A Heart of Stone

Posted by admin in November 17th, 2009
Published in gratitude

I had an empty Dr. Pepper can in one hand, using it as an ashtray, and a half-smoked cigarette in the other. I was sitting in a big leather wingback chair Indian style staring at a sign on the desk that read, “No Smoking Please.” Whatever. I was stoned. It wasn’t even noon yet.

The young doctor hurried in the room apologizing. “Sorry to keep you waiting Teri. How are you doin’? You okay?”

No I wasn’t okay. I was miserable. I was 19, flunking out of school, addicted to drugs and smoking two and half packs of cigarettes a day. No. I was not okay.

This doctor worked for my university’s infirmary. He was the doctor who had told me only weeks before that I was pregnant. He was the doctor who strongly encouraged me to choose adoption. I hadn’t. And even after I had gone against his counsel, he was also the doctor that tenderly and kindly took my hand and told me, “If you ever need to talk, I’m here. My office door is always open to you any time. Don’t forget that.”

I remember when he had first said those words to me I thought he was lame. I didn’t need him. I didn’t need anybody. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to some stranger about my “feelings.” But days were getting tougher to get through. I was “self medicating” just to survive and to help take a bit of the edge off of life. Pampers commercials were sending me into deep mourning. At 19, I felt as if my life was over. So, on a whim, without much thought or planning I showed up at the infirmary and said I wanted to talk to the doctor.

The receptionist opened his door for me and I went in, lit a cigarette and sat down. And that’s where he found me.

“I didn’t come here to talk really,” my voice was hard and raspy from all the smoking. “I don’t even know why I came.” He listened. Looked me straight in the face, but just listened.

“I’m having kind of a tough time right now. I mean, I’m ridiculous. I’m crying at commercials. I don’t know what the heck is wrong with me.” A couple of renegade tears had escaped and were slowly moving down my cheeks. I swatted at them acting as if they weren’t really there.

Still. No response. Just listening. Nodding his head gently. His hands were folded on his desk. It was a big desk. A massive desk. One he had inherited from the doctors before him. The school’s infirmary was free and everyone knew only the rookies took this job. He was young. Probably fresh out of medical school. He wore the mandatory white coat, pocket filled with pens and a name tag. His hair was blond; his eyes blue; his complexion tan. I kept thinking, “He’s the perfect guy, with a perfect wife, who has the perfect job and probably has a perfect baby at home.” I hated him and yet I was drawn to him at the same time.

“You see doc this isn’t really me. Ya know?”

“No,” he said it kindly. “What do ya mean?”

“Well, this girl sitting in front of you. It’s not the real me. I’m kinda like two people. There’s this Teri who’s smoking in your office brazenly disregarding the No Smoking sign. I do drugs, go clubbing, cuss like a sailor, sleep around and smoke constantly and my life’s a wreck…”

Still smiling; still listening; still gently nodding his head, “Go on…”

“But ya see, there’s another Teri deep inside me. She’s five years old. And I have to protect her from all of this crap. She’d never approve of my lifestyle. She’s different than me. She’s not aware that I exist. And if she knew what I was doing, she’d be devastated.”

“Teri,” he asked, “what happened to you when you were five?”

And without hesitating or thinking or even formulating the answer I quietly said, “I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior.” It was almost rote. It came from some place deep inside and flowed out of my mouth easily and quite naturally.

Boy! Did that ever have an impact on him! He jumped up out of his chair and ran around the enormous desk and knelt right by my chair, “Teri I knew it! I knew it! The first day I met you I went home and told my wife, ‘This girl is different. She’s got to have a Christian background.’ And we’ve been praying for you every day! Every day Teri we’ve been asking God to draw you back to Himself. I knew it! Oh Teri, Jesus wants you back! Jesus loves you!”

Whoa there partner. I physically recoiled at his response. I started pushing myself out of the chair in an attempt to just get away from him.

“What? What are you talking about?!?” I motioned for him to go back to his seat.

His face went from bright excitement to a shaded expression of disappointment.

“Hold on there doc. I’m not going to have some kind of religious experience right here in your office! Okay? You need to just settle down there.”

“Why not?” he asked flat out.

“Well, for one thing there’s no way on earth that God is going to forgive me. The other thing is I have tried Christianity and the truth of it is, I just ain’t no good at it. I believe in Jesus. I believe the Bible is true, but man I have struggled all my life trying to be a Christian, trying to live for God and I just can’t do it. I don’t have what it takes. So, thanks but no thanks. Besides, God is not going to forgive me for what I’ve done! He’s not going to simply look the other way. I had an abortion for pity’s sake. You think He just forgives crap like that? You’re crazy.”

The young doctor pulled a prescription pad out of the top drawer of his desk. “Now you’re talkin’!” I thought to myself. After all, this is what I’d really come for anyway. I needed something to get me out of the darkness. Finally we were getting somewhere.

