In Honor of Allie Mohney
I still remember the day the graduation party invitation arrived in the mail from a young woman my husband and I had worked with in youth ministry.
Unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, I reluctantly sent my husband and sons without me. Along with a small gift, I filled out a card sharing how proud I was of her, what a beautiful girl she was, and how I hoped we could get together soon.
That day never came. Not long after, she died in a tragic car accident.
But her memory stands as a reminder to me of a lesson I learned as a young adult—that the unconditional love of friendship can change a life.
As a young adult, I felt misunderstood and alone, my spirit desperately cried out for something my mind didn’t fully comprehend. I hid my “need” under funky hair colors, piercings, and identifying the hypocrisies of the world. The judgments of those around me deemed me an outcast, proclaiming the only help I needed was in the fashion department. They could not have been more wrong.
It was true my natural fashion sense leaned toward alternative style clothing, that I enjoyed experimenting with my hair, and was drawn to beats of teenage angst. I still am to this day. But deep down, I used those things to express to the rest of the world that I was fine alone. I didn’t need their friendship. I would reject them before they rejected me.
During this time, I frequently visited my sister and her friends at college. On one of my visits, they gave me cards of encouragement. Even though they barely knew me, they told me I was a beautiful girl who deserved the very best in life.
They saw in me what no one else did. They loved me and wanted to be my friend.
Something about these visits impacted me. With time, the darkness didn’t seem to have the same hold. I sat in my apartment at night, listening to music and reading their cards. Their words were like sweet honey pouring over the bitterness within my soul, sticking to its core.
I later spent many months searching, crying, and praying to God for something I knew I desperately needed, but yet didn’t understand. One seemingly insignificant night, I had a dream. In this dream, God was reaching out His strong, protective hand to me.
He saw in me what no one else did. He loved me and wanted to be my friend.
A month later, I returned to visit my sister and her friends. At dinner, I poured my heart out to them. There was “something” about them that made me feel safe. They listened and empathized.
The next day on the way to church, my sister and I were hit by an oncoming car. I slammed into the dashboard and crushed my right arm into five pieces.
Due to the seriousness of the injury, I had to wear a cast for several months and required surgery. I needed assistance with simple tasks such as washing my hair and was unable to work. I had two options: I could go back to my apartment and be alone or, I could stay there with my sister and her friends, letting them care for me.
We came up with a temporary solution. I moved in with a couple who taught at the university.
My first night in their home is one I will never forget. As we awkwardly sat down for dinner, the husband prayed. He thanked God that I was there and for the opportunity to get to know me. The honesty in his voice was overwhelming. I felt my eyes sting with tears.
He saw in me what no one else did. He loved me and he wanted to be my friend.
As I reflect on this time in my life, I’m amazed at the scope of God’s love. The creator of the universe took time to answer the prayer of a sinful, pink-haired, tongue-pierced girl. The world had rejected me, long ago deciding my messiness wasn’t worth their effort. But a grace-filled God called out to those who would listen to sacrifice their resources, time, and emotional energy all for me—a stranger.
My life is forever changed.
At the young woman’s funeral, those closest to her reminisced about the creative books she had authored and her funny sense of humor. Although I’d spent many hours with her, there was a depth to her that I never got to know—depths that I now yearn to know.
For me, one of the lessons of her life and ultimately her death is to take the time to invest in the misunderstood and outcasts around me, to offer them God’s unconditional love and acceptance. I want to always remember where I came from and look beyond the atypical clothing, push aside the shabby long bangs, and gaze into the eyes of their person.
I want to see someone like no one else does. To love them and be their friend.