Staring down from my sixth floor window, I watch them scurry through the dirty streets like cockroaches. My apartment walls are closing in around me. I think I’m losing my mind, cooped up in this room as if it were my prison. I thought I was supposed to be free. Sure, I’m not down there swimming in the cesspool with the other roaches, but sometimes, God help me, I want to be.
The church missionary committee will be calling today with their final decisions for the Cambodia trip. I have never wanted anything more in my life. I don’t think I can survive another day in this ungodly city.
Hiding my hair under my hat, I put on my sunglasses and leave for the store. After six flights of steps, my heart is pounding in my chest. Exhaust fumes fill my laboring lungs as I venture into the Jones Avenue war zone.
I hear a car slowing behind me. The familiar black sedan pulls up. “Hey Sassy, you lookin’ for a date?” He wipes the snot from his mustache with the back of his hand.
“No, man, I don’t do that. I’m saved now.”
He laughs. “Saved from what?”
“From nasty old men like you.” I walk away, cringing that I lived up to my sassy street name again.
He speeds up next to me and spits out the window, “Ugly whore!”
Ugly. I hate being ugly. Even my dad called me a dog. Only the heroin could quiet the insults ringing in my head.
Delva’s Inn looms ahead on the next corner. The windows are covered with plywood, but the front door is always open. Abandoned for more than 10 years, the motel does more business now than when it was up and running. I could turn a trick, score some dope, and fly all in the rooms of this No Tell Motel.
“Hey Sassy. Where you been, girl?”
I ignore her.
“What, you too good to talk to me now?”
I muster a smile, “How’s it goin’ Breezy?”
“I’m gonna fix. You want some?”
Oh, how I want a fix. When I’m high, I’m not lonely and I’m never ugly.
I hesitate for a moment, feeling the pull. Then, remembering the God who saved me, I turn back toward home and run. Stares and laughter follow me.
I burst through the door of my building and race up two flights before collapsing and crawling the rest of the way. My apartment prison becomes my sanctuary. Wiping tears from my face with dusty hands, I fall at the feet of my Savior.
Oh Lord, please get me out of here. I can’t stand it anymore. Please let me go to Cambodia. I want to be a missionary. Please God, let me be chosen.
The answering machine blinks red. It is the long awaited call. Maybe my prayers have been answered.
I am not going to Cambodia. They must not want ugly girls. It’s the story of my life. I kick off my shoes and plop into my window seat. Opening the Bible, my only comfort, I refuse to look at the utter madness beyond the curtains.
His words pierce me like a sword, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” John 4:35-NASB
Pushing aside the linen curtains, the light streams into my room and into me. I rest my hands and forehead against the glass and look out into my mission field.
The postman is scowling again. Breezy hops out of a red sports car and hurries toward the No Tell. Only seventeen, she dropped out of school after her mom was killed. Joe is sitting on the curb with his whiskey, cursing everyone who passes by. Mrs. Tamal is hitting herself while arguing with the demons inside her.
Sorrow rips through my heart. These people are hurting and the mouth of Hell is enlarging every day. Jesus, help them! A great flood of tears bursts forth – tears of compassion rather than self-pity.
Slipping my shoes on, I head out the door with the gospel of peace. There is work to be done, while there is still time.
Somehow, I am not ugly anymore.
“How beautiful are the feet of them who preach the gospel of peace
and bring glad tidings of good things!”
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