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Ministering To Ghosts From The Past

September 16, 2006

I reckon that everyone has a past…of some sort. I also reckon that most everybody has something in their past that they would just as soon avoid at all costs. When you know that Jesus Christ has changed your life and you are free from the bondage of the past — it will cause you to stop and think when God calls you to “revisit” some of those place of your life that you thought were not to ever be resurrected.

Yesterday, I was having lunch with a friend at the Taco Bell and while we were sitting there, we must have had five or six friends come by and say “Howdy.” Some were present or new friends…some were friends from long ago. Then as I was sitting there with him, I saw a car pull up outside the restaurant window and a woman got out that was a part of my life from WAY far back. Everytime I see her, I am reminded of the intimidation and life-threatening experiences I had with her.

The first one that always comes to mind is the night she was going to “kill me.”

I was fourteen years old. Her younger brother, David, and I had been best friends for about three years. Now understand that this family was dangerously dysfunctional. The parents were divorced and both were alcoholics. Older siblings were major drug users, abusers and dealers in Polk County.

I didn’t connect all the dots then…because I was just too young and naive to know what was going on. But I did witness a few incidents that were alarming and gave me ample heads up to “run like the wind” from this relationship. Specifically, after school one day, we went over to David’s house (his sister with us) and upon entering the house we saw that their mother was laid out drunk on the couch. She had to get up to go to work and was already late.

His sister, Connie, proceeded to wake her up while David and I sat at the bar in the kitchen. Their mother became so angry and beligerant at being woke her that she started hitting on his sister. Connie screamed and begged her to stop, but the mother laid in to the girl like she was her worst enemy. David was scared to death and so was I. He finally went in to the living room and begged his mother to stop, which she did and went to the bathroom to get ready. Connie was curled up in the corner of the room, crying and muttering, “Why does she hate me so much? I was just trying to wake her up for work.”

I felt sorry for Connie. I felt nauseous and wanted to throw up. I asked David to please take me home…and so he, Connie and I left…and she immediately lit up a joint on the way to my house. I felt safe at home…and evidently Connie did too. Her eyes puffy and her face bruised from the blows inflicted by her own mother, she sat at the kitchen table in my house and sought comfort from her drugs and my mother.

A few weeks after that incident, David, another friend and I were at his house again. For some reason, we had all decided to go somewhere and Connie was going to drive us. We got in the car…and I don’t even know why but Connie turned on David and started hitting him much the same way her mother had laid in to her that day. I was in the back seat with the other friend…and David and Connie were in the front seat beating each other to a pulp. I had never really been that close to a knock-down drag out fight. Suddenly, whatever anger Connie had stored up inside diminished and she just stopped and got out of the car.

David lay whimpering in the front seat, calling her all sorts of name and blamed it on the drug she had laced in her joint. I was in shock. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t help my friend. I was literally scared stiff.

And again, a few weeks later, and their oldest brother, who was in the Army, had come home from Georgia with a group of Army buddies. I remember pulling up in the driveway and seeing the yard full of cars. David and I walked up to a car where his brother was talking with others, standing at the back of his car with the trunk open. I looked inside the trunk and recognized that it was jam-packed full of whiskey, beer and loaves of marijuana and other substances. One of his buddies, who’s name was Wayne, saw me gawking at the stash and gave me a very intimidating wink.

David and I went inside to fix us something to eat. I remember…it was tacos. Soon, Wayne came in with Connie and some of the others. I was sitting at the end of the bar waiting for the taco stuff to get ready…and Connie started making fun of me because (though I had taken some puffs off of a marijuana cigarette) I refused to take a “shot gun hit.” (I still don’t completely understand the concept of a “shotgun hit” but to the best of my recollection, one person either takes a long drag on the joint and then directly blows the smoke into the face of the other while he/she inhales it…I had also seen them turn the cigarette backwards and place it inside their mouth and blow it into the inhaling nostrils or mouth of the recipient…NONE of this seem appealing to me!)

Wayne insisted that HE could get me to take a hit…and they all started laughing. Before I knew it, Connie had thrown me down on the floor and Wayne was lying on top of me…my arms were pinned down by his legs and hands…while he proceeded to blow marijuana smoke in my face. I held my breath best I could while screaming out, “Let me go! Get off me!”

Wayne got up soon enough, laughing…and I was completely traumatized, mad as could be. They all continued to laugh at me, even David. I ran to the phone, called my mother to come get me and I left. I was 14. Wayne was 28. I never told my mother what happened.

For a few days, I tried best I could to stay away from Connie and David. They got other kids to harass me…calling me names…accusing me of “thinking I was better than them.” Connie even walked by me a time or two and made a threat “if I didn’t stop trying to be a goody-goody.”

I started going steady with this boy named John. John was also a drug user and his family dealt drugs as well…only their drugs were more sophisticated, especially when his older brother was in town because he spent most of his time in California. A week or so after the Wayne incident, David and I resumed our friendship…and started doing things together again. We had another friend, Todd, who was also John’s cousin. So the four of us hung out and did stuff.

One Friday night after the ballgame, we all went to the high school dance. The dance was held at the showbarn, next to the Polk County Jail. John and I were dancing together when David came up to us and said we were going to the “farm” to get some pot. There were seven of us piled into the car of a girl named Sandra. Connie, David and Sandra were in the front seat. I sat in the back seat with John, Todd and a guy named Bernard.

