Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Girl at the Door

Twelve years ago in the middle of the night, I found myself regaining consciousness in a Days Inn of Maumelle, Arkansas.  As my eyes dared to open, pain surged through my head and body. I winced as I tried to turn and get up.  I felt like I'd been hit by a truck and I couldn't remember a thing about where I was, who I was with, or how I came to be waking up in this dark hotel room, but within seconds the memories, many of which I wont share, began crashing in.  Though they were still foggy and coming faster than I could process, I was at least aware of the room, myself, and a cloudy recollection of my friends who certainly must be somewhere nearby.  Nothing could have prepared me for the two strange Hispanic men I saw in their place seconds after my vision came into focus.  My friends were nowhere to be seen, and as I struggled to think and move at the same time, I realized I wasn't even fully dressed.  Suddenly, terror began to well within my core as I quickly scrambled to find my clothes, phone, and other personal belongings that accompanied me earlier in the night.  Though my head felt like it weighed a hundred pounds, I quickly dressed and searched for anything that was mine, but found nothing.  As both men began to stand, I spoke the first words through building tears and rising vomit, and asked "who are you?" but received no reply.  Instead, they looked at me and then at each other and I knew I had to get out fast.  As one of the men moved towards the door, I caught a glimpse of the other one moving in behind me as I also moved towards the door, but within seconds I had my hand on the knob and dashed out.  Not knowing where to turn or what to do, I began knocking on every door in a desperate search for my friends, but it wasn't until recently that I actually saw the girl at the door.

Fast forward to 2013 in a hotel room in Oklahoma City, OK.  Last month, my family drove back to California from a month long stay in Missouri and Arkansas, and after grabbing a bite to eat at the end of our first day of travel, we were ready to settle in.  Around 11:00 at night, however, we heard a knock at the door.  Startled by it, I looked over at our son sleeping in the bed and then asked my husband if it was a good idea to answer.  After looking through the peephole and seeing a young twenty something year old female on the other side, he shrugged his shoulders and said it was probably okay, but when he answered it, she apologized and said she had the wrong room.  Still a bit unnerved by the late night disturbance, yet relieved she was gone, I went on to get ready for bed, but within just a few minutes there was another knock at the door.  This time, I was closer than Sam, so I looked through the peephole and saw her.  Nervously, I opened the door, but never dreamed I would see the girl at the door from 12 years ago.

As our eyes met, I saw her vulnerability through the fear in her eyes and the anxiety on her face.   She wasn't just lost, she was shaken, but by what I didn't know. I could see that she was scared and needed help, but the instantaneous whirlwind of memories and emotions that came flooding my soul as I stood there looking at her rendered me immobile and speechless.  "Sorry, I have the wrong room," she apologized for a second time, and with that she turned to walk away.  As I slowly closed the door, I knew I had just been faced with the girl of my yesterday on one of the worst nights of my life, but this time I saw what it was like to be on the other side of the door.  Though I was scared that night, so too were the people in their rooms as my knocking must have startled them as this girl's startled me. As I pounded in sheer terror on multiple hotel room doors that night all those years ago, I was desperate for someone to help me, but no one did.  Instead, the search party that had been out looking for me earlier in the night had called it quits and returned to their stations.  I was alone, helpless, and terrified.  Remembering those feelings that night in Oklahoma, I began to pray.  Suddenly, I felt compelled to go to this girl's aid because although I didn't know what kind of help she needed, I knew what it was like to be the girl at the door.

I wish this story had a different ending, but as it turns out I didn't go outside to help her that night.  I went into the bathroom and pleaded with Jesus to tell me what to do.  I told Him that if He wanted me to go talk to her, I would, but that I was afraid of what she might be involved in so He needed to make it clear.  Within minutes of praying, my husband said he was going out to get ice and would look for her to make sure she was okay.   When he came back he said he saw her sitting down on the sidewalk a few feet away, talking on the phone and crying.  Hurt for her that she was crying, but relieved she had a phone, I asked Sam if I should go out and talk to her.  "No, she has a phone, so she's not cut off from help. Leave it be."  I took this as my answer from the Lord, but I was unable to just leave it be.  I fell asleep seeing the mirror I stared into when I opened the door and saw her face as time travel forced me to recall a night I longed to forget.  As I woke the next morning, I again lifted her up in prayer and asked God to take care of her, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I should have done more.  I was angry with myself because I knew that fear was what truly kept me from going to her.  A thousand "what ifs" went through my mind and chained me to the room and I knew it.  "What if she was involved in a drug deal gone wrong?" What if she was being threatened by people who would  then become a threat to my own family if we got involved?" What if, what if, what if? The list can always go on, but what if she was just a scared twenty something year old girl like I was who just genuinely needed someone to take a chance and help her? What I wouldn't have given that night 12 years ago just to hear someone say, "Let me help you..." and yet when I had the opportunity to be that helping hand, I let fear and not faith dictate my course. Never again. 

Why did she come back to the same room twice, and in just a few minutes?  Why did I, and not Sam, answer the door that second time?  Why was I able to see myself staring back at me through her eyes as she stood on the other side of the door, the same place where I stood 12 years ago?  There are no accidents in this life, and true faith always requires action, and often demands risk.  Consider Esther, who must have been terrified to break the law of going to the king, knowing it could cost her her life.  Look how she responds though in 4:16: "if I perish, I perish!" (Esther 4:16).  Because of the risk involved, this was undoubtedly a difficult decision to make, as evidenced by her exchange with Mordecai in chapter four (see verses 10-16), but because she chose faith over fear, she was able to save the lives of all the Jews.  Like Esther, we must rise up against fear and act in faith when we're met by the girl at the door.  Don't shrink away because of the "what if" scenarios in your head.  Step out and say to the girl at the door, "let me help you."

"Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him." - 2 Samuel 10:12

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