At a Collide event this winter, I walked up to a girl who had been invited by a friend from AA. I introduced myself and said “How are you doin’?” She said “Not good”, but then she giggled. I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or serious so I probed a bit more. She said she had few panic attacks that day and that she wasn’t into the whole God thing. But then she looked at me almost stumped and said “But I don’t know what just happened to me. I met that blond lady who taught my breakout session…whats her name? Whatever just happened for some crazy reason I just agreed to let her pick me up and take me to church tomorrow.” I said “I know what just happened to you. God is about to change your life.” She laughed like crazy. She looked as if she was dizzy and shocked, like she herself couldn’t believe it. And low and behold I saw her at church the next day.
I met with that woman a few weeks ago for coffee. The story that led her to walk in those doors broke my heart. Her mother was an addict and gave her up when she was 5 years old. She lived in foster home after foster home after foster home and then herself became an addict and married an abusive addict. She was sent to a clean and sober house in far far away from where she lived to break the chains of an abusive marriage and a nasty addiction. She came here to start a new life. We sat over coffee and laughed and she shared deeply. When she walked into Collide she laughs telling the story, she jokes saying her friend tricked her. She assumed she was coming to an AA meeting and all of sudden she was sitting in these pews hearing about God. God had always been a vengeful, angry mad man who in her words “who will cash you into hell like that.” Who needs another abusive man anyway, I thought?
This girl has never had a sense of family. She said “I don’t know how to swim, I have never gone on vacation or done basic things other people get to.” She was describing her life and was quite scared because she was just told before we met that her housing allowance was running out in June and she would be homeless. She looked at me scared. She said “I cant go back there. I cant go backwards.” She has been clean for 10 months, going to recovery programs, taking classes at school, going to therapy to deal with all her triggers and now she finds herself going to church, praying and reading scriptures everyday, facing the thought of going backwards.
I left that meeting and felt I needed to do a few things. One, she needed help with her housing situation. I called some friends that work with the system and then her new friend Cris, who drives her to church every week. Cris asked a recovering alcoholic and his wife who understand the struggle of addiction and the power of Christ. They have agreed to come alongside her and advocate on her behalf to help get her in a place where she can only walk forward instead of backwards!
Then I got so excited about my next idea that I was like a giddy kid! I messaged my friend Lindsay who teaches swim lesson at the country club. I asked if she would be willing to teach an adult swimming lessons. She said she would love to be apart of this story! So the plan was to go shopping for a bathing suit and in she goes! Swimming means keeping your head above water. It means survival, it means being able to swim to shore when the waters are rough, and then it means diving, snorkeling, scuba diving and seeing beauty and color. It means adventure and going to the beach with your friends in a yellow polka dot bikini and drinking lemonade and eating potato chips and going for a dip.
God is trying to give a woman back family who has never had a family. God is trying to give a woman an education who never had an education. God is trying to give a woman back dignity who hasn’t been given the dignity she deserves. God is impacting this woman’s life and He is doing it through people. God used a woman from AA to invite her to Collide. God used another women to listen and drive and invest in her life. God is using the husband and wife team to advocate on her behalf. God is using a swim lesson teacher to bless her. I tell you this story- because this story is a picture of what could happen all over our village if we together enter into the lives of those who need it. It takes a village to change a villager.
Come back soon and I will tell you how her first swim lesson went!