He finished writing and then looked up from the prescription pad, “Do you have a Bible at home Teri?” he asked.

Oddly I did. When I’d left for college I packed my childhood Bible for some reason. It was a navy blue leather-bound Bible with my name inscribed in gold letters on the front. The front and back inside covers, along with all the white lead up pages were covered in Sunday School stickers I had received as a child. Pictures of Jesus praying in the Garden; small lambs, praying hands, several crosses and some stars. Achievement stickers: verses memorized, perfect attendance, bringing a friend—I had them all.

“Yeah, why?” I answered very skeptically.

The doctor pulled the written prescription from the pad and slid the piece of paper across the massive, leather topped desk. I looked at it and was completely confused.

He had written, I John 1:9.

“Teri, I want you to go home and look up this verse. I want you to read it every morning, every day at lunch, every evening and every night before you go to bed. I want you to memorize it. I want you to recite it. I want you to speak this verse out loud until it’s in your heart and your mind. Okay?”

Not what I wanted, but he was crazy and it was useless to argue. He insisted on praying with me before I left. I was craving a joint and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I wish I could say that immediately things got better. But they didn’t. They actually got worse. My drug habit increased. I started stealing from my employer. I lied every single day and I was constantly in financial trouble. Overdrafts, health problems, broken relationships. Life was dark and bleak and oftentimes I felt it wasn’t worth living.

One day, about a year after I had been in his office, I ran into the doctor in the parking lot of a small strip center near my work. He was trying to break into his car. Apparently he had locked his keys in there and didn’t have a clue how to get the door unlocked. He was working quite unsuccessfully with a bent up coat hanger he’d gotten from the dry cleaners he’d just been to.

“Hey doc! What’s up?” He was more than a little frustrated.

“Teri!” no doubt he was distracted. “Hi. I’m just an idiot. I locked my keys in my car.”

I took the hanger from him and started working on pulling the nail-headed lock into the up position.

“Hey Teri. My wife and I are moving. We leave day after tomorrow. We’re going back to the small town we grew up in. She’s a nurse and well, we believe God is calling us to go there and set up practice. They’ve been without a doctor for a long time and uh, like I said, we just feel this is the right thing to do.”

I kept working on the lock and was thinking, “Who gives a rip? Why should I care what you’re doing?”

Finally I pulled up the knob and got the door unlocked. He was relieved and smiling.

“You know, I was so frustrated that I’d locked my keys in my car, but now I’m thinking God planned it this way. I’m so glad to see you. Are you doin’ okay?”

No I wasn’t. I believe he could tell that from the weight loss, extreme dark circles under my eyes and my lack of enthusiasm.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Good luck to you doc. I hope you have a wonderful life.” I hated him. I hated that he was happy and successful and moving and living and I wasn’t.

I started to walk off and he hollered at me, “Teri!”

I turned around.

“You’re a good girl Teri! Please don’t ever forget that. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you you aren’t. ‘Cause you are. You’re a good girl.”

I faked a smile and waved halfheartedly. I turned back around quickly because I wasn’t about to let him see me cry.

I don’t know who reads this old blog. I can’t even tell you why I’m writing about this today. I’d like to finish the story tomorrow. I want to tell how God pulled me out of that pit and cleaned me and healed me and made me new. I hope you don’t mind me indulging in this memory. Is it nostalgia? I don’t know. But I just keep thinking about how good God is and how wonderful and vast His love is and I guess I just wanted to share a little of myself with you. I’ll close with this verse and then I’ll finish up the story tomorrow. Revelation 12:11. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives even unto death.” Peace.

5 users Responded In This Post

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287. brenda said,
November 18th, 2009 at 8:39 am

Thank you. Thank you for your honest story that allows us to see our great, loving God reach out through the darkness of your young world to touch your messy life. I am looking forward to reading the rest of how he takes you in his arms.

288. margaret said,
November 18th, 2009 at 10:00 am

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim to proclaim it!Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!”
My Redeeemer lives!

289. texas sister said,
November 19th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I read it, this ol’ blog of yours that lifts my soul and reminds me that I do have a sister who has walked a similar path to mine amongst all my lily white friends who were so blessed to barely ever need forgiveness.
Those who are forgiven much love much, because we remember who we were before He touched us and made us clean.

Glory to the Lamb who shed His own blood and gave to us the weapons of our warfare to live a BIG TIME victorious life here on Earth, not just someday in Heaven.

292. Cuzzin J'Lynn said,
November 20th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Thank you, Teri!

297. Laura Savage-Rains said,
November 24th, 2009 at 9:07 am

Teri, you continue to bless the Kingdom with your honesty and proclamation at the power of God in a young woman’s life . . . and God’s continued power in a mature woman’s life. Thank you!!! You ARE loved!

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