Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God Was at the Park

He was. And I almost missed Him.

I had taken the kids because it was that sort of weather where you feel like you need to repent if you stay in doors. The kind of weather where the sunshine envelops your every step, and you ask yourself, "Were those trees that green yesterday?" That kind of weather.

We had been there for a while already--Keagan had pushed Kate in the swing, I had pushed him, he scuffled down the slides and dug in the rocks. I was tired. As I followed Kate under the pavilion with picnic tables and a cluster of women, I purposefully kept my head down, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, or else I might be stuck in a situation where I'd feel obligated to actually be kind and talk to someone, right? I could "hear" them watching Kate and feel their eyes on us, admiring how cute she is. I looked up and nearly laughed at the irony of who I was looking at.

Over the past couple of years, God has placed this...thing...upon me with this person and parks. She doesn't even live in our town; yet, I run into her (almost only at parks) quite often. And each time I meet her, the relationship gets deeper.

God gets in a little bit further.

Today as I stood and looked into her tired but bright, brown eyes, she unraveled each step of one tragedy after another through her twenty-five years. She was neglected and bruised as a little girl...only to be abandoned by her very own mother--her mother, who birthed her, but could not save her. She was molested as a thirteen year old by an uncle. The man she married and had three children with cared nothing of them and even less of her. He beat her bloody, inflicting damages that only surgery can repair. He is more than 13,000 dollars behind in child support. He doesn't care if his children live or die. She married again, and so far, has suffered no abuse.

Watching and listening to her tell her story was heart breaking and gut wrenching. The idea that someone else could have hurt her so deeply is hard to take in...especially while I was literally right in front of her. A little less than a year ago, I had told her some about our church family and how different and loving they are.

She remembered that.

And she asked about it today. She asked me to bring her name up in prayer when I go to be with these people. She said she knows God has a purpose for her simply because she isn't dead. And she doesn't question God...she isn't angry with Him. Despite the beatings, the molestation, the abandonment, the neglect, she knows that God is still good. God is still good.

My heart was overwhelmed with humility and compassion for this young lady and her three children. She cares so much for her children. Her eyes brimmed over with tears as she spoke of the blessing they have been to her, and what she would do were anything to happen to them. This is why she lives an entire state away from her immediate family...so her children will be safe from the man who fathered them.

Another uncanny thing happened in the midst of all this, too. This young lady needed to open up and lay her heart out before me, to feel a brush with Jesus, but it was difficult for me to give her my full attention with two small children to monitor on the play equipment.

But God specializes in details.

Kate was inching up steps that a 16 month old has no business forging. I headed toward her to pull her back down to the rock-filled ground, and saw a neighbor from my childhood whom I hadn't seen in so long. She had never seen my daughter, except in pictures, and hadn't noticed my presence yet. But she was going in to take care of my daughter anyway. When she discovered I was there and that this was my little girl, she wanted to hold her for a while.

And so, I was able to continue listening to the other lady. What gives me chills is that the most important pieces of our conversation actually happened while Kate was being watched and held by my childhood neighbor. Had my neighbor not shown up, the conversation between me and the young lady may not have gone toward Jesus.

And He's kind of a big deal, isn't He?

As she cried, we hugged and talked about how God has this all tied together and has a purpose for her life and for her children's lives. The other women who were sitting with her were clearly not comfortable with the likes of me, as they called me a "church-going woman." I wanted so desperately to object, to tell them that I'm not like that...that they could be themselves around me. But words just don't accomplish that like actions do. And so, I resolved to just do my best to "show" them that I love Jesus and don't simply go to church every Sunday.

I honestly don't know what all God spoke to her shattered heart this afternoon, but I do know what He spoke to mine.

This is what I meant when I asked you to love people.
This is what I meant when I asked you to be generous.
This is what I meant when I asked you to be available.
This is what I meant when I asked you to slow down.
You are not here for your own agenda.
You're here for Mine.

I can't believe I almost missed this.

Peace of Christ to you,


  1. I loved reading this story!
    How amazing it is that God is able to bring everything back to him and remind us of who he is...and who he wants us to be to others.
    Thanks for sharing with this lady.
    And thanks for sharing the story with us.

  2. Oh yeah, Great new pics on your side bar!