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Excuses, Excuses

I'll always wonder if I could've prevented a suicide: If only I'd responded to God's nudge, could things have ended differently?

A stay-at-home mom of young daughters at the time, I was cozily ensconced in my neighborhood network of mom-friends with whom I met regularly for coffee or backyard chitchat. So I wasn't on the lookout for more friends in my life; it already was filled to overflowing.

Our home faced the side yard of a house where Dan, the man my husband and I referred to as Speedo Guy, lived. We didn't really know Dan; we'd only chatted briefly a few times while he was out mowing his grass (dressed in—you guessed it—a skimpy Speedo). I'd never met his wife.', 'But one warm summer afternoon, as I sat on the front porch watching my girls ride trikes up and down the sidewalk, a woman ambled across my yard to introduce herself. It turns out she was Speedo Guy's Wife! She seemed tentative yet eager to chat. While we made small talk, I learned she was home during the day but didn't have any children. As our conversation began fizzling out, I breezily said, "Well, I'll have to have you over for coffee sometime soon." And that was that.

Afterwards, every time I looked out my front windows and saw her house, I felt God's undeniable prompting to make good on my offer. Yet despite those nudges, I never issued an invitation. Life was busy, my house was messy, and I was afraid I'd feel uncomfortable. Coffee with her would be awkward because I have kids and she doesn't, I told myself. Besides, she probably doesn't even remember I said I'd call her.

Excuses, excuses.

You can imagine my shock several weeks later when my husband learned from Dan that his wife had taken her life. She'd closed their garage door, turned on their car's engine, and asphyxiated herself.

Not too long after that, Speedo Guy's house went up for sale.

The fact I'd never invited her to coffee haunted me for quite a while. Had her bounding over to meet me been an attempt at a human connection she desperately needed? If I'd obeyed God's promptings and reached out to her—despite any clumsiness I might've felt—could I have influenced her life's outcome? Guilt-ridden about the whole horrible deal, I had to remind myself that Christ's blood covers every kind of sin—including sins of omission—and that chances were good nothing I could've said or done would've changed the course this individual chose for herself. But still …

Many years have gone by since that summer. I still occasionally get those unexpected promptings from God—to phone or e-mail someone, jot a person an encouraging note, take over a meal, or even apologize for something God brings to mind. But because of Speedo Guy's Wife, I'm more motivated to pay attention, because I never know how God might want to use me in someone else's life.

I'd love to hear about the times you've felt those insistent nudges from God. And, perhaps like me with Speedo Guy's Wife, you either ignored them because you lacked confidence, felt too uncomfortable to step out in faith, or even simply told yourself, I'll do it later, and then later never came. Or tell me about times you obeyed—and amazing things happened. Then let's pray together that God will keep us from the kinds of excuses that prevent him from working in our lives.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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