have nothing to do with the article, they just make me happy)