“What’re ya doin’ over here?” Briauna asked her. Nicole stared blankly and meekly held up the cup for us to read.
“You’re hungry?” I asked. “How would you like to get food with us?”
“Ya time to get up off the floor girl, we’re going to be your new best friends.” Briauna took her cup and helped her up off the ground.
“It’s okay guys, you don’t need to do this,” she hesitated. “I don’t want you to have to take me along with you.”
We ignored her complaints and started up conversation with her. I noticed the two books she was sitting on in her hands, and the top one read Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.
“You like these books?” I asked. “I read these all the time when I was growing up!” I was intrigued, because she seemed to be in her twenties; either our age or older.
“Ya, there are a lot of really good stories in here. It helps me a lot to read them.”
We went to Penn Station and we walked inside to buy her a sub. After telling me she didn’t want me to buy her a meal and after me insisting that she stop and just let me pay for her and after her finally consenting to it, she started asking me questions. It was interesting. It’s usually supposed to be the other way around.
Supposed to be.
As if there are rules and regulations and an agenda to get through when taking someone out to eat. Sometimes I disgust myself.
Anyways, she asked us how old we were, if Briauna and I were best friends, why we came here from AZ, where we went to school, what kind of girls we were in high school, why we do things like the thing we were doing for her. She was deep. And it caught me off guard. I liked her. She was only 19. On the streets. She wasn’t homeless, just hungry. Her boyfriend was in and out of a job, as far as I could understand, and while he went out doing whatever he did to make money, he sent her to the corner to panhandle. I asked if she could ever just go home for a while to get off the streets and stay with her family.
Family. This is something I am learning so easily wrecks a person’s life. She told me in vague detail that home was not a safe place to go to. She told us her mother is abusive and she didn’t want to be around that during her pregnancy. Nicole was pregnant. 19 and pregnant. It was abrupt and our hearts were hurting.
We got our food and went outside where Briauna was saving us a table. While we were inside, Briauna had been sitting at the table deep in thought and had a journal she brought with her hoping to find someone to give it too. While we were inside she felt like she was supposed to file the empty prayer journal with encouraging quotes that were specific to use in Nicole’s life. Nicole had left her books on the table, and Briauna noticed the second book she had been sitting on: Teen Pregnancy. The reality of her being young and pregranat was suddenly sinking in.
Nicole and I sat down with Briauna, and as we continued to eat and continued to talk, Nicole began opening up more and more to us. And boy, did she have an incredible heart.
She was living with her boyfriend. He is 37. “I’m not homeless.” She told us. “I am just hungry. David is in and out of a job so I come out here to panhandle so I can eat while he’s out.” My stomach started churning. “I can’t go home to eat. I don’t go around my mom. She was a really bad mom. I don’t tell people this, but she molested me all the time when I was little. She would bring me in and out of the house that she was seeing, and a lot of them raped me and sometimes her boyfriend would rape me. I have nightmares sometimes still; flashbacks of Sesame Street and Barney. These were the shows I watched every morning, and every morning is when this stuff happened to me. I’m sorry if I freaked you out… I usually don’t talk about this stuff but I feel like telling you.”
We were speechless. Tears welled in both our eyes. I glanced at Bri and she was in the same state:broken. Who could eat while listening to the reality of her life? What do you say to someone who has faced such dark, corrupt things her entire life? What do you say to a young girl who is pregnant with a child, which we find out isn’t even the child of the man she is living with but a different guy? What do you say to someone who has experienced something so much deeper than you will ever understand? This is what we came for: to care for the broken. But it is all so much deeper than we were anticipating. The heart of the Father is so deep and passionate, and when He gives you a piece of His heart, you feel deeply too. And it hurts.
I looked her in the eyes and just shook my head. “You are incredible.” She looked down. “I’m serious,” I said, “I see such a huge heart in you. You love so well. I cannot understand how you could possibly go through such traumatic experiences and come out the way you did. You realize this isn’t normal right? you have so much of the Lord in you. It doesn’t make any sense that you would be able to love so well in any other way. I am blown away by you.” Briauna shared with her that her heart was courageous. That the plans for her life were signficantly great judging by the way she handled the tragic things in her life. That God takes the open wounds of our lives and makes them Scars to share a story with others to influence others. She shared with us that she had called her mom and forgiven her. That she wanted to be an overcomer, not a victim.
She smiled and agreed that the Lord has been the only thing getting her through. “I am so excited for my child,” she said. “I just can’t wait to have a baby that I can just love, and lovewell. I want to love this baby so it grows up experiencing something I never got to experience.”
Who is this girl?? It was baffling. The depths of her heart were difficult to comprehend. She had something in her that could not be explained by her life or her story. It was so much bigger.
We continued to speak what God was actively putting on our hearts and and just encouraged her to be the woman that God created her to be, and to never forget that her value comes from the obvious presence of God in her life. That the love she had was greater than our comprehension, was clearly not normal, and came only from the Lord.
We left the restaurant and walked to a grassy field near my car. We asked if we could pray with her and she eagerly agreed.
“Could you please pray that I will continue to remember who I am and that I am above and not below; that I am a victor and not a victim?” We stared blankly at her. She put to words what we couldn’t. Of course we would. “Also,” she hesitated. “Could you just pray for David? Just pray that he controls his anger and that God would take the stress out of his life so he doesn’t get as mad.”
We began to pray for the next ten minutes for this incredible young woman. The effect that those 2 hours had on our day was surpassing many hundreds of other days in our lives. We finished, and Briauna handed her the journal. She told me later all the encouragement the Lord had given her to write down for Nicole had been spot on with most of the stuff Nichole had told us she was dealing with and going through, and she was excited for her to be impacted by it.
“Are you girls angels?” she had asked. “I swear you are. I had been praying for the longest time for a sign from the Lord and you girls just showed up.”
We laughed. Not angels, no. Just two young women who decided to take a step of faith and have eyes to see downtown Indianapolis in the way the Father might see it.
We are called to greatness, as are you. You and your abilities aren’t meant to be enjoyed by only you and a select few; the Lord equipped you to do great things that you couldn’t do on your own. He equipped you to affect people and change lives. This isn’t just a special, crazy story, though we will never forget it. This is the kind of stuff that is waiting to happen in each of your lives. You have to choose it. Don’t choose to be negligent to others circumstances. Choose to face it, and don’t assume you wouldn’t be able to help. The truth is, you can make a difference, it doesn’t have to be glamorous. It doesn’t even have to take much effort. When your heart hurts for the hurting. Let it hurt for a second, and then choose to take Action. The question is, will you seek out the beauty in the mess of others life even when it costs you something? You have much to offer, and sometimes it’s not enough to just feel sorry and continue walking by. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is Selfish. We’ve all been ignorant and felt helpless at one point or another…and that’s okay, but for us it is time to change. The truth is sometimes love requires Action.