Posted by: bellissimanh | August 29, 2008

Another Time, Another Place

No, this post is not about Sandi Patti or Wayne Watson. 🙂

 

I attended a benefit concert with some of my coworkers last night. Our boss sponsored the concert and had tons of tickets, so we all decided to grab our lawn chairs and go to the outdoor show. 

The benefit was for the Fire Fighters Association, and if you know anything about our history, you could probably guess that we love to support them! I also was looking forward to getting to rub elbows with my coworkers outside the workplace. I’m always looking for ways to go beyond “colleagues” to friendship – how can you really have an impact on another’s life otherwise?

So there we sat. The band was ok. It was a cover band for Garth Brooks. They weren’t phenomenal, but pretty good. It’s been YEARS since I listened to any Garth Brooks music. I was amazed at how quickly the words came back to memory.  There was a chill in the air. The White Mountains turn cool early as Fall makes its entrance. Still, we were together, we were relaxed, we were enjoying the show.

And then it happened. Some “cowboy” behind us began hollering to the band. At first, he yelled encouraging things, and we just smiled and didn’t think much of it. Over time his comments grew annoying, and even offensive. It was obvious that cowboy had consumed WAY too much alcohol, even before he arrived, and he staggered around, not really an angry drunk, but annoying, just the same.

Those around me kind of laughed at him. They rolled their eyes and wondered if he might be removed. The band members began making jokes at cowboy’s expense. He remained oblivious.

Then I saw her. She sat cross-legged on the ground. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, she flicked her cigarette every 15 seconds or so. Staring at the ground, the corners of her mouth turned down. She said nothing, but I could almost hear her thoughts.

“Why does he do this? Why can’t he just have a beer and be content with that?”

“Doesn’t he get that these people aren’t laughing with him? He’s not the life of the party, he’s a joke. They’re laughing AT him. How can he not know that?”

“Does he care about me at all? Does he even know I’m here?”

“Ah, but tomorrow he’ll be sober, and sweet. He’ll make it up to me.”

No, I’m not telepathic, but I am nearly certain those thoughts were running through her mind. How can I be so sure?

Because twenty years ago, that was me. Another time, another place… I was in her jeans and T-shirt. I was constantly torn between trying to keep my drunk man out of trouble and secretly hoping he’d get arrested. I would wish with all my heart for a different life in one moment, and make excuses and tell myself lies about how sweet he really was (when sober) and how much he loved me in the next. Most of the time, he didn’t even know I existed, but oh… in the moments when he did… the ones where he really saw me… I meant the world to him. I was his everything. At least I convinced myself it was so.

At one point the band launched into a stirring rendition of “The Dance.” They encouraged the crowd to, “…grab your loved one and hold ’em close.” After being visibly angry and upset with her man all evening, the girl gave in and sought him out. She moved to where he was standing near the front of the stage and put her arms around his waist. She tried her best to engage him, and for a moment it looked like she had succeeded. He took his off-white cowboy hat and rested it on her head, gazing into her eyes. A smile tugged at her lips for the slightest time. But as quickly as the moment came, it passed, and he was back in his own little world, oblivious to everything but the music. She ended up leaving him there, walking back to her spot on the grass… once again alone.

I so wanted to reach out to her. To do something… say something. Yet I was so worried about how she would react. Would she be embarrassed?  Would I just bring further humiliation to her? Would she feel I was meddling? Would she get angry and defensive, telling me it was none of my business? She’d probably tell me I knew nothing about her or her life.

Oh, but I do… and how my heart was breaking for her. Not knowing what to say, I prayed.

Father, draw her to Yourself. She’s been abandoned here tonight, but You are the faithful friend who never leaves.

Father, scare him sober. Bring something into his life that will open his eyes to his destructive behavior… what it’s costing him… and her.

Father, fill that void in her heart… the emptiness… fill it with Yourself. Show her that You are what she’s been missing.

Father, she’s running. She doesn’t even know what she’s running from or to… she just knows that if she stops, everything will fall apart. Slow her steps, Lord. Capture her with Your grace.

Father, help her to see that there is One who loves her completely. Send someone into her life to shower her with Your grace and overwhelm her with Your loving kindness.

It should have been me.

Father, forgive me for not being more bold. Forgive me for not showing her that You offer a way out of hopelessness and despair. Forgive me for worrying more about how I would be received than how much she needs You. Father, forgive me.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. 6:9-11

Oh, Lord… perspective is such a powerful thing! Yes, I was that girl… the victim. But there have also been times in my life when I was the drunkard… the thief… the idolater… the adulteress. How Your grace has rescued me! What a wondrous thing You have done by saving me and changing my heart.

