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McMullen Booth & Drew
After my lonely stint on the cardiac ward just weeks after arriving in my new city, it become abundantly clear to me that I needed people. The day George & Lisa moved me into my apartment, I sat at a light at McMullen Booth & Drew. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the big church on the corner, and made a mental note. The sign was right on the side of the road–and hard to miss. “Calvary Baptist Church–For Life’s Journey”. The light changed, just two more blocks to go before we arrived at my apartment complex, the one that I would affectionately call “The Ghetto”…it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t a half million dollar house 3 blocks from the beach either. It was close to a hospital, both a medical hospital and that big church on the corner of McMullen & Drew.
I am not shy, and not afraid to go places by myself. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is go to a restaurant with a book–all by myself. My world is full of words and processing, and talking…more than I should sometimes. So, when it came time to visit Calvary, I wasn’t afraid. I slipped in the back of the church, walked out afterwards without speaking to anybody. I noticed in the bulletin that there was a Bible study on Wednesday’s–another mental note, and a decision that would change everything.
It took me a few weeks, but one Wednesday night I went to the Bible study, I had a huge wall built up–nobody could have possibly known that my life had been turned upside down, or could they?
Having been brought up in a children’s home, I learned some manners, being on time was not one of them. I’m not usually late, but just on time. This time, my timing could not have been more perfect. I walked into the room filled with women of all ages, there was one seat left, I took it. After you read this part of the story, you tell me that God is not sovereign over the little things.
The class started and the sweet lady (with an unbelievable southern accent–weird for this part of Florida) talked, a lot. Turns out she was the teacher. After the lesson, we broke out into prayer groups and I mentioned I was going through a divorce and looking for a job. I still remember her prayer, a sweet one of healing wounds and reconciliation. Then, out of nowhere, the question that would not only secure me a job, a family, and ministry–“what do you do?”. I did not answer with “head-hunter”, business owner or sales professional. “My degree is in Biology, I’d love to get back into teaching”. Less than 2 weeks later, I was hired at Calvary Christian High School. Now I was going to a hospital for the hurting everyday. That teacher, by the way, Cheryl Rice, the pastor’s wife of the big church on the corner. You would never know it though, she loves Jesus with wild abandonment and loves people almost as much.
For 3 years, through law-suits, surgeries from injuries from my abuse, hospitalizations, a repossessed car (violated divorce settlement) and a crisis of faith I had not only Cheryl but many friends walked me through this crazy and painful journey. Divorce creates a loneliness that you can only know if you have been there. None of these friends tried to fill that void, but they spoke truth to me and ministered to the hurting part of me, not the person who couldn’t cry and operated in fight of flight 24 hours a day. Divorce with abuse is even more confusing. Healing comes so slow, and the pain, well it makes you want to die.
That first year was brutal. I couldn’t even walk into grocery stores without memories flooding back. You see, despite all the abuse–and all that came post divorce–there is loss, there is grief. There is sadness–gut wrenching sadness. Walking into that classroom everyday saved my life. I always describe those early years as time “I wouldn’t mind not being alive, but I wouldn’t do anything to hurt myself”. But, I was, I did. I stopped eating.
Cheryl also taught at Calvary, and everyday she would bring me cheese and crackers for lunch, because that’s all I would eat.
The wounds from the slaps, punches, and knock- downs heal eventually. It’s the indelible wounds left on your very core that takes time–and a support system to heal. Healing for me came with a small decision to reach out and obedience on the part of not only my friend Cheryl, but many like her, who just loved me well, and kept me alive. I would need all of them, in year two when it was all too much and suddenly I found myself in the hospital after a complete nervous break-down, with no will to live.