I spent close to three hours on FaceTime tonight with Ricky. The first two hours of it were basically spent me watching him play FIFA, but honestly, I've been wanting company so badly that even that was fun for me. When I finally got him to take a break from that, we started reading some Scripture together and got to talking about our friendship and our stories. That was when he told me something that I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.
I'm too tired to remember his exact words, so I'll paraphrase. He basically told me that if he had the choice to either save his life or save mine, he would save mine. If he had to do it 100 times, he would always save mine. And it wasn't just because he loves me, it was because I'm such a miracle that he couldn't let that be taken away from the world. He said that he may bring one or two people to God over the course of his life, but that he believes with the story I have to tell, I could bring hundreds. He wouldn't even consider it a loss for him to give up his life for me to live; he'd consider it a blessing because I have so much more good to do than he ever could.
While I'm not so sure about that last bit, hearing that from him literally brought me to tears in the middle of our call. I don't know that anyone has ever straight out told me that they would give up their life to save mine. And even if they have, I know that it wasn't because of what Ricky said. To say that it's humbling to hear someone loves you that much is the understatement of the century.
But here's the thing. That wasn't the whole reason that I started crying. As I listened to what he had to say, it hit me like a ton of bricks just how amazing God's powers of redemption really are. I spent so much of my life believing not only that I would never find love, but that I didn't deserve to find it, so to have someone right in front of me act as living, breathing proof of how far God will go to answer prayers beyond your wildest imagination? That's a feeling beyond anything I can ever put into words.
As Ricky also said, God knew what I needed before I was even born. He knew I would need a brother like this, so he created Ricky two years before I ever existed. That is the kind of God we serve. Before the beginning of time, He has our whole lives planned and displayed out in front of Him. He knows exactly who we need and exactly when we'll meet them. As much as I wish I had met him and the rest of my boys earlier on in my time at Campbell so I could have gotten more time with them, I can see the beauty in our family forming when it did.
Since we got so little time together on campus, it's that much clearer and powerful how close we are now. When most people would have let the distance make things fall apart, especially only after having a few months together in person, our bonds have only grown tighter with time, despite me being so far away now. That's God's grace in action, that He would choose not only to bless us with each other, but to help us keep our family and love for each other strong.
The danger of putting your heart on the line, the danger of choosing to trust and love again even after you've been hurt, is that you risk giving a piece of your heart and yourself to someone who may not love and appreciate you as much as you do them. That's a fear I struggle with. It's exactly why I was so scared to trust these boys in the beginning. I couldn't figure out how a girl like me deserved to hang out with the gorgeous athletes, some of the most popular boys on campus. I couldn't convince myself that it was real. So I was completely terrified that it would all fall apart, that I would let them in only to get crushed like I had by so many other gorgeous, popular boys in my past.
Whether they know it or not, those rowdy boys are Jesus in the flesh to me every single day just by the way that they love me. From the beginning, they have told me that I was enough, enough just as I am, enough to be worthy of love. They make me feel safe, and seen, and beautiful, and that brings such comfort to a bruised and battered heart like mine. I think of the way that they love me, and I am instantly reminded of the fact that God loves me infinitely more than they do. And that's just amazing to me, because it's hard for me to imagine love beyond what these boys have shown me from day one.
So to hear Ricky so plainly say that he would give up his life for me, that was a reminder to me of the God who already did just that.
And it's because of that love that's beyond all understanding that I know I would give up my life to save any one of those boys. I can't imagine loving them any less. And for the first time in my life, I know beyond all doubt that the feeling is mutual.
"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~ John 15:13