Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)
By Robyn Burke
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Nine years. That’s how many I wasted. Six men came and went, not one commitment. Two kids before I was twenty. One DUI, thirty hours of community service and a 12-step group that saw me cycle through more times than the Tour de France.
I've got tracks up and down my arms from needles, thick scars where the cuttings took place. A cheap tattoo on my shoulder and a broken nose from boyfriend number three. When the social worker told me I was gonna lose my babies if I didn’t make a change I still didn’t budge.
They took my kids, took my Sammy and Summer Rose and placed ‘em in foster care. Depressed and angry, I went on a three week binge that left me without a job and booted from my slum of an apartment.
Having no pride to swallow, I went to the mission and asked for a bed for the night. I didn’t care that the price of admission was attending church service.
I sat in the back row, along with all the rest of society’s rejects. We made a colorful line on that old scarred wooden bench. Made me think of a song I learned a million years ago at Sunday School. Red and Yellow, Black and White, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.
There was nothing precious about us, all lumped together in that dimly lit basement. And Jesus? He was just a historical figure in a white robe and hippie sandals. If he did love all the children in the world, why there were so many of ‘em dying from AIDS?
A man with olive skin and long wavy hair stood up at the front and spoke frankly about his life before coming to the mission. Actually he said before coming to Jesus, but I didn’t want to hear that. I tuned him out and after fulfilling my duty, shuffled off with the rest of the women to a dingy cot in a drab room. But I was thankful for the hot meal, warm blanket and even, oddly, the companionship of being in the presence of other women.
The next day I was told I could stay but I would have to work in the kitchen. I had no complaints and soon found myself peeling potatoes next to Sister Mary. That’s what she said her name was but she wasn’t dressed like a nun and I noticed a spider web of scars on her wrists when she pushed her sleeves up to wash the dishes.
When she saw me staring at her wrists, she looked at me and smiled. “My battle scars.” She said. She shared with me her own story, which was parallel to mine. Nothing new and nothing pretty.
Sister Mary said she finally reached the point of wanting to die and would have succeeded if her roommate hadn’t come home early and found her bleeding in the bathtub. In the hospital she was visited by the chaplain who presented the story of Jesus to her in a way she could understand. When she learned about the scars on Jesus wrists, scars he took so she wouldn’t have to, something inside her broke.
As she shared her story, something shifted in me and I found myself with tears streaming down my face. We sat together on an old couch and Sister Mary told me what the chaplain had told her. Jesus loves me. Really loves me. Jesus died for me. He would forgive me for all I had done wrong if I asked him to. And he would change my life, if I would trust Him and give my life to Him.
The first thing I noticed after I prayed was that the gnawing emptiness was gone. I felt at peace for the first time in my life.
It’s been 90 days now and I get to see my kids this weekend. It is my daily prayer that I will get my Sammy and Summer Rose back. I told the social worker I am DONE with that past life. As far as I’m concerned that era of my life is over for good.
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