My heart has hovered the last day between a staggering weight and a boiling rage.
Saturday night I made a somewhat reluctant decision against my better judgement to attend a late night gathering and reunite with some of my best friends from high school. Although we’ve certainly grown apart since the days of mischief soaked hallways, my hesitation had nothing to do with these friends and everything to do with my 9:30 am shift the next morning. But for better or worse, new experiences with friends almost always win out over a good night’s sleep in my book.
A mustache themed party at a cramped apartment in West Campus would probably have been my last choice for a reunion locale, and yet, as we sat around our trash can punch and shared our lives amidst the flowing dance beats and occasional make out sessions, it did not seem to matter. Almost instantly the bonds of friendship were rekindled and I remembered just how much I love being around these guys.
After a couple hours of catching up, it was time to make an effort to get at least some sleep, so I said my goodbyes and headed home. I’ve been house sitting out at my parents, and on the peaceful drive through sleepy suburbia, I noticed the gas light flip on. Not wanting to deal with refueling in the morning, I weighed my options out of three different stations along the way, and ended up choosing the Shell closest to home. Filling up, it quickly became apparent that the pump wasn’t flowing correctly. Even on full blast, this thing was giving me maybe a gallon a minute. The frustration was building as I stood idly in the abandoned parking lot and thought about losing another 10 minutes of sleep. Absurd. It was already 2:30 am.
Wrapped in my own self pity, I suddenly realized a woman was walking, no running, up to the gas station from the highway. In accordance with typical Westlake mom fashion, she was dressed in an all white sweatsuit, Gucci bag in tote. My first thought was that her car had broken down, and yet at the same time, I was quickly realizing that couldn’t be the case. She was in far too frantic a state, hair slightly askew, and deep down, I already knew.
She made a wide skirt around the pumps, keeping a good distance from me, and finally I asked if she was alright. In a panicky voice, she responded by repeatedly asking if I was going to hurt her. After a fairly botched attempt at explaining I wanted to help, (how do you back that up to a complete stranger anyway? “Its ok, I’m a christian?”) she seemed to accept that I meant her no harm, and I asked if she needed a ride anywhere. She instantly responded yes that she would pay me to drive to a friend’s house, and announced that she was getting into the car.
At this point, the gas was still pumping at its excruciatingly slow rate, only a quarter of the way full, so I made small talk through the open driver door hoping to calm this lady down and help kill the time. After a basic introduction, she informed me while looking behind her that if a black Escalade drove up she would need to hide. Not even a minute later a pair of headlights came down the road, and sure enough I could see the Escalade just as it was turning into the parking lot. Head spinning, heart pounding, I told the woman to hide and she yelled back to close my door. Jerkily, I walked two steps and closed the door as my eyes fixed on the driver, obviously mad with rage and scanning the scene. There was a fury in his eyes that I have never seen before, and my mind was in hyperdrive with fight or flight scenarios. I was thinking about my golf clubs in the trunk and the keys in my pocket. I was thinking about engine speeds and exit routes and my phone in the car. And in a moment that felt like an eternity, the man drove within a few feet of me, finished his search, and tore off back onto the highway.
Catching my breath and starting to better realize the gravity of the situation, I dropped the gas pump and got into the car. The lady was still getting up from hiding deep in the footwell, and she explained that her husband had attacked her.
Driving out towards St. Edwards, my heart ached more and more as I heard this woman’s story and began to see the outright fear, shame, and brokenness that gripped her. She continually had to take deep breaths and remind herself that she was safe. This was a beautiful woman with a grade level daughter in private school, living in one of the most elite neighborhoods in Austin, and yet she was trapped in a repeatedly abusive household, in the middle of a heated divorce, and worried intensely about how her daughter would be affected.
Over and over throughout the story, we both kept coming back to the miracle that God had placed me where he did in that moment. And it was powerful to speak boldly into this woman’s life that God wanted more than to rescue her tonight but also to restore her heart and free her from this junk. She talked about how she had known for a while she needed to make a change, and as she sat and thought in a stranger’s car on her way to a safe place to stay, she was able to come to the conclusion that it was time. I’ve been learning that He can make things very clear in a storm.
She was still in a halfway panicked state when we checked the street for any signs of her husband’s car, and parted briefly after saying one more thank you when she saw her friend in the driveway. She left too quick before I could offer anything else, and even now, I’m not sure what I would have said with adequate time. The part of me that went to Sunday School believes that God is sovereign and protector and entirely in control of the situation, but I haven’t stopped thinking about that woman and her daughter and what I can do about the man responsible for harming them.
- neverlandadventures posted this