Approximately one year ago Tracey and I spent a few days at what might be called a halfway house for women. It is a place where women, coming from jail, drug addiction, abusive situations or maybe even all three, go to get a new start and learn how to live in the freedom of Christ.
While there are many, many recovery programs available this one is completely focused on the Bible and Jesus Christ. It is based in a church and headed by a lady with a heart for these broken women. You can tell within just a few minutes she loves what she’s doing and loves these women and they love her.
One lady, who Tracey met in jail, went through the program and was living in a house directly across the street from the church. Not only was she helped, she decided to stick around and help others through their journey. When Tracey met her she had been in and out of jail numerous times and, like many others, just couldn’t seem to get it together. She had spent a great deal of her life on drugs and all the things that particular lifestyle involves. One night after being free for a while, and becoming fugitive of the week, she found herself back in jail. As Tracey walked beside her on the way to the church service; she looked at Tracey sort of dejected and said, “Why do you even care?” For me this was the best story yet, because sometimes people have heard the gospel message so many times they almost seem inoculated to it, but this time she not only heard but saw the gospel. You see Tracey didn’t condemn her or look down on her she simply was present walking beside her during her moment of need. As a Christian our job is to express Christ and one of the ways we do that is simply by being there for others. Sometimes it may even be after someone has made repeated trips in and out of jail.
Anyway, this lady had been living across the street from the church where these young women go to celebrate recovery meetings, attend church services, sing songs etc. Even though she had gone through the program and had come a long way she still seemed to have a bit of a problem handling offenses and solving relationship problems. This isn’t meant to be a knock on her, we all have to work through how to deal with others from time time, I’m just mentioning this because it plays into the story I’m about to tell you.
There was one particular young lady who had arrived just a few days before we did. We were told a judge allowed her to participate in this “halfway house/rehabilitation program” rather than sending her to prison. Her and her husband had a history of drug addiction, and in fact her husband had actually smuggled some pills in to her during a visit and it was discovered. The judge could have sent her to prison for this but miraculously he allowed her to stay on but her husband could no longer visit. Without going through all the extra details let me just say, the day Tracey and I were scheduled to leave the pastor called us and told us this young ladies husband had killed himself the night before. We were asked if we could meet them at the church, and of course we said yes, and were on our way.
On our way there it dawned on me to ask the lady living across the street to join us. I thought, she’s having a tough time right now and what could be better for her than to help someone else. Besides, her husband had died while she was in jail, so she would have a better understanding of what this young lady was going through than any of us. God himself had orchestrated this whole thing so the one could comfort the other with the comfort she herself had been given.
When we got to the church I felt somewhat like a trapped animal that didn’t know where to go or what to do, and part of me just wanted to run away. Even though Tracey and I have taught and prayed with many people, involved in some very bad situations, for me this one was going to be the most difficult. These are the times when the Holy Spirit becomes more real than any other, because there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it otherwise. I know some of you are saying what do you mean you? What about the young lady? I know, I know she definitely had more to deal with than we did, but there we were. What do I say? What could I possible do to comfort her? Do I keep silent, hug her, pat her or stay far, far away from her? I know one thing to do and that was to pray, pray, pray!
We all gathered in the sanctuary and someone turned some music on quietly in the background. Thankfully there were two ladies there that gently broke the news to her, and she started wailing uncontrollably as we silently prayed. As they consoled her we all took turns, although feebly, speaking life and encouragement to her the best we could. For the most part I didn’t say much, but we sat with her for about three hours and it seemed like fifteen minutes. God truly shows up in the most painful of life’s situations and brings comfort in the way only He can. As our time with them came to an end it dawned on me that I do have something to tell her. I shared with her how three of my friends had passed away, directly or indirectly, because of drugs. One was killed, one became ill and passed away, and the other committed suicide.
I shared with this young lady how for a while I actually felt guilty for being alive. I looked around and thought to myself, “It isn’t fair that my friends have died and I’m still alive. I lived just as dangerously as they had, so why am I still alive?” I told her,”Do not take guilt for being a survivor! Whatever you do don’t do that to yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to get sober and live for Christ and your children. That’s what your husband would have wanted.”
This took place close to a year ago and it seemed a bit too fresh to share it then but now it seems right. I hope you have been touched by this story and you would say a prayer for this young lady and her family. This isn’t something you ever get over, but with the Spirit of the God of all comfort living in you there is a way to get through. We are called to “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those who weep” this time it was the weeping part hopefully we will see her again and get to do a little rejoicing with her.