Friday, August 22, 2008


A few weeks ago I had a porcelain doll left beside our door. I didn't know when it had been placed there, and I didn't know who delivered it. But she was beautiful; all 18 inches of her. With her long brown silky locks and bright eyes smiling. She was dressed in a full winter white fur coat, complete with muff and matching hat, and of course the white lace up boots. I knew she must be for my daughter, but I just wasn't sure from whom she came.

Later on, my neighbor asked if I had gotten the gift that his friend had left. I realized then, that it was from my friend, who has lived in the house beside me for the past 3 years. He went on to say that she had left, and had taken the 12 hour bus ride to Connecticut to spend "some time" with her boys. Now, if you're familiar at all with how transient inner city lifestyles can be, you would know, that basically it meant, "She's gone."

As he told me, all I thought was, "I didn't get to say goodbye."

She is a beautiful woman, described by most people with words like "addict", "dirty", "ignorant", "prostitute". My kids just see her as a warm welcoming lady who doesn't always look happy, and sometimes acts a little strange. I know she used to be a dancer. I know she's a mother and a grandmother. I know she lived in a house without lights for almost a year. I know she doesn't like who she sees when she looks in the mirror. I know that she aches for healing, but has no clue how to have it. I know that she's broken and wants to be whole.

One of the last times I saw her, she was hunched over clinging to her knees, sitting at the end of my walkway, where it meets the sidewalk. Crying in desperation. Her two grandsons were with her, even though the hour was late. I walked up and put my hand on her back and started to pray for her. I could feel her bones aching for relief. After we prayed for a few minutes, she sat up. And what she was clinging to was what looked like a church's pew copy of the Holy Bible. I just thought, "I have no idea how broken and desperate she is." And I have no idea how God can free her from this hell that she lives in. But I know that He hears her. I know that He aches for her to know deliverance and redemption.

This song asks, "Did he do it to himself? Or was it done to him?" And I wonder that about my friend. She definitely has made choices that have kept her where she is, I'm not excusing her for her own decisions. But when you're brought into the cycle at such a young age, and have no idea how you're going to survive, unless you sell yourself so that you can eat. Or have a roof over your head. Did she do it to herself, or was it done to her? It doesn't really matter either way. What matters is that she is loved by One who is greater than this world. Greater than any addiction. Greater than any situation. Now that she's gone, I just pray that somehow she would choose to cling to the Great One. And that she would somehow be made whole.

I hope I get to see her again one day. And I hope that she looks so different that I barely recognize her. Please join me in praying that this would be a new life for her. That she would be set free, and that her life would be redeemed from the depths of the mire. I hope that she comes to believe that He is able to do incomparably more than we ask or imagine, and that she sees how beautiful she truly is.


Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Melissa - this was powerful! I will lift her up in prayer. I can't even imagine and so often people hurting like that are all around us and we don't even notice. Thanks for being in a place where you notice and take the time to make the difference.

Sara said...

i am so thankful for you and your family and your willingness to serve...for the compassion inside of you. it was such a blessing for me to see you yesterday and to see where you encouraged me. I will be praying for your friend....thank you so much for my new furniture...I can't even tell you how excited and thankful i am. love you!

kelly said...

what a post, melissa. i think this might be your best. thank you for being a friend and a sister to her. i know the lord is using you in many more ways than you'll ever even know.