HOOKERS, HEATHENS, AND ME

By Melissa Hawks:Hookers & Heathens I left early that dark morning, stopping to get gas on my way. It was freezing and rainy as I stood next to the gas pump, tears threatening to spill over and mix with the drizzle. Standing on tiptoe to keep my too long yoga pants from soaking in the puddles, I was so lost in my own painful thoughts I almost didn't hear her.

I was jerked from my inner turmoil when an "Excuse me," escaped her chattering teeth. She was beautiful and had a black eye. A leopard print chiffon shirt bared her stomach, a tiny skirt, and platform heels to rival the ones I tend to wear covered the rest of her. Her blonde fro curled wildly in all directions and her eye make-up was smeared from tears she had cried. At the moment, mine was a mirror image.

"Can I pay you $10 to give me a ride to my car in the parking garage over there? I just got beat up really bad by the last guy I was with. I don't mind riding in the backseat." The pain in her eyes.

"Get in the car, girl, and don't worry about paying me. A girl’s got to help a girl out." I didn't really put any thought into it. She was shivering and in pain. "Of course, I'll drive you. And no, you're not sitting in the backseat. Get up here in front." I tossed my bags in the backseat and made room for her.

She climbed up into my Jeep and began to cry. "This man. He just started slamming my head into the TV. Why am I still here? Why am I still doing this? I need to go home. Back to San Jose."

I was empty. Beyond empty. I was at the bottom of the pit called empty, broken open. All I could offer was this "Our choices, baby, we make them all by ourselves and we have to remember we are in control of our destiny. We have to choose better."

Sitting in my car with a prostitute/hooker/call girl who had just been beaten up by a john, I've never felt more broken. There were no words to her about God. There was just an understanding about her brokenness because I was experiencing it myself.

I think that's what love does in the face of broken. It doesn't look away. It holds the face of pain in its hands and says "you're not too much for me."

She must have seen that deep pain in me too, because right before climbing out of the car she leaned over. In a cloud of perfume she hugged me and kissed my cheek. "We're gonna make it, girl. We're gonna be okay," she whispered in my ear.

Some days we can only make one good choice in the midst of a dozen awful ones. Some days we can't rescue someone else. Some days we can not even rescue ourselves. Instead redemption comes from the most unlikely of sources.

No promises that we'll be unscathed or that we'll come out whole on the other side. No false illusion covering the a fact that it's a brutal and ugly process. Not even a pledge of some small beauty that awaits at the end. Only one simple truth. "We're gonna make it."

God speaks to me through hookers and heathens. Maybe because I'm not so different myself.

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