I would sit wide-eyed every time my boyfriend, Trey, would tell me his hair-raising stories about how scary his former meth dealer was. Hopped up on meth, he was prone to fits of rage and ran his business by strangulation, crowbar, pistol, duck tape—whatever he could get hands on to intimidate and get what he wanted. It was hard for both of us to believe a guy like him really existed. He was right out of the movies.
For me, the best part was that every time Trey would tell another tale—and there were lots of them—it was confirmation that his stint as a meth addict was really over, as if he was looking back into a life he had left behind. Three months after we had begun seeing each other, I found his meth pipe and I told him that as a mother to a toddler, there was no way we could stay together. He said all he needed to do to leave that life behind was to move away from South Bay and the pressure of his friends. I believed him. I had a drug past as well.
He stayed with me until he got on his feet and settled into his new life apart from meth. We started going to the Rock and I was finally growing in my relationship with God and as impossible as it initially seemed, my former meth addict boyfriend was too. Three years later, things were going really good between us.
That is why it was so surprising that somewhere in my head was a little voice that kept saying that I should no longer be with Trey. He was handsome and good to me and was making every effort to be all that I wanted. He had even beaten his meth addiction for me. Yet there it was. “It’s over. Walk away,” the voice kept saying.
We were at the Rock one Sunday morning and Pastor Miles said, “Right now some of you are sitting next to people you shouldn’t be sitting next to.” I started sweating so hard I thought Trey would have to move seats from all the heat. It took me a month to summon the courage but finally I told Trey I had to break up with him. It was awful. We cried and stared at each other in disbelief but I knew God was calling me to a closer walk with Him. And that is exactly what happened.
Soon after, a friend began telling me that I should apply for a job opening at the Rock. I knew for certain the Rock wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have a degree. I must have told her no 10 times. When she mentioned that employees received a discount for their kids at the Rock Academy, I suddenly realized why she wouldn’t take no for an answer: I had been praying for some time that God would allow me to send my son to a private school. It appeared God was arranging the pieces.
I prayed, I applied, I interviewed and prayed some more. When the Rock offered me the position, I went to my room, fell on my knees and cried like a baby. God had spoken loudly to move me away from Trey and now He was doing it again. I was beaming like a 100-watt bulb.
God was fulfilling all my needs as well as the desires of my heart. He seemed to be showing me that all I really needed was Him. The Rock was a dream job and I began making life-long friends immediately. Months were going by and I liked my life and job more every day.
I was in my office one afternoon and felt like I could use some coffee. I got up to go to the kitchen located at the far corner of the Rock offices. As I made the walk, I began to pray. “Dear God, I can’t thank you enough for all the ways You have blessed me in this season of my life. And the best thing of all is that You have removed all distractions. I can keep my eyes completely on You. I mean, there’s not one guy here that I’m even slightly attracted to…”
Suddenly, I watched a guy as he walked down the hall.
“…except for him.”
He was wearing blue Nike shoes, a matching shirt, Dickies shorts and sporting a shaved head—it was the bad boy style that I had always been drawn to.
“What am I doing?!” I chided as I caught myself staring. “Stop that right now!”
I got a drink of water and leaned against the counter deep in thought about what just happened. “Oh, no,” I said under my breath.
I immediately felt drawn to him. Horrified, I abruptly turned and walked to the kitchen. I got a drink of water and leaned against the counter deep in thought about what just happened. I had just felt a wave of attraction to a man whose face I hadn’t even seen.
“Oh, no,” I said under my breath.
A few days later there was a knock on my door. It was him—the same guy with the shaved head, wearing Dickies shorts and matching shirt and shoes. Awful news—he was handsome. I gulped. I fumbled a few papers as I stood. “Can I help you?”
“Hi, I’m Greg from Facilities. I’m here to fix the hole in the wall,” he said, his blue eyes looking into mine.
“Over there,” I said too loudly and pointing to the wall too emphatically. He walked over and began to assess the situation. Nope, I thought to myself. I don’t like him. Not at all. I’m fine just the way I am. There’s absolutely no attraction. I sat down to resume my work.
Through the corner of my eye, I looked at him again.
In the days that followed, I prayed with all my might that God would take this from me. “I don’t want to like him. Please,” I begged God. “Not him. Not now. I’m already in love with You!”
My next course of action was to learn all the reasons not to like him—there had to be plenty. A week later, I happened to walk into the elevator with him and I heard him say to someone else that he had been a Christian just a short time.
Ah ha! I thought to myself. I need a guy that’s super strong in the Lord!
Then he mentioned that he just finished the Iron Man program, the ultra-rigorous spiritual training.
I had a full list of red flags—things that I knew would knock him out of contention for my heart. But one by one, the more I got to know Greg, the shorter that list became. I was running out of excuses.
