The first thing I noticed were the cuts on her knees.
Then I noticed her blackened right eye. It was blood-shot and bruised, and she was holding a ziplock bag filled with ice cubes against her face.
“If I were you, I’d KILL HIM!” her friend said to her.
The woman just sat there silently.
I was there to run a writing workshop, not serve as a counselor, but I couldn't help it. As soon as the woman's friend stepped away, I started a conversation with her.
As we sat and chatted she began to tell me about how she ended up at this shelter.
“I hated my parents,” she said. “They were really strict, you know? They wouldn’t let me do ANYTHING!”
She left home on her 18th birthday and soon realized life on the outside of her home was anything but easy. Within a few weeks she was bouncing from couch to couch. Within a few months she had worn out her welcome at her friend's house, so she accepted a cot at this shelter.
She’s 19 now.
“How do you earn money? How do you survive?” I asked her.
“Dancing,” she said, pointing to the strip club that was directly across from the shelter. The neon light was flashing LIVE GIRLS, even though it was only 1:00 in the afternoon. Her shift was the begin later that day.
After spending most of the day with her, I began to think how one poor choice can lead to so many choices we may not have control over. She went from being someone’s “baby girl” to dancing in a dark club at 3:00 in the afternoon. Stripping was the only way she knew to get by. She told me her faith in God was long gone. “He forgot about me, I guess,” she said. But boy was she wrong!
I didn't want to preach to her, but I couldn’t wait to share Jeremiah 1:5 with her because she needed to know how special she is! She needed to know God formed her in the womb, not because He had to but because He WANTED to! She had a whole life ahead of her, and all she had to do was take the first step toward a change. I didn’t want to come off as one of those pamphlet-distributing Bible thumpers, I just wanted her to know how good God had been to me. Yes, I made (and still make) lots of mistakes, but my connection to God means by His grace alone I can get up every single day knowing I will do my best to serve Him.
When I went back a few weeks later, she wasn’t there. I immediately thought something had happened to her- but her friend told me she had reconnected with her parents and was now back at home. I was overjoyed!
Sometimes we lose sight of who we are and WHOSE we are, and this is when we start the spiral downwards into a life God never meant for us to have. God wants the best for us! He sets the plan in action but it’s up to us to be obedient and follow what He says. If it means we have to tolerate strict parents, a micro-managing boss or a teenager who thinks we know nothing, then so be it. This is the path God chose for us!
If you are struggling with getting back on track with your life, ask God for help! He is always available, all you have to do is ask. You don’t have to spend another moment waiting for things to “turn around”- you can take control right now and make it all right again.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.“
Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.