One time I was in a one-person restroom at a coffee shop in Nashville and I forgot to lock the door. A girl walked in…we both screamed. The whole coffee shop heard us.
I was sitting in my living room of the townhome I lived in during college. A couple friends were coming over for game night so I left my door unlocked, ready to be the best hostess ever. A huge, football player looking guy bolted into my house screaming, “Derrick! I know you’re in here!” (I edited out some of his other choice words.) I must have scared him with my Ninja stars because he took one look at me and ran out the door.
My senior year of college I was going bowling with a couple friends I had made in one of my classes. We all decided to meet up at Charlie’s house before heading to the bowling alley. Charlie gave me directions to his house, assured me it was easy, his house number was 3408 and I would see his black SUV in the driveway.
3408. Black SUV. Got it.
He told me he was going to take a quick shower, but he would leave the door unlocked and I could just make myself feel at home.
“Hey, do you have any food?” a question every college kid asks.
“Doubt it. My brother cleaned out the fridge, but you can help yourself to whatever you can find.”
I turned onto his street, quickly located 3408 and like he promised, his black SUV sat on the driveway. I walked into his cute, suburban looking house. The living room was directly on your right when you first walk in to the house, so like a good Asian girl, I took off my shoes, plopped myself on the couch and turned on the Disney Channel.
[Let me pause and explain the whole Disney Channel thing. I didn’t grow up with cable because my parents refused to let us fill our heads with mindless hours of television. So when I started college, I naturally experimented with my new found freedom by getting cable and watching mindless hours of, yes, the Disney Channel.]
About two minutes into an episode called “That’s So Raven,” my stomach reminded me that I was hungry and I walked down the hall into the kitchen. Half-listening to the television and focused on doing a thorough raid of their refrigerator, the last thing I was expecting was to run into anybody but Charlie in the house. But there, in the middle of Charlie’s kitchen stood two 6’ something cowboys. I’m talking plaid shirt, Wrangler jeans, Cowboy boots and hat.
Okay, Sarah, be nice, but don’t talk too much or you’ll miss the entire episode…“Hi! I’m Sarah!” I said extending my hand to one of them. When the guy failed to extend his hand in return, I tried the other guy. They both stared at me blankly, without moving and said nothing.
I tried again.
“I’m a friend of Charlie’s. I didn’t realize there were other people going bowling with us! This is going to be fun! How do you know Charlie?”
Again, they said nothing.
If you know me well, I’m an awkward person and I definitely don’t do well in awkward situations like this. I tend to be that girl who keeps digging a hole and jumping in before burying myself in a pile of dirt. But my thought process was, if we were going to spend the next few hours bowling with each other, it would be a long night if they thought I was a jerk. And there was no way they were going to ruin bowling night for me.
“So I know Charlie’s in the shower right now and you guys look like you’re in the middle of something…so…I’m just going to grab some food and go back into the living room.”
“You guys are more than welcome to join me. I’m watching the Disney Channel. I know, I know, but I was deprived of cable as a kid so even though it’s weird to watch it in college, I love it.”
“Right now ‘That’s So Raven’ is on, it’s not the best episode, but give it a try, you might end up liking it.”
“Okay, well, I’m just going to check the fridge. Excuse me.”
I moved a couple steps toward the fridge. Cowboy One didn’t budge.
“…Oh…excuse me, just…going to…”
Still, Cowboy One’s feet stayed firmly on the kitchen tile.
“Hey, I’m sorry, I’m being rude! If you want, I can make you guys some food too. Are you hungry? Who am I kidding, all guys are hungry all the time. Am I right?”
At this point, I’m annoyed. These guys are obviously jerks. You know the type, too cool for school. I don’t know who they think they are but they are not better than me, maybe I don’t WANT them to come bowling with us!
“You know what. I’m just going to wait for Charlie to get out of the shower and grab some food later…It was nice meeting you! Hope you guys go bowling with us!!” (Not!)
I sat back down on the couch, fuming a little. How rude.
That’s when a cold rush ran through my spine. You know, the kind where it feels like a ghost has just passed through you and you feel the blood drain from your body. Raven, the character on TV, was having a premonition on the episode…I was too.
I got up slowly and walked back into the kitchen. The two cowboys were standing there like statues as if they hadn’t even breathed since I left them.
“Um,” I squeaked. “This isn’t Charlie’s house, is it?”
Cowboy Two made his first peep ever:
“No, it’s not.”
It was like a gun shot before a race. I took off running. I grabbed my stuff, didn’t bother putting on my shoes and ran. Getting into my car would take too much time so I just kept running down the street. I ran until I found a bush to hide in and dialed my friend to who was also on his way to come pick me up.
When we arrived at Charlie’s actual house he stood on the lawn with his hands in the air –
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”
“Charlie! What is your house address?”
“How should I know! I don’t write myself letters!”
I handed Charlie my keys and made him go back to 3408 to retrieve my car. When he returned, he informed me that the two cowboys were now rolling on the lawn, laughing.
So, this story has been on my mind lately. I think God calls us to live our lives with unlocked doors. I don’t mean He wants you to literally leave the door to your house unlocked…actually, if you feel Him calling you in that direction, by all means, leave it unlocked…but what I’m trying to say is we are called to love without inhibition or false pretenses. We are called to love people. Period.
There was a time in my life that I had a falling out with Trust and made the decision that I didn’t trust anyone ever. After being constantly burned by the people in my life, I decided to completely shut down my heart. After all, everyone had ulterior motives and I wasn’t going to take any more risks on getting hurt. I even argued that I was just following God’s instructions to better “guard my heart.”
But people who don’t trust anyone live really lonely lives. Seriously, they’re literally all alone. I learned by not letting anyone in, I became an imposter. In an effort to keep everyone at bay, I let myself become a different person – a jaded, angry, malfunctioning robot. And if you get good enough at keeping everyone out, eventually you even build a wall to keep God out.
Turns out putting your heart on lockdown can make you into a coward. Not only will you constantly feel empty and lonely, but you become surrounded by a lot of superficial relationships. I’m not saying you need to cultivate deep, intimate relationships with EVERYONE, but I think it’s important to consistently seek wisdom from good people, surround yourself with people who will be honest with you, no matter what and love you sincerely. What I’m saying is, your faith and love cannot amount to anything under a lock and key.
Jesus was the ultimate example of living a life of unlocked doors. He did it in such a way that He was able to guard His heart from the things of this world while still standing true to who He was. He knew just how to love well and unconditionally without reserve. Sure, there were moments His heart broke, but he recognized that it is far better to love big than live small.
That’s what happens when we unlock doors. We open our hearts to opportunities full of great moments and stories we would never have experienced otherwise.
A few years later I got a call from Charlie telling me he had befriended his Cowboy neighbors.
“They still talk about you, you know,” he told me.“ At parties they like to tell people about the time the little Asian girl walked into their house and wouldn’t stop talking.”
Like I said, great stories come from unlocked doors.