Father, help me to view this world around me with Your eyes. Give me Your tenderness that seeks to reach out to those who are perishing. Help me to have pity on the lost, rather than look at them with disdain. That young woman is precious in Your sight, Lord, but so is her man. Your blood is worthy to atone for both of their sins… for ALL of them. How dare I act and think as though I get to choose who to feel sorry for… who is deserving of Your redemption.

How grateful I am for where we are today, Lord! How thankful I am for the godly husband You have given me. Those memories from the past are so few and far between that when they come, I am startled by them, and overwhelmed by how blessed I am today. Why You felt I deserved the wonderful man I call my own today is beyond me, but I will never cease to thank You for him. He is truly a gift straight from You.

Thank You for being faithful to speak when and what I need to hear, Lord. Thank You for continuing to shape me into the woman You want me to be… a woman after Your own heart. We’ve so far to go, Lord… yet with each passing beat of this heart You have formed, You transform in large and small ways. Thank You for Your faithfulness, especially in light of my own lack of it sometimes. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that when You look at me, You don’t see the miserable failure that I am, but You see what’s inside, and how sincerely I want to do what is right in Your sight. Thank You for empowering me to live by Your Spirit. Thank You for loving me. I am in awe of You.

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Responses

  1. wow! You never cease to amaze me, girl. I have those moments too where my past comes out of nowhere and startles me. But how wonderful that we can turn it into thankfulness and compassion for others. Desiring for them what we have seemed to somehow find and grasp. I too felt stabs in my heart as you described the girl and her desperation to be loved, paid attention to. Only God can fill that void. He saw her, knows about her and heard your prayers for her. Thank you for blogging this story. love you, S

  2. What a beautiful (yet sad) post. The fact that she has you (and now me) specifically praying for her will make such a difference. You never know…maybe it was the prayers of someone who saw you 20 years ago that changed the course of your life.

    Xandra

  3. Oh Heather. I’m praising the Lord for what He has brought you from and I thank Him that you are sensitive to women who are still in that place. I LOVE what Xandra said about someone seeing and praying for you 20 years ago. What a thought!

    Have a great weekend,
    steph.

  4. I do that too, at times; talk myself our of going over and talking to a complete stranger for whom we feel compassion. I pray God will give us boldness like Peter and the rest on the day of Pentecost. You never know how God may answer your prayer; I know it made a difference – “the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much…” Thank God somebody was praying for you and me:) Love you!

  5. Heather…
    Vulnerability is beautiful when it reveals shades of grace. I am thankful with you and in awe of our Redeeming God!

  6. I dropped by to tell you how much I enjoyed your wisdom about the pitch on Noah’s ark on Stephanie’s blog and now…you’ve blessed me twice. God’s grace. He takes us far from the place where he found us. And His mercy. He doens’t let us forget where we came from. I’m sure your prayers and compassion are more powerful than you know.

    Kate

  7. The world is changed because of people like you who care enough to pray for a total stranger when you feel their pain. You may never know your impact on others this side of Heaven, but you inspire me and make me want to be a better person! Thanks for sharing this post!

  8. That is so sad to me…
    But like you said, at the same time, it does make me feel thankful. I’m glad that you are not that woman anymore, that you and I both are loved and cared for.
    More than that, I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who “catches every tear in a bottle” so that not one is wasted.

  9. Like others said, I wouldn’t be surprised that someone saw you and prayed for you – and I’m so glad!! I’m so glad God got a hold of you!! 🙂 I have those moments too when see someone that I should reach out to… but instead send a prayer for them. One of your last comments about God seeing what’s inside – our heart -makes me think of recently when I was reading a book referring to the woman pouring ointment on Jesus’ feet. All those around saw ‘the prostitute’ yet Jesus looked at her with the compassion that is so like Him and commented about her love and her faith. He saw her heart, not her sins, not her lifestyle. I loved reading that, and keep thinking on it!! I’m thankful he does that for us all. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂 I love you.

  10. […] Me Your Eyes Last week the Lord really gave me a fresh glimpse of His grace. He reminded me of just how far He’s brought me, and how great is His love […]

  11. […] a series of events that would change the course of my life forever. I’m not going to give all the details because we’d be here for hours…  the snapshot I AM going to give you will take long enough. […]


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