She had started off simple enough smoking pot in high school at a party. It was fun and became an every weekend occurrence with her and her best friend. The following year they started getting high before school, at lunch, after school and sometimes she would go out for a walk after dinner and smoke a little just to take the edge off. One day they tried a little speed and that was fun. It gave her a lot of energy and she liked being alert while the pot made her so mellow. It was a good mixture. One day a guy at a party offer them some meth. It was inexpensive and they thought it would be fun. It was her friend’s birthday so she bought her a hit. The high was exhilarating but the down had taken both of them down further than they ever had been before. It was depressing and in order to maintain a level of normalcy she bought another hit the next day. Just a little to get her back to the “normal” feeling so she could then stop. The problem was “normal” never came back. Before long things were spiraling out of control. She needed the meth to maintain and was running out of money. First she stole money from her mom and dad and even her little brother. That turned out bad and alienated them from her. She started turning tricks because men would pay her to have sex with them. She was young and good looking, at first. The lows consistently got lower and before long she didn’t care how she looked which in turn affected how much guys would pay to have sex with her. Her friend spiraled out of control faster and harder than herself. They had fallen into a toilet bowl and someone had flushed the toilet. One day Linda’s best friend had a bad trick. He beat her and made her do things sexually she had never done before. Afterwards she could not stand to look at herself adding that to the low from the addiction to Meth she wandered around the streets aimlessly completely hopeless. Linda followed trying to pull her out of the hole she felt like she had fallen into but her friend would not respond. She had nothing to live for. She had lost everything, a nice place to live, her family and now even her self-respect. She was walking over an overpass over the freeway and stopped. She stared at the traffic coming towards her. It wouldn’t take much to just jump off this bridge. Maybe a few seconds of fear but then it would be over. She was so tired of being thrown around and forced to engage in every degrading kind of sex that a guy could dream up. This would solve all of her problems. She didn’t even know where she was going to sleep tonight. The last time she saw her mom she had been so disgusted with her. Her dad wouldn’t even talk to her. He called her a slut. The first time he called her that she had cried. It hurt so badly, and then it made her angry. She got so angry that she purposely took the rougher clients to get back at her dad. He would be sorry some day she thought, but he never was. Why didn’t he understand that all she wanted was a hug and for him to be proud of her. Why was that so difficult to see? Why couldn’t he tell her that she was his little girl. Something was pulling her to the rail, like a moth to a flame. She was sure that she could hear a voice inviting her into the next world. It would be better after she died. The pain would be gone for good. There would be no more guys trying to touch and prod her. She swung her leg over the rail. Cars were honking at her like they were inviting her to jump. It was going to be okay now. She heard someone calling to her over the honking horns and the rush hour traffic. Something was compelling her to let go, whispering for her to fly. She let go one finger at a time in slow motion until there was only one finger left. She felt it slip slowly then releasing into a last desperate attempt to fly away from her hopeless reality into the grill of a loaded dump truck.
Linda watched in horror. She had screamed at the top of her lungs for her friend but she was deep into a trip on meth. She was gone for good. Linda was completely alone now. She knew better than to hang around. The traffic from both directions were stopped and backed up. Sirens were getting louder. She started walking aimlessly; heartbroken, hungry, cold and so alone. Walking in complete numbness, oblivious to her surroundings, all night and all day. It was getting dark again. She heard faint music coming from somewhere but could not place where for certain. She was drawn to it. The melody was familiar and somehow comforting. She had heard that song once before when life was simpler. Through her meth induced stupor she was drawn to the music pulled by an invisible force that she could not or did not want to control. She had given up on trying to control anything in her life and just followed the tug. It was coming from a church building. She walked up the steps. The large wooden doors were open and creaked when she went through them. Hearing the sound of the closing door, some of the young people turned and stopped singing in shock to see her standing in their sacred place of worship. She could see it on their face. She was a whore. Dressed in a short skirt, blouse with no bra, more makeup than usual to cover side effects of nasty bruise a guy had given her for payment and the meth aging around her eyes. It was the attire of the trade she had been forced to work. The girl playing the guitar and leading the music stopped for a second when their eyes met but regained her rhythm quickly. Everyone was dressed much differently than she. Although out of place, the building was warm and so was she. Maybe she could sit there just long enough for the chill to go away. She did not fit in with these people. She sat in the last row close to the door in case she needed to escape. When the music stopped Erica invited Linda to come closer and join the group. Everyone turned to look at her and she could feel the judgment and condemnation for who she was. It was more than Linda could take and she got up and walked out the door. Erica gave her bible and her lesson for the night to the first person she passed and headed at a run out of the church. She met Linda going down the front steps.
“Hey, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot! Please forgive me!”
