Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Strangers and Friends... nary the two shall meet... sort of

I guess that's about all I can muster right now. I've got sooooo much stuff running through my head right now. I am just trying to process everything and it's all information overload. We went to Peoria (a novel in itself) and came from behind to eliiminate the Mustangs two games to one in the best of three series. We start the Hurster Cup finals on Thursday. We play Flint on Thursday, St. Louis on Friday, and Dubuque on Saturday. If we can make it to the Championship game on Sunday, we will qualify automatically for the national championship tournament.
Anyway, I was all set to come home after work and grab some dinner and just clean the place up since I haven't been home much at all (except to catch a nap)... Well, I decide to go over to my dad's old place to check on it. I see a woman in the distance as I get out of my car and head in toward my dad's... I was getting the mail and was coming back to my car when this person yells across to me if I could give her a ride somewhere. Under normal 'Mik' conditions, I would've ignored her and said 'no' and leave quickly. Afterall, it's the hood and you don't know what can happen. But I looked her in the eye and many thoughts from a book I've read and re-read, entered into my mind. The book is called 'Lifestories' from Mark Hall, the lead singer from the band Casting Crowns. In this book, he doesn't talk so much about the crafting of the songs that are featured in the book, but rather the stories behind each of the tunes and how he was led by God to create. Some seriously unfair and tragic things happened and yet these people's faith came through and touched Mark's heart. He talked about trying and failing, sometimes dropping the ball when he had chances to let Christ's love shine through him. I thought about this as I saw this woman (I have to be honest, in my mind, she clearly appeared to be a prostitute). I looked in her eyes and you didn't need to be a doctor to see that she had a defeated, 'hard life' look to her. I didn't know what to do, but I swallowed and decided to show some faith in God. "Sure, I'll give you a lift", I said. She thanked me and flashed a pained smile, rusty from lack of use. I had some junk on the front seat of my car which I quickly moved to the back. I moved everything and as she sat down, I looked at her face, up close. She looked to be in her mid to late forties. She looked like she was a pretty woman at one time. But circumstances, some tough choices, and pain = miserable life. Sooo... with me doing all this judging here, even though I'm trying not to, I sat in my seat and pulled away and she did most of the talking. It was about a 15 minute drive to where she needed to be. She said she was doing a 'house clean job' for a guy. And was going to another 'house clean job' on the other side of town. I didn't tell her that it was in the general direction of where I was going. She asked me if I dated. I said 'no'. She asked me a few other questions and when I kept my answers in short, but generic terms. She was trying to size me up. "Man, you are smart!" she exclaimed. "Nah, I'm not better than you or anyone else..." was my response. She told me her life story about the hard knocks (with plenty of f-bombs thrown in to spice it and how she has an 11 year old son to try and take care of. She talked about the struggles she had and how she had so little hope. I could sense the hopelessness in her voice. I just prayed to God on the spot to give me some words to say. Not that it had to be biblical quotes, but just to be understanding and to let His light enter her heart (or what appeared to be left of it). "So dude, how old are you?" she asked. "42? wow, you look great for that age. I would've never guessed that!" I didn't ask her how old she was, but I didn't have to. "Me, I'm 31 years old". It took every bit of strength I had not to have a look of shock on my face. She started talking about different aspects of her life and not having much to look forward to. My head was swimming. So I kept thinking about that book I read and when I wondered to myself what could or should I say? There's a song that Mark Hall wrote entitled "Love Them Like Jesus" where the idea is that when people go through storms in their life, I don't have to have all the perfect answers, I just need to be there and be supportive, but most importantly, love them like Jesus would. So when she noticed a book marker of 'The Cross In My Pocket' stuck in my dashboard, which was given to me as a birthday gift last year (thank you Riccie), I saw it as an opportunity. Instead of trying to dump a bunch of religious sayings on her, I just talked about trying as hard as I could to make good decisions and that even though I still screw up, my heart tells me I have to keep trying to do what is right. Even when no one else is looking. We chatted about positive attitudes. A little bit about faith, and I told her straight up about being able to say what she wants, but will live what she believes. I re-iterated over and over that I was no better than she was. She thought otherwise, but I told her that I still screw up and make mistakes. I stick my foot in my mouth, even though my intent was to try and say something good. I don't try to act like my stuff doesn't stink. Mark Hall writes about christians "I don't think the world minds that we sin... I think the world minds when we act like we don't". And as that thought came to my mind, I knew I had to build her up a little bit. So I tried talking to her in positive ways. Trying to love like Jesus would. When we pulled up in the driveway of her next 'house clean job', she kept saying that she wished she had met me before (she told me for 'dating' purposes)... I smiled at her, thanked her, but politely declined that offer... I looked at her, she had very bloodshot, teary eyes and thanked me. If I could venture a guess as to why I reached her it might be because I tried not to look at her and judge her. She's probably had a lot of that in her life. She didn't need that from me. And while I may have done that when she first asked for a ride, I left those thoughts on the road we drove away from and treated her as an equal. Because she IS. I wished her well and to keep believing in what the future can hold. And keep praying. And not to give up on life. I don't know if anything I said will stay with her, but I know it impacted me tremendously. It woke me up to how blessed I truly am. I can't ever act like I'm any better than anyone else, because when I looked at her, I saw myself (from my past) looking back at me. And that I am only one or two poor decisions from being there... But as someone who HAS been there, it really makes me feel grateful for the little things that I DO have now... namely Faith, Hope, and Love... they're the most important... This woman and I never exchanged names, didn't even ask each other for that matter. But I will never forget her, or what she did to strengthen my faith in God. I tried to love her like Jesus would. She taught me a whole lot more than I could ever hope to teach her...


Maggs said...

Mik, that was beautiful. So beautiful.

In response to your post on my blog, I have no qualms with religious folks, other than I feel like i'm always judged. You know me, I'm conflicted. I believe. But I don't feel comfortable singing about it, talking about it. It's how I was raised in the catholic church/home.

i accept you 100% because you accept ME 100%, and i know i'm a sinner. but i don't want to be. i try so hard to be a good person. i think for the most part, i am, except when it comes to my husband. i wish things would go back to normal again.

can you meet up friday??

Jackson said...

wow! How awesome! God has used you in a glorious way! Thank you for writing all that down :) It was a blessing aand inspiration to me :)