There’s a girl I keep thinking about. I’ve met her several times out on the track; I’ll call her “Red.”
I can’t get Red out of my head because of how defeated she is. And how helpless I feel to assist her in any way, to give her hope or to make a difference in her situation. I feel defeated for her and wish so desperately I had more comfort to give, or more eloquent words, or better answers. But life is shit for her. And it is scary. And it really feels impossible.
Red has tried running away from her pimp two times before, and each time he has found her. Once, she made it three month and thought she was free, but he showed up one day ending the elated freedom she thought she had found. She had gotten rid of her cell phone, deleted all online presence and moved across the country. HOW did he find her? She still has no clue other than his interconnectivity with others involved in trafficking all across the U.S.
Having to listen to her try and convince us that there was no way we could ever possibly help her was maddening. It was depressing. And I froze in the moment. All I could do was acknowledge how impossible the situation feels and even sounds, but confess that deep within my heart I believe in a God that is bigger and can conquer even that which is impossible. She smiled a little at that and said, “I guess one day it’ll work out, it just has to be the right timing, and I don’t think that’s now. But I’ll try again someday.”
I hope she will. I am inspired by her resilience, confidence and persistence. She is a fighter -and despite her impossible circumstances, she believes freedom can one day be hers. She just has to fight both an internal and external battle with defeat each day in an effort to get to that place.
Hope is a tricky thing.
There is a phrase that has come up again and again in my life as a mantra in the last couple of years; Spei Captiva Sum, I am a captive of hope. I first heard it echoed in the poems of the beautiful and talented poet LaDonna Witmer.
I am captivated by it because each day I have a choice of which side of hope I will live on. This hope is a double-edged sword. It is a battle between waiting for the promise of what lies ahead and falling into despair over the fact that it is not here yet.
And so I wait. And Red waits. And I choose the promised hope of a loving redemptive God on her behalf.
I pray for Red everyday. And many weeks I see her still standing on that street corner – some weeks bruised, battered and head down low. Other weeks standing tall. She is vibrant and has a life of things waiting before her. I believe in my gut that God loves her deeply and passionately and will come to her rescue when she is ready to try again.
But I also believe that hope fails, and things go wrong, and defeat takes over. Which side will I end up on today?
all the girls who fall, the girls
with bloody knees and weak
stomachs. For all the girls who
cling so fiercely to that one
final straw, who hold on
with nails and with desperate teeth.
For all the girls who stand
back up again, no matter
how awfully it hurts. For
the girls who get out of bed
even when the days are dark
and vague and endless.
For all the girls who believe
that falling is neither the end
nor the beginning. Just the
middle of a story that can
only be told with whispers
and unspoken groans.
For all the girls who learn
the secrets of falling, who
discover the strength of bootstraps
and the silence of hope. For
all the girls who get it and
for those who will, someday…”
-LaDonna Witmer, the secrets of falling
I am a captive of hope, and it is the HOPE that keeps me going.