Grace to the Rescue
Grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, God allows the richness of salvation to enter our believing souls and pen our names into the Book of Life. But His grace also touches us in everyday living allowing us to see His attributes in action, His kindness in motion, and His redemption through second chances. I am keenly aware of God’s grace in pivotal moments of my life. Today, I am reminded of the events from one year ago that restored a 35-year-old friendship and saved the life of a dear friend.
The Birth of a Friendship
Susan and I met in the laboratory at work. A botched blood collection opened the door for me to invite her on an overnight camping trip while my husband was out of town. The camping trip was disastrous, but my plan worked to get to know her better.
For the next two decades, Susan and I became close friends. We laughed at lab mishaps, helped each other through graduate school, struggled through job issues, celebrated milestone birthdays, went on beach vacations, and took care of each other’s dogs. Our friendship was one of mutual respect, love, joy, and sacrifice.
Little did we know a simple foot surgery would have such significance upon our friendship. A cascade of complications and the subsequent effects of pain medications ultimately prompted Susan into a forced retirement. I watched as she decimated her body and mind doubling in size, gobbling down comfort food and pain pills. I grieved as our phone conversations became less and less and her isolation, more and more. She found reasons not to go places with me or do things together like we used to. She either got sick or was in pain that day. She had no idea of the heartache I was going through. I finally quit asking.
For years I prayed for healing as she continued to battle open wounds, compromised mobility, and chronic pain. I prayed for her to move out of her house away from the stairs that attributed to her falling. I prayed for reconciliation of our friendship, and I prayed for grace and perseverance to deal with her now-obstinate behavior.
Susan’s house slowly turned into a hoarded disaster along with our friendship. What happened to my good-natured, humorous friend? What happened to the aspiring female sports official bound for a promising SEC future? But more than anything – what happened to our friendship?
A Night to Remember
My phone rang on a Sunday night around 7 pm. Susan’s mother was calling to tell me she had been unable to get in touch with Susan. I tried calling several times but, no answer. Around 10 pm I drove out to her house.
I unlocked the front door and forced it open pushing through the trash. I bumbled down the hallway slipping on plastic bottles towards the bedroom. I found her sitting in a pile of trash slumped over on the floor in front of a chair. Her right arm was bent behind her. I thought it must surely be broken.
Her bugged eyes looked right through me and she began jerking her legs back and forth. I told her I was calling 9-1-1. Paramedics arrived within minutes and took her to the nearby hospital. I waited in the ER until 3 AM despite the fact I had a Book Club meeting at my house later that morning.
Susan was admitted to NICU with severe dehydration. She had not eaten in days and had likely been on the floor for more than 24 hours. We will never know if she would have survived the night. But we definitely knew that God allowed me to find her.
The Turning Point
Susan spent ten days in the hospital plus three more weeks in a rehabilitation facility. Her care was in my hands since her family lived hours away and was unavailable. I spent hours on the phone attending to medical, financial, physical, and legal needs. People asked me why I was doing it. Eventually anger welled up within me at Susan, the house, the massive amount of time, the whole situation. God would have to change my heart. His grace summoned me reminding me of the love that once defined our friendship.
I solicited the help of my friend Sharon to clean out the house. Secretly, I had always been relieved to think it would fall upon her sister but no. Sharon and I met almost every day for five months wearing masks and gloves at first, not because of the virus, but because of the smell! We did the impossible according to skeptics. We completely overhauled the house combing through every closet, every cobweb, and every paper. It was during that time, I unknowingly contracted COVID-19 from my husband. My fatigue was worse than when I had cancer. Still, I had a job to do and managed to move Susan into an assisted living facility. (She has only vague memories of the ordeal, which is a blessing.)
We sold Susan’s house within a few days. Praise God, she never looked back with resentment, sentimentality, or sadness. Her health improved so dramatically that she moved from assisted living into independent living after only two months. Her pain is no more. Her weight has dropped to normal. Her personality has been revived. Our friendship has been renewed. My persistent prayers of long ago were answered. God performed a most amazing miracle in a most unusual way. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15).
After more than ten years, Susan and I are back to laughing, talking and enjoying life together. We know the reason: God’s miraculous grace.