North Texas can get fairly chilly in the winter for your friend and mine. Cold air fronts move down out of Canada and, with nothing but plains and prairie in the way, the wind can bite you pretty good. I holed up at night, out of the wind, in a little cubby behind a Discount tire store in a small town outside of Fort Worth called Mansfield.
I first found myself homeless and close to crazy in the Florida Keys seven years earlier. I was pretty sure, at that point, I was going to hell and was being punished for things had transpired in my childhood. I was molested at nine years old by a Judo instructor. I had carried that memory all my life with very little discussion. I imagined that I had put it behind me.
But the wound was deeper than I thought. While working for a newspaper in Florida, a memory surfaced that was violent and, in my mind, disgusting. I lasted another year at my job then found myself on the streets running from the guy who I imagined was still after me. Seven years of living on the streets brought me to that bleak night behind the tire store.
On one of those nights behind the tire store I was crawling into my sleeping bag and feeling sorry for myself as usual. I had been carrying all that rage and shame of being molested all of my life. I always just ignored it, tried to pretend it wasn’t there. But that is hard to do when it is cold, and you are feeling alone. They are right there in the pit of your stomach churning away like so many demons in possession of a graveyard.
Well at some level I must have said enough. I was standing with my bag around me when I heard myself spontaneously say, “God I need some help with this,” in reference to my emotions. As I lay down on the asphalt, I was too into punishing myself to use a ground pad, well within seconds I felt some love move through my heart and into all that rage and shame. I slept very deeply that night. It was the first of many turning points that happened that year, By the next Christmas I was at home with my family in Idaho.
Now, I have put those demons to rest. I’ve even forgiven the man who abused me. The weather here has shifted toward the arctic, reminding me of my years on the streets, and in particular that night in North Texas.
My biggest fear when I first found myself homeless was that God did not love me anymore. A lot of you folks may wonder the same thing, and if there is a God, well, can He help? My point is God is always right there waiting for us to get over our pride and our doubts and lean on him. You don’t have to go it alone folks, the one who knows you better than you know your own self is always right there waiting to serve. “Ask and you will receive,” as Christ put it.
That night in North Texas, I asked.
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