After finding out her boyfriend was addicted to drugs, she felt lost and abandoned until she met these considerate strangers.
- Posted on Jun 18, 2018
It had been a long day at work, and all I wanted was to relax, maybe wind down with a movie and wait for my boyfriend to come home. That afternoon we’d had a silly text exchange that turned into an argument. No big deal, but I wanted to clear it up. As I was going through some DVDs, a foil packet covered in black ashy markings tumbled out of one of the cases. My heart practically stopped. I unfolded the foil. Familiar white pills spilled into my trembling hand. OxyContin. They were his. Who else could they belong to?
I loved him. We had our whole lives to look ahead to, together. I’d met him two years earlier, when I was 17. I came from a really messed-up home. He came from a good one. I had dropped out of school, run away and started using drugs. He was my lifeline, my savior. I’d quit drugs, gone back to school and was working in a law office. We moved in together. I trusted him as much as I had ever been able to trust anyone in my life. Except that maybe, somewhere deep inside me, I’d suspected that something was wrong all along. Now I knew.
I called him immediately, desperate for an explanation—something, anything to make it all right again. Instead he broke down and admitted that he had been using drugs for our whole relationship and lied about it. I asked him if he was ready to quit. He hesitated. There was a long pause.
“Don’t come home,” I said. “Don’t even think about it.” Then I hung up.
I’d never felt so alone. Why did everyone in my life betray me? My mother was an alcoholic. She’d hide out in her bedroom and drink, claiming she had a headache. She was always on that other side of the door, literally and figuratively. Still, I never needed her more than I needed her now. I picked up the phone and called her, barely able to get the words out.
“Well,” she said, interrupting me, “you can’t come live here.”
“Mom, that’s not what I’m asking!”
“Honey, I don’t feel well. Call back later.”
The line went dead. What was so wrong with me that no one was there when I needed them? For the first time in my life, I got down on my knees and prayed. Why am I so alone?
Just then the phone rang. It was my dad. “Hi, honey. It’s been a while since we talked,” he said.
My dad and I were not on particularly good terms, though we’d been trying lately. He had anger issues. He left my mom when I was young. I couldn’t remember the last time he called me out of the blue. He sounded concerned, so we agreed to meet at a restaurant just down the street from me.
He was already waiting in a booth with a cup of coffee. “You’ve been crying,” he said. Again that concerned tone. I just didn’t know if I could trust it.
I let it rip. I told him about my boyfriend’s secret drug stash, how I’d kicked him out and now I was all alone. I started crying again.
His face darkened. “You really know how to mess things up, don’t you?” he said. Just like that his mood changed. He told me I would never get anything right, that I’d ruined his life when I was a kid. Customers glanced at us. I wanted to crawl under the table. I couldn’t believe it. There were unresolved things about our relationship—but was now the time to bring them up?
“Dad,” I finally said, “I’m not a child anymore. I do not have to sit here and accept this treatment.” I stood up to leave. My whole body was shaking.
“Where are you going?” he yelled. I ran out the door. “You’re not getting away that easy!” he bellowed after me.
The restaurant was situated in the middle of a strip-mall parking lot lit by security lights. My dad followed me down the sidewalk. Then the shouting ended. I chanced a look back. He was walking off toward his car, muttering. Why had I thought things could be any different between us? Dumb.
I heard him drive off. There was nothing to do now but go home to my empty apartment. I started walking again. Maybe my dad was right. Maybe I was just a loser.
“Wait!” someone called. I didn’t know if the voice was directed at me, so I kept on. “Wait!” This time it was multiple voices. I turned to see two girls and a guy coming toward me. They looked to be about my age. “Hey, you all right?” one of the girls asked. “We saw you leave the restaurant, and that man following you and yelling. Your dad, right?” I nodded.
“Want to tell us about it?” the boy asked. His voice was soft, kind. I stayed quiet. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk,” the second girl said. She was pretty and had a warm smile. I started to thank them, totally intending to move on. All at once everything came out, all my troubles and fears. “I’ve got nobody,” I said. “What am I going to do? I’m so alone.”
“You’re not alone,” the second girl said. What did she mean?
“We go to school near here, a Christian college,” she said. “We just took a break from studying to get some pie and coffee.”
“Actually, we don’t normally come here,” the guy added. “It’s a little far. Then we saw you in the restaurant and thought you might need a shoulder to cry on. I hope you don’t think we’re sticking our noses into your business.” I shook my head and sniffled. The sodium lights of the parking lot made us all look a little greenish, but inside I felt warm and cared for.
“Here, wait a second,” the first girl said. She ran back to their car and returned with a leather-bound Bible. They took turns writing their names and phone numbers on the inside cover. “Take this and remember—God never betrays you. He loves you and so do we.”
“Let’s pray,” the other girl said. We all held hands. Their grips were firm and reassuring. I felt myself relax. A calmness such as I had never known came over me.
“Lord, thank you for bringing us here to help this girl. Please let her know that there is always hope and that she is never alone.”
These good strangers, so different from the people in my life. “You’re so kind,” I said, wiping my eyes. We all hugged, right there in the parking lot, traffic roaring by on the highway. They offered to give me a lift home, but I told them I needed some time to myself. I started walking, slowly. An empty apartment waited for me, and a mess of a situation to handle, but somehow I knew for certain that I wouldn’t have to go through it all alone.
Over time, my dad and I worked on improving our relationship. We both had to give a little. I never saw the three students again, but I read that Bible cover to cover. My boyfriend got help for his addiction, and after a couple of years apart we got back together and eventually married. Now we’re the happy parents of a one-year-old boy. Of course, there are still times when I feel life has turned on me. But I always remember that moment in the strip-mall parking lot, the three strangers and the incredible calmness that washed over me. I know that the Lord is always there for me when and where I need him the most.
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In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader