December 10th 2016
Auburn Sandstrom lay in a clump on her apartment floor, clutching a tattered piece of paper. Auburn knew she'd hit bottom. It was 2 am, it was 1994.
The only reason Auburn wasn't out hustling drugs on the cold Ann Arbor streets, was the two –year-old baby sleeping in the next room. Despite the fog of her addiction, and the chaos of her life, she still had some semblance of maternal responsibility.
Auburn didn't grow up a drug addict. As a teen, she attended an elite private school, studied abroad in college, took opera lessons, and earned a Master's degree. Then she'd met the wrong guy, lost her bearings, and became hooked on drugs.
"If you're ever desperate and need some advice," urged her mother three years earlier, "call this Christian counselor." Placing the paper in her hand, it was the last time they talked.
On this night, she dialed the number. "Hello?" responded the surprised voice on the end of the line. "How...how...can I help you?"
For the next three hours Auburn unloaded her story to this anonymous listener--her idyllic childhood, a destructive relationship, the drugs, the unplanned pregnancy. "
You have any Bible verses you want me to memorize?" asked the still-skeptical Auburn, noticing the early morning sun coming through the blinds. "I mean, you are a Christian counselor aren't you?"
"I'm....I'm not, actually a Christian counselor. You must have dialed the wrong number." Auburn sat stunned in a moment of sobriety. Another person had given up his time and sleep....for her. A stranger. "
At that moment I realized there were random bits of LOVE in the universe and some of it was meant for me," she confessed later. "At the darkest and most despairing moment of my life, all I needed was a pinhole of light and all the grace in the world could pour through."
Pinholes of light.... Auburn's life dramatically changed direction that night. She walked away from a destructive relationship, worked on being sober, and became an attentive mother. Last year her son graduated from Princeton University.
How we respond to the serendipitous events and encounters of our lives can have eternal implications. Every random human interaction is an opportunity to remind others that they are not alone in this vacuous universe. Christmas reminds us that LOVE exists and pinholes of light wait for us all. God may just need you and me to be the ones who deliver.