“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” 2 Corinthians 5:13
“Excuse me ma’am, would you be so kind as to take a picture of us, please?” I hear a voice call out to me in an adorable French accent.
“Ahhh, a foreign accent” I think to myself. “Of course! Where are you from!” I don’t even let a second pass without (over)excitingly inquiring.
“Welp—that’s perfect.” I think to myself. (Non)Coincidently, the day before that, I had purchased a one-way ticket to Europe. With an entire continent at my disposal, who knows what new adventures I’ll get myself into. “I’m going to Europe in November! Let’s connect.” Within seconds, I’m grabbing my cellphone to add her on Facebook.
French connections. Happy heart.
A couple days pass by and I’m in the DR surfing through Facebook (thank God for wi-fi) when I run into my new French acquaintance’s status. I send her a message asking her if she wanted to get together as soon as I got back. She agreed, and we planned for Wednesday night.
Wednesday rolls around and I’m on my way to pick up my new French friend. En route to her house and I receive a Whatsapp message: “Hi Kate (Kate is the French variation of my name…I guess. Ha) do you mind if we pick up a friend? He just arrived from France. He will be at the Metrorail station. “HE” I thought. And “just arrived from France”? At this point I’m a bit nervous. It’s 9:30 p.m., I’m on my way to pick up 2 complete strangers from France. I’ve seen Taken, and my daddy ain’t no Liam Neeson.
“Alright, God, you got this.”
Female Frenchie gets into my car. “Oh, Kate! Thank you for picking me up. You not like most Americans. I’ve been here a few weeks, and even though I try, not many Americans have reached out to me. You very open-minded!”
My first thought: she’s adorable. My second thought: no, no. I am NOT like most Americans. Unlike most Americans, I find myself in situations that have me second-guessing my own sanity. Although this story (so far) isn’t like most of my stories involving me, my backpack, an airport, a strange city, and almost always a person I’ve never met before—this story isn’t too far off.
“Kate, I have to be honest with you” –here we go. “I do not know this man we are going to pick up.” …”what?...” I look at my new friend as she continues, “I met him on Facebook a couple days ago.” Oh, Lord. Taken part 3. I’m freaking out. A part of me wanting to pat her on the back for being as beside herself as I am, and the other (sane) part of me imagining the craziness that could go down. Craziness involving random French man holding a knife to my neck, taking my car for joyride…who knows.
I can now put this situation in the category with the others.
My mind starts racing to the countless times that I’ve been in situations where I’ve seemed like an absolute crazy person. Breaking into friend’s houses in Georgia to get a shower and wash my clothes (don’t worry—I had consent); hiking alone 2 miles up Tennessee mountains to get alone with God; prayer-walking through some dangerous parts of Colorado with homeless veterans; sleeping in a tent on the roof of a run-down building in Haiti; acting out a drama about how drugs and alcohol can kill you, while the most dangerous gang-members of El Salvador watch with their weapons at hand; swatting away mice and spiders while I attempt to sleep alone in an abandoned church in Virginia; getting lost in the streets of Peru on the hitch of a Peruvian’s motorcycle without a correct address of destination or form of communication; and I can assure you friends, the list can go on for hours.
As these situations start playing in my head, my understanding of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:13 is pressed on my heart: If I’m beside myself—it’s for God. If I’m in my right mind—it’s for you.
And just like that, driving to the Metrorail to pick up a second French stranger, made perfect sense.
I didn’t get human trafficked that night. In fact, I had a beautiful night. I made new foreign friends. We ate, we laughed, we shared travel stories. But most importantly, we talked about life, and we talked about faith in Jesus.
The best part of the night wasn’t even the great turn-out or the laughs or the food. It was experiencing Jesus in the adventure.
1 a.m. rolls around and as I drove my two Frenchies home, I get on the I-95 North, and somehow get stuck on the two left express lanes. Trying not to show my frustration, I get off at the first exit that isn’t blocked. I realize these dang express lanes took me all the way to North Miami Beach. As I start to make a U-turn to head 45 minutes back the opposite direction, I realize we are on Collins, and the beach is only a few steps away.
I bring my car to a stop. “Kate?”—my Frenchies can sense something is going through my head. “You guys haven’t been to a South Florida beach yet, have you?” I ask. “Not yet?” … In seconds, the car is parked and my shoes are off.
“Oh, Kate! You crazy!” I heard a few times that night. And dang right, I am.
The night ended with running through the waves, selfies on the sand, and the gorgeous view of the moon reflecting on the water. Plus more laughs, new adventures and memories that won’t be easy to forget.
Dear friends, allow yourselves to be out of your mind for God, and in your right mind for the new (or old) friends you’ll encounter.
I’ve learned there’s unimaginable freedom in both.