Of course, none of my fears would be realized as long as he showed no interest in me, and so far, as sweet as he was to me when we spoke, he showed none—at least nothing that was overt. “Thank you, God!” I exclaimed—but did I really mean it?
A lot of us at the Rock would meet for dinner whenever we could and chat the night away. I had included Greg on some email blast invitations and he always responded that he wasn’t interested. OK, I thought. If he was interested in me, he’d come.
Then one day, he showed up at my office door with a cupcake and handed it to me
Then one day, he showed up at my office door with a cupcake and handed it to me. “What’s this?” I asked him.
“Well,” he said rather embarrassed, “I saw a cupcake on the back table by the kitchen and after I picked it up and ate it, I closed the box and on the box it said ‘save for Sarah’s son'. I’m really sorry, I ate your son’s cupcake.”
He had run to the store to get a replacement cupcake for my son. It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. He looked at me with his soft eyes and I stood speechless. I stammered a thank you and went back to my desk to sit down. “Oh, that’s just great, Lord. Just when I was starting to believe he had no interest in me. Now this!”
A bunch of us, organized by my buddy Nick, were going to go see a movie and then to Chili’s after work. I sent a text to Greg to see if he wanted to join us. It was bold, but I had had it. I had to know if there was something to this thing. Months had gone by and I still didn’t know where this was leading. I felt the need to give the issue a nudge. I certainly couldn’t be in limbo forever.
Of course, once again, he said he didn’t think he would come. Whatever, I thought.
Later that night, we were all sitting at the Chili’s chatting away. Nick was sitting across from me doing nearly all of the talking. He was telling me some story about something—but my mind was lost in all the confusion of where I found myself these days, desperate to be alone with God but inundated with thoughts and feelings for a guy I didn’t want to think about. I’m too old for this, I thought as I shook my head.
Just then I got a text. It was from Greg. “Are you still at Chili’s?”
Nick was in midsentence when I stood up. “I have to go!” I blurted. I immediately grabbed my things and walked away with Nick’s mouth still open.
I rushed out the door, my heart pounding. “Can you meet me at Starbucks?” I texted.
“Sure,” he replied.
He drove up just a few agonizing moments later. “It’s closed for remodeling,” I told him. “Would you like to meet me for coffee at iHop?”
“OK,” he said from his car window, looking a little confused.
I drove ahead of him. Dear Lord, what am I doing, what am I doing?
I pulled into the parking lot of the iHop trying to make sense of my actions. When I met him in front of the restaurant, I had a slight urge to apologize. What sense did any of this make?
As we were about to sit down at the iHop, he asked me, “So what happened with Chili’s?”
A cold sweat broke over me. I hadn’t thought up anything to say in response to that. My eyes darted around frantically in search of an answer. “Well,” I said, “You’re really the only one I wanted to talk to anyway.”
My eyes shot wide open and my body stopped in the middle of sitting down. What did I just say? I looked at Greg and his reaction was much the same, like, did she say what I think she just said?
I excused myself to go to the restroom and when I got inside I immediately went straight to the mirror to yell at it.
I excused myself to go to the restroom and when I got inside I immediately went straight to the mirror to yell at it. “Are you crazy? What are you doing saying something like that? Could you be any stupider?”
Before I left the restroom, I felt the need to remind God one more time, “Lord, You have to confirm that this is of You. I am not going to be with anybody that I don’t feel You have set before me.”
I went back out to our booth and sat down. This is where I was going to act like nothing that just happened, just happened. “So,” I said with a nonchalant flick of my hair, “where are you from?”
“South Bay,” Greg replied.
“Oh, really? I used to date a guy from South Bay named Trey.”
“I used to know a guy from South Bay named Trey.”
“You did? Was his name Trey Rickenbacher?”
“Yes, it was.”
“What? How did you know him?”
“I used to sell him dope.”
My heart jumped. I looked at him a moment.
“Meth?” I asked.
Suddenly, mind-blown as I was, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that we were both supposed to be there at that very moment, that it was God who was orchestrating the stare that we shared. We were two new creatures in Christ looking into the future as we looked at each other.
All at once, everything about my drug past, all the stuff I hoped to never have to reveal, seemed to be out on the table without me ever having to say a word. Our booth suddenly felt like God’s hand.
Two hours later, an iHop employee was vacuuming around our feet as we closed the place down that night. Greg walked me out to my car and when we said goodnight, we hugged. It felt like I was being welcomed into a new life.
I got on the freeway, trying to put the pieces of the night together, to make sure that what just happened, just happened. It was 12:30AM. My phone rang.
“It’s Greg. I just have to hear your voice.”
Sarah learned that on the day that Pastor Miles said, “Some of you are sitting next to people you shouldn’t be sitting next to,” Greg was also in the audience sitting with his girlfriend and felt he, too, was being spoken to. He broke up with her a short time later. Greg and Sarah were married eight months after that night at iHop. They will celebrate their fourth anniversary in November.