This place can be rough and harsh and often it seems like people get stuck in cycles where there lives might never amount to anything worthwhile. But then last week I saw Jackie again. Jackie was a women I met on December 1st at 'World AIDS Day' in Ocean View at the rally Living Hope was holding at the free clinic. I was there to see my friend Joanne, in my support group, who was disclosing her HIV status in front of the community that day to encourage others to be tested. Many people were walking around the area, and one young girl came up and started talking to some of the Living Hope support group leaders. I noticed them praying with her later and she was crying. After the prayer I was introduced to her, and her name was Jackie. Then after a bit, one of the leaders was leading her in to the clinic because she was feeling sick. As the rally ended I was asked to come into the clinic and pray with Jackie as she was really sick and distressed. Our friend Kate Berry was visiting from Raleigh at the time and we came into the clinic, into a room with Jackie hooked to machines, crying, with her mother by her side. The doctors told us that they believed she was having a bad reaction to 'tick' (crystal methamphetamine) and her heart rate was erratic. Jackie's mom was angry with her, and scared for her health, and Kate took her aside to talk to her. I sat with Jackie for a good bit of time and we talked as she dozed in and out of a clear state. She was terrified of what her boyfriend would say, that they would take away her kids, that her mom was mad at her, and just if she would make it through this bad reaction. She said she wanted to get clean and get her life straight and we talked about prayed about those goals. She was mostly 'out of it' but every once in a while she would focus very clearly on my face and what I was saying and I knew she understood. We stayed for a bit and then left. I never knew what happened to Jackie after that day, and was very troubled and burdened by the encounter.
I had heard recently from my friend Bernadette, who leads support groups at Living Hope and was there that day at the rally, that Jackie was doing better and trying to get her life sorted out. Then last week, suddenly I saw her at the local supermarket in Ocean View and I knew exactly who she was (which is CRAZY for me because I am horrible at names and remembering things!). She smiled at me and came right up giving me a hug. After I got my milk and bread, we walked back towards home together and she excitedly shared with me about where her life is now. She is clean from drugs, doing drug counseling, taking care of her kids, and even has reconciled with her mom and they have a good relationship now. It was beautiful to hear about how her life has turned around, but what struck me most about our chat was the look in her eyes. She looks alive. She looks brave and strong and NEW. Beautiful. We said goodbye and I'm sure I will see her again, and I certainly hope to see her much more.
Obviously I was so encouraged by this change meeting again, as I counsel and work with so many women in desperate situations and often do not know the outcomes. Or, even worse, I do know the outcomes and they are hopeless. BUT, there is HOPE and God can do ANYTHING and I was reminded of this through Jackie and the new life she has. She has a faith in God and has been leaning on Him to get her life clean and the new life in her is evident. What a blessing to see this life change and to claim once again that God is at work!
Lot of love,