Linda turned to look at her but couldn’t say anything. Inside of her she wanted to cry out but the words wouldn’t come. She saw the true love of someone that honestly cared for her. She wanted to cry but couldn’t and just sat down where she was. Erica sat down next to her and put her arm around her. Linda was shaking uncontrollably. Erica could feel the leanness of her thin body. She asked Linda if she was hungry. Linda nodded. Tears were coming now, streaming down her face. She felt the love in Erica’s touch. Not the touch of a man wanting to fulfill his desire but love of a sister, a friend, like how her mom used to touch her when she was little. She had not felt that gentle touch in so long and it was almost painful.
Erica took her hand and led her to her car. She set her in the passenger seat and ran back in the church to get her coat and purse. Everyone wanted to know what was going on with that girl. Erica asked one of her friends to take over for the night that she was going to take Linda to get something to eat.
Driving to a hamburger joint around the corner Erica asked her name. “Linda” was all she said. Erica did not press further. Linda was eyeing this new person. She had learned not to trust anyone because no one was trustworthy in her world. This person was different, she wasn’t sure why. She had a genuine urgency and concern for her well-being. She wanted to trust her but was too afraid to try.
Erica pulled up to the speaker and asked Linda what she wanted. Linda shrugged not looking at the menu. Noting the response Erica took it upon herself to order a double cheeseburger deluxe with a large fry and a chocolate shake. They sat in silence while Linda wolfed down her sandwich. When she was finished she burped out load accidently and apologized quietly and then said “Thank You.” Linda felt like she could trust this new friend. Erica listened quietly when Linda began telling her story. She tried not to show how shocked at what Linda was telling her, but she had never heard anything about this lifestyle before.
For Linda, there was a release sharing what the last few months had built up to and watching her friend kill herself. She had been carrying it and never realized how it had tightened all of the muscles in her back, neck and shoulders. The difference was physically noticeable. One by one the knotted muscles relaxed.
Erica was prompted to ask her if she knew Jesus. Linda told her that was what had brought her to the church that night when she heard that song they were singing. “Put your eyes upon Jesus, Look into His wonderful face… My grandma used to sing that song to me when I was a little girl but, no I don’t know Him. I don’t think He wants to know me either. I saw how everyone looked at me when I came into the church. I don’t fit in there.”
“Oh Linda, Jesus wants to know you so much! That is why He called you into our church! We are all sinners that have been forgiven with His grace! You caught everyone by surprise tonight. If you give them a chance they will love on you.”
“I am so tired of people lovin on me!” and they both laughed!
Jesus has something better for you Linda. “He will take the addiction away all you have to do is ask Him.”
“Really Erica? I want that so much. I am so afraid that I am going to end up like my friend in the middle of the freeway.”
“Let’s pray” Erica grabbed a hold of Linda’s hand “Dear heavenly Father, I thank you so much for my new friend Linda and for bringing her into our church tonight. Lord she is going through a really tough time in life right now. I ask that you touch her heart, heal her pain and Lord please cure her of her addiction. Lord you know what she needs in this life and I ask that you please give her what she needs. You and I both know that she needs you and when she is ready Lord I ask that you lay it on her heart to call upon your name. Your word says that anyone that calls on your name will be saved. That you stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears your voice and answers you will come into them and sup with them. Linda heard your knock tonight and answered.”
Linda interrupted saying “Yes Lord, I am so sorry that I am a sinner. My life has not gone the way that I wanted it to go. Jesus I am scared, I don’t know what to do. Please help me!”
Erica felt Linda’s hand jump and she opened her eyes. Linda was looking at Erica in surprise mascara running down from her eyes. “What was that?”
“What?” Erica said.
“Something just flushed through my body.” she said dropping her hands from Erica’s. “Seriously, something is different. I don’t know what it is but it is way different! That down depressing feeling is not here right now. This is kind of freaking me out!”
“I think that was Jesus. He just answered your prayer.” Erica said with a big smile on her face. “I am telling you that doesn’t happen all of the time. Sometimes people don’t feel the touch of the Lord, not to say that they are not saved by His grace but it is just different.”
“I think you are right!” Linda said excitedly “I feel so different.”
“Do you have a place to stay tonight?” Erica asked.
“Not really, I usually try to get into the rescue mission or one of the shelters but I think it is too late to check in now.”
“I have a couch and a sleeping bag if you want you are welcome to crash at my place tonight.”
“Thank you. but I can sleep on the street.” Linda said reluctantly.
“Ya, no. That’s not going to happen.” and she headed to her apartment.
Erica called Robin from her bedroom after they got home and Linda was settled on the couch.
“Hi Mom, what was the name of that recovery group where you met daddy? I have to tell you about what happened tonight at Bible study!