We had finished school for the day, were saying goodbyes, and then Elizabeth, Ana and I decided to walk to Starbucks. We had some time to kill since I had an hour and a half until I needed to pick up my brother. It was a nice day, a nice walk- nothing spectacular. Elizabeth asked all about Jr. year and Ana contemplated if she would return next year (she's an exchange student from China).
We rounded the corner, and were just across the street from Starbucks when we walked by a woman, sitting, holding a cardboard sign. About five feet later something in me screamed "GO BACK"- so I did. Elizabeth and Ana caught on to what I was doing and didn't miss a beat.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, has an unusual way with words and people. She walked right up to the woman and said "I feel like you need a hug". She was shocked, of course, but accepted the affection.
The woman put down the sign and on the back was something so simple and heartbreaking: God please give me the strength and the trust that i need
We talked for a bit. She told us her story and how she has been running into trouble with her abusive ex-husband, and is going to court tomorrow. As the conversation progressed, it was clear that she's a Christian. She explained how Francis Chan (who's one of my favorite, as well) has been a light in her life, how his sermons gave her the strength to get out of the relationships.
The way she talked about God was so raw and open. She obviously isn't in the best part of her life, but she's managed to hold onto hope, even though she's felt bitter and angry. She knows that God's grace will cover her.
We offered to buy her lunch. She declined, but asked for a soda- diet pepsi to be exact. When we gave her the soda, she held up a pack of cigarettes.
"I've got five left in here. It's the last five I'll ever smoke." Her voice was a voice of conviction and bravery and uncertainness and the brokenness.
Before leaving, we prayed together. We went our separate ways, one to a support group and three to a cup of coffee.
Sometimes it's important to talk to people. It's hard, I know, and sometimes it's just not the right time, but sometimes it is. Sometimes someone needs reassurance that there's a light at the end of the tunnel or something like that.
Sometimes you just need a diet soda and a prayer.