A Time to Love

The first time that Alex called me was late one Saturday night.  I didn’t recognize the number, but it was a Georgia number, so I decided I should probably answer.

“Hey Anna, this is Alex.”  I recognized his low voice and was surprised that he called me.  He was my sister’s best friend and I knew him through her, but we had never talked on the phone before.

“Lydia, [my sister] gave me your number.  She always talks about you and says you’re good at encouraging and praying and stuff and…I could really use that…someone to listen, ya know?”  He sniffed and I could tell that he was crying.

I didn’t really know what to say.  He was making me sound like Mother Theresa.

Lord, please help me know how to encourage him, I pleaded.  I don’t know what to say.  

“I am supposed to live for a reason,” he told me, referring to his miraculous recovery from a gunshot wound to the head a few months previous.  Tonight though, he was in pain and was depressed and slurring his words.  “I know I’ve got a drug problem.  I just need cleaned up.”

I have no idea what I said, but every few weeks for months afterwards, we would talk and I would pray with him.  He was sincere, kind, thoughtful, and struggling.  We talked about forgiveness, redemption, courage, and love.  He wanted to do right, but he didn’t fully believe that he deserved God’s forgiveness or that he could muster the courage for permanent change.  “It’s easier to do the stuff that I’m used to doing,” he mentioned in one conversation.  “Change is a lot harder.”

He was right. Change is hard.

One afternoon, he called, excited because he was planning on starting rehab.  “I just have to wait until the insurance money comes in, then I can go.”  He talked about what he would do with his life after he got cleaned up, he had big plans for his future.

A few days later, I got the news that he had died of a drug overdose.  The news hit me hard, as it did all those who know him.  Ironically, the day after his death, the insurance money arrived.

“Why?” I asked my husband through tears that night.  “Why do I let myself hope that maybe this time will be different?  Why do I let myself love people when I know I’m just setting myself up to get hurt?”

He hugged me.  “Isn’t loving the best way to get hurt?”

It’s been a little over a year, and he is still on my mind and heart.  Although I still wonder why things turned out the way they did, I do not regret getting to know him, even for a moment.  He reminds me that none of us are that different.  We all have our own struggles that we face and it’s good to reach out.  Are we willing to reach out to others?

Rest in peace, Alex.


  1. Anna~Thank you for sharing this story…you have a beautiful writing style and this is a good reminder to all of us who are in Christ to reach out to those in need of forgiveness and redemption, because we were also once in need of change. Change is hard! It is so much easier for all of us to dwell in the pits we create for ourselves–and that is exactly where Satan wants us to stay. Ethan was right…”Loving is the best way to get hurt.” Isaiah 54:8-10 God’s love won’t walk away.

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