As I slowly regain consciousness, my face smashed in the wet sand, the waves gently nudging me to get up. I open my eyes, spitting out the salty water of the world and breathing in God. I’ve been in this place for more than a week. My mind, body, emotions and spirit are completely depleted of their natural resources. On day thirty of the Soul Fast, I find myself completely overwhelmed – washed ashore. Dr. Trimm, said this would be a period of blessing unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – life altering. I hung onto that hope from mid Spring Semester to it’s end. What I’ve been through the last few days, have altered my personal definition of what a blessing from God is. Generally, when I think of a blessing from God, I think of something tangible – material, i.e., stuff. According to the Ancient Hebrew Research Center, “The extended meaning of this word is to do or give something of value to another.” It doesn’t define what “value” is. God has redefined it for me.
CRAIG’S LIST PSYCHO THRILLER
When I have time, the movies I most enjoy watching are psycho thrillers. I love the suspense, the unpredictability, the psychology of the psycho paths that some dedicated profiler is trying to outwit and bring to justice. Sometimes it’s a jail cell, often it ends with the perpetrator occupying a slab at the morgue, and when there is a sequel – disappears until another day. I could not have fathomed that when God blessed me – translating me from the bungalow in a quaint close nit community near the local college to the estate I now share with a devout Christian woman and her two children, that it would be the backdrop of a Craig’s List psycho thriller. I had no idea that I would be given a starring role. As I am still recovering from this ordeal, I’m grateful that my mind has necessarily detached itself from it.
Just before I came to live at The Light House, which our estate is so named, my housemate, “Ann” responded to a post on Craig’s List. She needed a live in to take care of her mother. Her mother’s house is adjacent to ours on the property too. She needed someone who was strong enough to help manage the mother’s care as she has a bad back and is unable to do so. “Jim,” presented himself as a Christian who had been out of fellowship for a bit and anxious to get back on course. He said that this setup would be ideal as he wanted to go back to school and would be taking online courses in the fall so he’d be home most of the time. He wasn’t a male nurse; however, he had some experience providing caregiving. She hired him, things seemed to be going well then they began to quickly transform. It became obvious that Jim wasn’t qualified for the job. Being the kind person she is, Ann, tried to bring him up to speed. Some things he absolutely refused to do that were essential to her mother’s care like prepare balanced meals. His idea of lunch was a corn dog and a bag of cookies. When Ann began to question him he became belligerent, verbally abusive, and extremely aggressive to the point that she was afraid to go to her own mother’s house.
One day, I asked her if she was okay. That’s all it took for the tears and the story to come forth. The larger picture for her was that this interaction with the caregiver guy, Jim, took her back to a place of deep wounding and unresolved hurt. It took her back to the abuse that she was subjected to by her ex-husband, “Tom,” while they were married. When Jim talked stupid to her, she actually heard, “Tom.” When Jim would rear up on her, she remembered Tom hitting her. The fear that I saw, was the fear of an abused woman, who could not walk out of that place within herself and through this alone. There’s more, that I won’t get into – this was a complete, total mind screw. Not only of Ann but the manipulation of her Mom too. That place that Jim took them to was dark and scary. He was in control or so he thought.
Because she needed someone right away to care for her Mom, she did not do all the stuff she should have: reference checks, background checks, etc. As we’d later find out, this guy had three criminal charges in Riverside County, CA.
DOING THE RIGHT THING
When I looked into the face of my housemate as this was unfolding, and saw the magnitude of her fear, my heart was moved with compassion. As the enemy came in like a flood, threatening the lives of us all it never occurred to me to take my eight year old son and go visit my Mom until the smoke cleared and the dust settled. This was real life and that wasn’t about to happen! How is it that God would give me, a virtual stranger, the responsibility for the lives of three generations of a family? I now understand how crime scenes happen. Crazy people know how to stay just out of reach of the police; and when they are ready to make their move the police are too late and everybody’s dead. Over the course of two days Jim sent over 400 threatening text messages demanding money to stop the harassment that the police called “freedom of speech.” He also stole three guns from the house.
Perhaps the redeeming factor to my repertoire of sin is that God has sent me to walk with others thru seasons of hard testing and trials. God has placed me in situations throughout my life that I just could not walk away from – not and be able to live with myself in the aftermath. I know what it’s like to be abandoned and left for dead. I wasn’t going to stand by and let this nut hold an old woman hostage in her own house, continue to terrorize Ann or put fear in the hearts of her children! I was filled with righteous indignation – what a coward. However, what I couldn’t do is fight this battle for Ann. Even with her permission, I wasn’t going to go down to her Mom’s house and put him out. She had to do it for herself and her kids needed to see her empowered, in control, and standing up to protect the homestead.
THE REAL BLESSING
The last few days have been quiet on the home front. Hopefully, this melodrama is truly over. The real blessing in it all was this past Sunday, the Grandmother celebrated her 86th birthday surrounded by her children, grandchildren and scores of extended family members and friends. Ann was able to push past her fear that had her bound and find the strength within herself to overcome the abuse in her life. Her four children were able to find a place a safety and the security of knowing that their mother could protect them.
The real blessing for me was learning how to take care of myself in the aftermath of ministry…that I didn’t have to drown after swimming that family to shore. That was not required.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Needless to say, our house is on lockdown day and night as we pick up the pieces of our lives and move forward. The man who wreaked such havoc in our lives: his initials are TTS; DOB 8/3/66; Drivers license has a Palm Springs address. He is a white male, approximately 5’8″ tall – 160 lbs. Clean cut, well kept and articulate. It’s worth the extra time to check out any potential live in caregiver. I thank God for seeing us thru this and pray that no one goes thru what we did.