I watched the three of them. One with porcelain beauty, shy, reserved, made nervous by my boisterous veneer and hard-partying reputation.
One a song-bird, singing and humming her way through Christian tunes I didn’t quite recognize. I remember thinking she seemed to glide down the hallway on some current of joy on her way to her dorm room. She was bright and shiny, bubbling over with kind and happy, all from some hidden source within.
And one who came knocking on my door, persistent, intentional, dogged in her pursuit of me. She wouldn’t let up when I lied about being too busy to go to a Bible study. For months and months she invited. I began to hide when I heard her coming down the hall. When she’d catch me unawares and invite, I’d lie. I knew she knew I was lying, and she knew I knew she knew I was lying. But she didn’t seem to care. She kept coming back.
It’s been 32 years, but grateful tears still spring up at my snapshot memories of them. They were the women God used to bring me to Him. The women He brought across my path.
Observing and wanting what they had
To them, I may have appeared confident and cavalier. My carefully constructed veneer didn’t allow my inner cracks to show through. But the fissures were there. And they were growing. These women God used didn’t know it at the time, but their lives made me hungry. And hopeful.
Hungry, because the bread I was feeding on was stale and moldy, and I was beginning to feel as if I might die. Hopeful, because watching them, I began to wonder if I could have whatever it was they had.
Could there be more for me than the vicious cycle? It always began with pretending (and a squishing down of the fear of failure), moved to a flurry of attaining (a new boyfriend, or a coveted honor, or a position promising the approval and acclaim that I hoped would finally bring inner peace), but inevitably ended with the same old fear and depression. I was caught in a snare.
But God. God placed them there.
One serene and introverted, one effervescent and extroverted, one intense and determined.
All so different. Yet. All the same. They shared one over-arching commonality, as far as my observing eye could determine. Each said she was a born-again Christian.
I didn’t really understand what that meant, and in fact, was scared to death by what I thought it meant. But I knew this: I wanted whatever it was they had. I wanted the true happy (they called it joy) that came from some source within. I wanted the compass they seemed to possess. I wanted whatever that source of inner peace was (they said it came from some sort of personal relationship with Jesus, who knew all my dark secrets, yet would love me anyway). What?
I tell you about them because I want you to know this:
Just as God used them, He might be planning to use you in a pretender’s life.
In her facade, her cover, she might seem uncrackable, assured, happy with her present situation. But she may really be hiding, pretending, self-protecting.
And she may be watching and wondering. Wondering how in the world your crazy beliefs (about a crucified Jewish man who rose from the dead thousands of years ago) give you the inner something she can’t quite name but knows she craves. Oh, I’d plead with you:
Be in her life. Be yourself. Seek her.
And don’t worry about needing to be a certain type believer. The three Christians I watched were as different as personalities get. But they each had Jesus. They were feeding on bread I craved. They had true hope. They were light, each in their own way.
And I was dying inside.
The one who doggedly pursued me did so for years. She didn’t believe my facade. She kept inviting. She had other Christians praying for me. She kept asking.
She was one of the first I wanted to tell after God brought me to my knees (literally) in a far away hotel room. I wanted to tell her thank you. I wanted to say thanks for not quitting in her pursuit of veneered me. I wanted to say thank you for introducing me to Jesus, whose Light drew me, and exposed me, and saved me.
I wanted to tell her thank you for being the person God used in this pretender’s life.
You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Top photo: Samford Hall, Auburn University, by Robert S. Donovan