She pulled out in front of me, this girl whose soul I can't stop thinking about.
And she totaled my old and nasty, but beloved 1998 Toyota Sienna Minivan. No injuries, thank the Lord, as I proceeded through a green light with my Walmart cargo at 10 PM, my brakes failing to avert the assault as she attempted a left-turn-on-yield onto the freeway.
Very friendly and chatty, her conversation revealed so much. "I just got out of jail today," she said, as though that happens to all of us.
"Oh.....I'm so sorry," said my feeling, shivering, shocked self, as we exchanged information and awaited police.
Strange response? I suppose so, since really aren't we supposed to be happy when someone gets out of jail? That's better than going in, after all. My heart felt sorrow over her jail-riding lifestyle, but I didn't think till later how odd my response probably sounded to her.
Domestic violence isn't something I've ever experienced, but in the last year I've encountered three people who've been in jail for it, this girl being the third. How odd that I reached 40-something, just now aware that for many people, jail for domestic violence is a common experience.
When the highway patrol arrived at the scene of our accident, she told me, giggling, "Wow, this is the first time I've encountered the police and wasn't scared."
I think I just smiled, not having the wherewithal to respond otherwise.
But it pained me to hear it...that her life was that dysfunctional and yet she was happy and chatty. So lacking shame.
She seemed lucid and I didn't smell alcohol, but later I remembered that drug users can seem normal. Was that why she was so chatty, revealing so much in her happy-go-lucky way?
A township police officer arrived later to help the highway patrol. More witty than I, when she told him, giggling, that she'd gotten out of jail that day, he said with a chuckle, "Well...then it was a good day before this."
She walked up to me later, saying, "Well, at least the police officers are nice. That one is really handsome."
In my slow-witted, shy way, I could only smile at that as well, amused at her youth. He was probably 20 years my junior.
If my body hadn't been trembling from temperature and shock, I might have said that whether a man is handsome or not doesn't mean much to me now, married thirteen years...especially when they're young enough to be my sons.
The paperwork all done, the photographs taken, and the girl cited, Mr. Handsome drove me home, my van finally on its way to a tow yard. Bless his heart, he lugged my groceries and miscellaneous bags too. New on our township force, he was grateful to have a job.
He spoke about domestic violence, the girl having admitted that's why she was in jail. He said it's almost always because of substance abuse, like so many other domestic problems.
Sympathetic, he mentioned how sad the scenarios are. These people grow up around these same problems... and life is hard enough these days just holding down a job and paying bills. They have much haunting them on top of normal problems and often they don't even realize it. As the girl's manner revealed, getting in and out of jail seems like a typical experience to them.
I hadn't thought much drugs with Lexie's mother and boyfriend, but now I wonder.
Lexie's never come back after her mom's fight with her own father (Lexie's grandfather). It's been nearly a month and she changed schools as well; I assume they're living with the mother's boyfriend.
I pray for her often, reminiscing in my heart about her sweet little face and her surprising ways. I pray that her commitment to the Lord will grow stronger even while there's deep dysfunction around her.
The last time she was here for Bible study I taught her to pray using the ACTS acronym, telling her she could pray about anything and the Lord would give her peace. A peace all her own that no one could take from her.
Little did I know that would be one of the last times I'd see her.
Oh, my readers...we never know what tomorrow will bring. God wants us to share Him every day, as though we'll never have another chance. Each day, we must awaken with the knowledge that to God, this is just one more day to have a soul secured for eternity.
It's not another day to pick up some things from Walmart and sweep the kitchen floor, but a day that to someone, might mean Life itself.
The officer pulled into my driveway and helped unload my groceries.
I expressed my thanks and bid him goodbye, brought the groceries in, closed the door, and mourned for all humanity.
It seemed the most fitting ending for my experience with a giggly girl who got out of jail...and then hours later totaled my van.
The next day I began praying in earnest for that twenty-something girl. She caused problems for us, sure, but nothing the Lord didn't plan.
We need a new computer and I want it desperately so I can open several windows at a time, study Bible commentary and go back and forth and reread and contemplate meanings and verses, formulating a mindset and spiritual direction that fits my own heart and life as relates to the scriptures. I want to click on my e-mails and have them open reliably. I want a computer that doesn't slow me down and remind me of why even American-style poverty stinks.
But instead we're looking for a used van to replace ours, hoping for a God-designed miracle for $5500 cash, thanks to a tax credit and the expected meager State Farm reimbursement for the van. We paid $4000 for our Toyota Sienna in 2005 and drove it over 100,000 miles, taking it up to 226,000 miles before its untimely death.
So I know God provides reliable wheels for his people. He can even put an updated computer in my lap if he thinks I need it.
This Melina girl....she needed to smack into a Christian's minivan on Tuesday night.
She needed someone to pray that sometime this year...even this week...her heart would be transformed and she'd be compelled to weep at the foot of the cross, thankful for her Jesus.
Her saving, redeeming Jesus.
And the rest of us...the ones who don't call jail home? We need to be smacked into too. We forget all too easily...."There but for the grace of God go I."