When we arrived at the farm, Connie, David and Sandra got out of the front. Connie turned to pull the front seat up so the rest of us could get out and she saw that John and I were holding hands.

Something snapped inside her and the monster that I had seen beat David to a pulp a few weeks earlier, ordered everyone out of the back seat. The boys piled out the other side and I started out the way where Connie was holding the seat.

As I started out, she slammed the seat against me and ordered me to stay in. I asked her what was going on. She replied in a calm but alarming voice that she was going to kill me. I was scared to death! I mustered up the nerve to say, “Let me out, Connie.”

She told me that I wasn’t going anywhere…and no one was going to help me. “I’m going to beat the hell out of you!” she informed me.

David stepped up…”Connie, leave her alone.”

She pushed him away and started to insist that I was using them. “She doesn’t care anything about you, David. She’s sitting back here holding hands with John. She’s using you!”

“Leave her alone, Connie. It doesn’t matter.” David yelled to her.

“It does matter. Don’t you understand? She doesn’t love you!” Connie screamed back. They walked away from the car…arguing over whether she should beat me up or not. I sat in the back seat shaking like a leaf…wondering where John was…wondering why no one else was stepping up to defend me. All I could hear out of the rest of them was their noting how angry Connie was.

I wondered if I could get out of the car and run away. I wondered what would happen if I did. There was no light at the farm. We were about five miles from town and there were woods all around us. Plus, through the woods there was a river. I knew that I was in trouble. Several times I could hear that Connie was coming toward the car…and David would stop her. She hit him a few times. Then it got quiet. The light was on in the car and I could not see where they were.

I did not know Jesus as my Savior…I had never really prayed at all…but suddenly I felt like that was the only thing I could do. So I prayed and I said, “God, if you will help me…get back to the jail so I can call my mother to come get me, I will NEVER be around these people again!”

A few minutes later, they all returned and got back in the car. We started driving down the dirt road that led away from the farm. No one said a word. John didn’t hold my hand…we just drove until we got back to the dance. Sandra had to park the car next to the jail.

We all got out of the car…again without saying a word. I looked at David and said, “I’m going home.” Then I walked directly into the jail and called my mother. The rest of the group returned to the dance.

This time I told my mother what happened. She wasn’t necessarily alarmed, but she said that I should probably give them some space. My sister, Brenda, on the other hand was livid. She was ready to launch her own attack on Connie.

The next day, Connie came over to my house to guage the situation. I didn’t come down from my bedroom. I heard her ask my mother, “Did Carole tell you what happened last night?”

Hoping that mother would come to my defense and send her walking, I was disappointed to hear her respond with, “Yeh, you all need to get along better.”

My heart hurt again. I couldn’t understand why my mother didn’t reprimand her. My first thought was that my mother may have been afraid of her too. Then, I remembered that she and my mother had a mutual relationship…in that Connie needed a mother-figure that was not going to slap her around…and my mother enjoyed the drugs that Connie would supply her from time to time.

I realized that regardless of the pressure or the harrassment, I would not live my life this way anymore. From that day on, I never went anywhere with David or Connie again. I was harrassed. I was pressured, even by my mother to “make up” and let by-gones be by-gones. But I didn’t succumb. I did not go back! I did not go back!

So all these memories came rushing back in yesterday when I saw Connie at the Taco Bell. Also came the remembrance that over the past 30 years, Connie and her family have suffered incredible tragedy and have continued in their dysfunctional lives.

In the early 1990’s, David was found dead after an overdose of cocaine. This young man was very intelligent…and talented. He had gone to college and became an anethesiologist nurse. He also lived a homosexual lifestyle and his funeral was one of the saddest I have ever attended.

About two years later, their older brother, who had been in the Army, was shot through the heart in a domestic disturbance. His ex-wife died a few years later in her mid-30’s of heart failure due to a life of excessive drug abuse and quite possibly complications from an immune system failure. They left two young sons.

Another brother has lived most of his adult life on drugs. He was married for a short while…and then his wife left him for his sister, Connie.

And about a year ago, Connie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent chemo-therapy and was doing better.

Yesterday, when she came in to Taco Bell…she looked bad. I could tell that she was wearing a wig, which seemed out of place because the last time I saw her she was sporting a crew cut. She is a lesbian…and for all her life, she has donned this boyish look and style. She is intimidating to most that come in contact with her…because she is always angry…and she is always rough.

She saw me and smiled. I said, “Hey Connie. What’s going on?”

She told me that she was on a food run for some friends at the store where she was working. I asked if she was doing okay, to which she replied, “Well, the cancer is back. It’s in my liver and my pancreas.”

“I’m sorry.” I said, thinking this woman is dying.

Tears came to her eyes…and my mind searched for something…ANYTHING…to say.

“I should tell her about Jesus.” I thought. I scrambled in my mind, quickly, for some way to start…and before anything came to my mind…she excused herself to get the order for her friends.

I felt useless. I told my friend, who is a preacher, about the situation…and about the history. “She needs to be saved.” I told him. He agreed.

All night long, her face has been ever before me. I know God is telling me to go minister to her.

“How? What should I do?” I asked Him.

“Go pray with her. Go pray for her.” This is what He says do.

“And go soon!”

So…today…I go. What I’ll say…How I’ll pray…I’m not exactly sure.

Lord Jesus, go before me. This is your child…Connie is someone that you love dearly…someone that you died for. Help me to tell her this in a way that will make a difference in her heart. Lord Jesus, show me and lead me in this situation. In your name I pray, Amen.

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