Thursday, September 25, 2008

Changing direction...

Some of you remember this post from last year.….. Prostitution

Well…. here’s another chapter.

She walked in today.

I’ve actually seen her since that last post. She’d come in once before & seemed surprised that I’d remembered her name. I found that funny, in my own head.
“If you only knew…”, I thought.
But then again, how could she? She’s used to having the shallow conversations most of us have when we just want to get out of an awkward situation. And that day, I was no different. I struggled to bridge the gap between casual conversation and cutting to the heart of real life and real relationship.

But today, when she came in, it was different, and so was she.
Clear eyes. She’s gained weight - not drug-induced thin.
She had work clothes on.
She smiled.
She was calm. She still talked fast, but it wasn’t the nervous fast that people speak when their just rolling their story off to you and trying not to get caught in a lie. It wasn’t the fast speak that says “I’ve told this story so many times I’m bored with it myself and I’m not even sure you’re going to listen but I’ve got nothing better to do than try so here goes…” kind of fast.

She was working nearby, and wanted to take some ice over to the site, if we would let her. So as we walked down to fill a couple of bags, we talked.

Sober for 31 days.
“I know you’ve seen me,” she said. “I’m off the street now.”
Got a job.
In a house.
Involved with a church not far from here.

She explains the cycle – having tried to get off drugs… but then needing money.. and hustling to make some… recommitting to get off… around and around. She uses language that’s different from our church jargon, but in it she’s candid and more honest than she’s ever been with me.

I tell her I’m proud of her. I tell her about the night that Jason saw her, and that I went looking for her. She cries. And lets me hug her.

Her boyfriend comes in, and I see the same difference in him. And she relays what I’d just told her. He too is honest – even with admitting anger over a situation that had happened here and the violent revenge he’d envisioned. And yet, in the same breath, he relays what God did with that… and how “God is so funny about that stuff.” He tells with a genuine sense of pride about providing a few boxes of pizza for lunch to a business he’d stolen from for 2 years.
They both share their thankfulness for what we’ve done through the years.

I believe them.

I meet people every week that are begging for something and have “found Jesus”. (Hear the dramatic southern drawl that inherently is supposed to validate their salvation and ensure my response to their request that day...)
So there’s a part of me that doesn’t like being taken. Honestly, I hate being lied to. And I hear so many stories that in moments like this, my first response is always guarded, if not downright cynical.

But I realized today, that in her face, I saw the potential of recovery.

Complicated? Yes.
Long haul? Yes.
Set backs? Most likely.
More failures? Most certainly.

But, that’s what messy lives being transformed are like. It's what mine is like, anyway.
Two steps forward, three steps back. It’s still progress.

Most of us tire of walking that long road beside someone.
At times I feel other’s failure must somehow reflect my own. I’ve got to keep letting Christ refine that fear, as Satan is more than ready to hold my hand and walk me into complete in-effectiveness.

Thank God that He works all the time. Never tiring. Never cynical. Willing to use anybody… anywhere. Willing to take us at whatever sober moment we will give Him. Willing to walk the long road, and desiring to work in all of us that will let Him along the way.

As she walked out, we chatted some more. She told me I had permission to kick her butt if I saw her on the street again and I told her I’d take her up on it. (That's a funny picture - but I'm willing to try....)
I hugged her again. I told her that what was most beautiful to me about her today was her eyes. She looked down and then back at me.

“Thank you. I’m not perfect yet. But I know who is, and I’m trying to look more like Him.”

Today, she did.


Lindsay said...

Wow! I am amazed and encouraged by the working of our God. HE IS AWESOME!!!

It is my prayer that He will continue to gently and patiently mold this precious child to "look more like Him." And may He give you all the strength, courage, wisdom, faith and love that you need for whatever He may ask you to do in her life.

He is doing amazing things through you, my friend!

Su said...


Also, the mental picture of you kicking someone's bum is too priceless for words. If you do, would you mind posting some pictures? :)

Toni Burns said...

Heather, I can't wait to see you in a few months. I know all the women are going to be blessed by you and our time together. Love you lots - Toni

Neva said...

Beautiful post and beautiful story. I am saying a prayer for you both.