Street Preaching

It’s strange sometimes how we end up bonding with people. With this friend, in particular, the first two times we really bonded with one another both involved drinking a little too much and stumbling around various downtowns in the early hours of the morning. Not really the sort of thing either of us is characterized by, so it’s odd that we have two stories of this sort.

She married one of my brother’s childhood friends; I never really expected of all the people I know, that he would be the one to bring a new friend into my world. But he married her, and brought someone new and important into my life. She’s honestly one of my favorite people–smart, careful, and honest. I like her because she will tell you what is true whether or not you want to hear it or agree with it. But she’ll do it in such a gracious and thoughtful way that you’ll feel compelled to listen and unwise to disregard it without serious contemplation.

The first of our adventures was in Sacramento with two other girls. We were out celebrating a friend’s engagement–a sort of pre-bachelorette party. Over an evening of shots, Del Taco, a Batman toy acquired from a claw machine, and a really long walk down J Street (a serious underestimation of distance on our part), we somehow hit it off. I don’t even remember all of what we discussed, but it was that night that I realized I had a new and amazing friend.

After that, we started scheming, realizing we had a lot of the same views and concerns and a desire to write about them. We would meet up to discuss topics and even write together from time to time. We have long term business plans still in the works and more work to do than we’ll ever have the time.

The second adventure was in Bakersfield. I was going to a training session for work, and my co-worker got sick and bailed on me. So, she decided to tag along instead. The company hosting the training made sure to adequately wine and dine us. And after our dinner and booze, we headed off to meet one of my long-time, met-on-the-Internet friends (there are lots of those in these stories) who was in town that weekend. And that’s when things started to unravel.

We met at an underground bar and drank a few beers, and I guess I must have missed it, because at some point she slipped into a dark place, perhaps a toxic mixture of grief and alcohol. Now, I’ve left a lot out of this story because it’s meant to be short, but this girl has been through some of the worst sorts of experiences. She watched her own baby die only minutes after he was born. And to add to the grief, she had also suffered multiple miscarriages, too. Sometimes, there’s a lot you don’t know that’s going on behind the scenes in a person’s life, and sometimes it all comes out when you’re not expecting it to.

But even in her dark place, she would repeat over and over words of comfort, certain that God had a purpose in everything. That her pain wasn’t meaningless. That things happen for reasons we sometimes don’t understand. I could tell my other friend was getting uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do; he eventually ended up taking off. It was late anyhow. We left, too, but we didn’t go back to our hotel room.

People who know me know I’m bad at affection. I’m bad at comfort. It’s not that I don’t feel empathy, but I certainly don’t know how to be there in a way that everyone would like. I’m thankful that she understands this about me, and gets that I care even though I don’t know how to show it properly at times. She’s gone out of her way to tell me so.

As we found ourselves again on the streets of Bakersfield, which is honestly a very strange place, I realized I was not going to see a bed for a very long time. She had become adamant¬†about talking to the homeless people on the street, preaching to them, determined to buy them a warm meal. And so that’s what we did, arm in arm with people we didn’t know; we walked down the street at 2am until we could find a place with food that was still open. And the whole way there, fairly inebriated, she preached the gospel to our new friends. And they listened to every word.

We eventually found a gas station, bought the rest of their sandwiches, sent our friends on their way, and found our way back to the hotel. It was an experience I will never forget. I know she’s embarrassed by it, but I’m not. It made me like her even more. If the worst you do when you’ve had too much to drink is comfort your own self with the gospel, feed the homeless, tell them the gospel, and give them long, genuine hugs, you’re okay in my book.

We’ve had a lot of stories since these two, and thankfully they include a great deal of sobriety. And she is now a mother to a beautiful little girl and a foster mother to another beautiful little girl. From no babies to two all in one week. God is good.

I have to say still the funniest moment was when she, a fellow tomboy, walked into church one morning and looked at me as though the entire world was suddenly upside down. Then, just completely baffled, she said, “I have two girls at church today in matching pink dresses. What happened?”

Life happened. God happened. It’s awesome.

Beka Johnson
Beka Johnson

Beka is the Director of Inbound Marketing for a fintech company in the Seattle area. She loves dabbling, reading, scheming, writing, and dreaming up ways to make good things better. When she’s not working, you can find her digging up all sorts of adventures in her new city.

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