An ongoing friendship with God requires our choice to be receptive to God’s hidden closeness in our lives. Auburn Sandstrom told her own true story of openness to the grace of God at The Moth, an organization dedicated to the art of storytelling. In 1992 Auburn was 29, the mother of a three-year-old son, caught in an abusive marriage and an addict. One night she hit rock bottom. She was writhing in pain on the floor of her filthy apartment wrestling with withdrawal from a drug she had been addicted to for several years. In her hand, she gripped a small piece of paper with a phone number on it of a Christian counselor her mother had given her in one of those rare moments of interaction. Finally, in total despair, she called the number. It rang. A man answered.
“Hi, I got this number from my mother. Do you think I could talk to you?”
The man hesitated, “Well, okay, what’s going on?”
For the first time, Auburn poured out her story. She told him that she was hurting, that her marriage was abusive and that she had a drug problem, that she was terrified. The man didn’t judge. He just sat with her and listened. Auburn was encouraged by his empathy and kindness. It was two in the morning. The man stayed up the whole night with Auburn, just talking, listening and being there until sunrise. By morning she had calmed down. The raw panic had passed. She was feeling stable.
She felt thankful, “Hey, I really appreciate what you’ve done for me tonight. Aren’t you supposed to be telling me to read some Bible verses or something? Because that’d be cool, I’ll do it, you know. It’s okay.
He laughed and said, “Well, I’m glad this was helpful to you.”
“No, really. You’re very good at this. You’ve helped me a lot. How long have you been a Christian Counselor?”
There was a long pause at the other end of the line. “Auburn, please don’t hang up.
I’ve been trying not to bring this up.”
“I’m so afraid to tell you this. But the number you called…” He paused again. “You got the wrong number.”
Auburn didn’t hang up. They talked a little longer. Auburn never got his name or called him back. She survived the night. She’s now a successful writer and teacher; she raised her little boy alone to become a wonderful athlete and scholar who graduated from Princeton. She concludes her story of that night.
“…the next day I felt this kind of joy, like I was shining. I think I’ve heard them call it ‘the peace that passes understanding.’ I had gotten to see that there was this completely random love in the universe. That it could be unconditional. And that some of it was for me…In the deepest, blackest night of despair, if you can get just one pinhole of light…all the grace comes rushing in.”*
What has been your “pinhole of light” where grace came rushing in?
*Story found in Connections, June, 2017, 1-2.
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Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!