This is the tale of two women, the day God decided they needed to meet, and the morning they learned why.
It was a lazy Saturday morning in February, and my husband and I were laying in bed sipping coffee while we leaned into one another and let time drift by with little conversation. We had nowhere to be, so we were going to take our time getting there.
Finally, at 10:30AM, our stomachs began growling. We decided to forgo some of the routine regimes of basic hygiene and see if we could find some breakfast. Simply put: we skipped showering to go eat eggs.
We drove to a quaint little restaurant up the road in Agritopia, but he line at The Coffee Shop was out the door. We didn’t want to wait in a long line–waiting in a long line in Agritopia was far from Utopian and seemed like an oxymoron. We pushed down the growling in our stomachs and decided to drive further from home to an equally quaint little area and eat at The Farm House.
What we didn’t know was downtown Gilbert was hosting their popular farmer’s market. The wait at The Farm House was over an hour. It was now 11:13AM. Starvation was imminent.
Right next to The Farm House we saw another restaurant, Liberty Market.
Liberty Market was equal in its quaintness, therefore it was equally popular, but waiting no longer mattered. We were hungry and as uninviting as it was to think of waiting in a long line, it was more uninviting to think of tearing my teeth into my husband’s flesh to find nourishment. (Refer to earlier in the post where I stated WE DID NOT SHOWER. Even zombies should maintain health standards when it comes to food consumption.)
We lined up behind approximately twenty-five other zombies, equally hungry but equally unimpressed with the idea of eating their mate. We had been standing in line for less than one minute when a gentleman, most likely the restaurant manager, approached my husband and I and said, “If you don’t want to wait in this line any longer, there are a couple seats at the cappuccino bar. You can sit there and order anything you’d like from the menu.”
It seemed a little awkward, as there were other couples in line in front of us who should have been given the opportunity rather than us, but in the name of hunger–we moved quickly. We took two of the three remaining seats at the cappuccino bar and ordered some over-medium, biscuit and gravy deliciousness. While we waited we powered down two cups of dark coffee. Life was slowly starting to make sense again.
Sarah* woke with a yearning for a specialty cup of coffee. Before going to bed the night before she had been pinning pictures of cappuccino novelties to her Pinterest board. When she woke the next morning she was craving a cappuccino reminiscent of one she had once had in Rome.
Her husband was working on a big project over the weekend, and her teenage children were busy being teenagers. As she approached Liberty Market she planned to get her specialty coffee to go. She thought maybe she would take it someplace quiet and read. As she was walking towards the restaurant she had a strong feeling she should go back to her car and get her book. She felt like God was prompting her to sit at the cappuccino bar and read.
Sarah was only sitting next to me for a few moments when she caught me looking at her. She felt me looking at her cute coffee drink and she felt my eyes reading the title of her book. She saw me looking at her and she smiled.
It wasn’t long before Sarah was engaged in a conversation with both my husband and me. We spoke of the church she attends, and mentioned the one we attend. My husband and she talked of towns they had each visited on their respective trips to Italy. She shared of their family’s relocation from the Midwest to the desert. We talked of raising teens to young adults, and the intricacies of dating your spouse in the wake of ever changing lifestyles.
This meeting alone wouldn’t suffice to be an act of serendipity. The idea of three adults conversing at a cappuccino bar is not unusual. The unusual thing is what was happening to me. I could barely speak. I was tongue tied, and it was more than just a feeling of inadequacy or shyness. I had a strong feeling of grief and joy. I feared opening my mouth to speak. I feared no words would come. I feared I would cry for no reason. This woman was filled with so much joy and love. Grace poured out, and it was a magnet drawing me to her. Knowing the path my husband and I had traveled to end up seated at this cappuccino bar made the meeting feel ordained.
It’s hard to remember everything we had said, or how exactly it had happened, but by the time we left Liberty Market we had exchanged cell phone numbers. When I arrived home I wrote the beginning of this blog.
And God said, “Wait.”
Suddenly, I was compelled to stop writing. I knew I had experienced something wonderful, but I also knew God was telling me, “Not yet. Not now.” I have learned that being obedient to God is all that is required. If I am chasing after Him in obedience, nothing can touch me.
Weeks passed, and on most days I forgot about meeting the stranger at the cappuccino bar. Sarah had mentioned starting a new job, and I was busier than ever with house guests, working, and writing. I still had her cell number, but I didn’t consider actually contacting her.
Last week Sarah sent me a text asking if I wanted to get together, and my initial thought was, “No.”
It wasn’t a question of her value. Without meeting her for a second time, I was already certain she would be a wonderful addition to anyone’s life. However, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to open myself up to her. After several weeks of thinking about our encounter, the event had lost its luster. Initially, I was inspired by the way it had unfolded, now, almost four weeks later; it was just three people who talked while they drank coffee. “People meet all the time, what’s the big deal?” I said to myself.
Plus I imagined the way it might go if we were to meet. Her heart would shine bright and I would see a strong charitable woman. I would leave feeling inspired by her, but equally ashamed of the reality of choices I’ve made. If we became friends eventually I would have to decide if I wanted to foster transparency and let her see what post-infidelity looks like on a Christian woman. In that moment I would see who she was. While she may want to accept me for who I am, she may struggle. Sexual sin assaults the senses of many. What if she were to decide I wasn’t worth the struggle?
But, there was another part of me that wondered. What if it was arranged, ordained, planned? What if God had decided we should meet? Was I ignoring a uniquely wrapped gift?
Yesterday morning Sarah and I met at Liberty Market. I ordered pancakes and she introduced me to a cute little coffee drink.
It probably won’t be a surprise to read that I shared a brief version of what my husband, my family and I have gone through over the last year. I could elaborate on how the conversation weaved to that point and I could evaluate my own motives, but none of that is the point.
Reading that Sarah responded with grace when I mentioned the affair probably won’t surprise you either. After all, you already like her. I told you she was special and you want us to become friends. You have been rooting for us to connect from the beginning of this post.
Without knowing hardly a thing about Sarah, you want her for me. Now, what if you were God and you knew everything about every person alive? Do you think you would ever desire that certain people meet?
Sarah listened to what I shared and handed me a napkin for my tears. She told me she was sorry. She stared across the table with the loveliest light eyes and went on to tell me that her marriage had also been touched by infidelity.
My heart sank. First for her: she knew. Second for me: I didn’t want to look in those light eyes when I heard her say that her husband had been unfaithful.
But Sarah didn’t tell me a story of an unfaithful husband. She told me instead the story of an unfaithful wife. She maintained eye contact with me when she told me that she, too, had once chosen to be unfaithful to a really good man.
The rest of the conversation was a mixture of private thoughts and encouragement. But beneath it all, and woven into each thought was a feeling of awe. We serve a God who knows us intimately and quite often He handpicks people and orchestrates serendipitous events to give us the gift of one another. We only need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and available and we will usually find something good without even looking.
*Sarah’s name was changed to protect her privacy. Thank you for reading.