Watching the Olympics had been different this year for me. Every athlete suddenly represents a full set of parents and coaches, commitment and support, time and money and more time and more money. I do not feel one way or the other about this, I am just observing. I know that all the money and time in the world wouldn't send an untalented or unmotivated person to the podiums. I understand the drive, discipline, devotion the athlete must have to achieve these dreams. I just suddenly understand what an incredible advantage a good family can be. I know this -- we all know -- but sometimes those truths we hold to be self evident can become so surreal in our experience. We understand at a new level.
My children are 14 and 10. Their extracurricular activities keep us utterly over-extended. They have nothing ahead of them but possibilities -- they can do all things through Christ, who gives them strength. Every sacrifice we make for their future translates to pure joy for us. I thank God every day for giving us what we need for this moment in time. I think often of the many sacrifices our parents made for us to live out our dreams, and every day I am more appreciative, more thankful -- not only to them, but to God for His incredible provision of them in our lives, and the legacy of that provision in my childrens' lives. Every day I realize that we are completely priviledged -- blessed. To whom much is given, much is expected -- and boy oh boy have we been given much. My kids heads are full of dreams, and I encourage them, as we all do, to dream big -- all things are possible in Christ. Be everything He created you to be.
This life of possibility and potential should be the right of every child, but more often than not this is not so. Not everyone has choices and opportunities. In fact, few do. In my short career as a social worker, the children I met dreamed of peaceful worlds where beds were clean and smelled fresh, where adults were kind and had everything under control, where they could be the center of someone's world, the apple of someone's eye, and not the object of someone's dirty desires.
Jack Johnson's song Taylor has haunted me lately. I knew several girls like Taylor. Two have come to visit my memories lately -- beautiful faces without names. I cannot recall their names -- the final affront to their pitiful little lives. I'm so sorry. Both worked as prostitutes, both under 16. One only stayed for a short time, escaping in the night to pursue her future as a stripper or a porn star. (Once they leave, they can't come back). I never saw her again, although I heard through the grapevine about her adventures. The other girls dreamed of being her -- a bird that flew far, far away. I imagined her all used up and only 18. I despaired her inevitable discovery -- that she'd been exploited and used. I hoped she would discover something better. I don't know if she ever did.
"taylor was a good girl, never one to be late, complain, express ideas in her brain...."
The child that replaced her in the group home would break all of our hearts. I wish you could have seen her -- she was fair haired, fragile looking. Her hair, her eyes, her skin were almost transparent. She was like a creature of myth. She seemed so very small for 15. So very young. A scrapper from the start, she would battle for everything from time in the bathroom to bedtime prayers. I physically broke up 2 of her fist fights. (For a fragile girl, she sure could pack a whollop). Soon after she arrived, her roommate brought out a ziplock bag filled with hair that had fallen from her head -- in her comb, on her pillow. The bag was filled. Her roommate insisted she show us. "that ain't normal", she complained. We'd been waiting for an appointment to see a doctor about what seemed to be an extremely bad sore throat. Suddenly things were a bit more urgent. Arguments with "Medi-Cal", the doctor couldn't make room for her until a month later -- finally the owner/director of the home circumvented all protocol and took her into her private physician. She was in an advanced stage of AIDS. Her throat, it turned out, was riddled with Herpes sores. She was dying, and all the fist fights in the world couldn't stop it.
Only one short year earlier, at the age of 14 (my son's age) she left an oppressive home to become a statistic. She was the child of a single mother who turned religious fanatic after conceiving out of wedlock. She spent her child's entire life reminding her that she was the product of sin. God's eternal punishment. When our fragile fair hair hit the street, she sold blow-jobs in a wealthy conservative area of Southern California. She believed she was a virgin. After all, a blow job wasn't really sex, was it? She contracted Herpes in her throat from an infected "john", then eventually HIV through the open sores in her throat. Her interaction with these men, and the other girls on the street, was in her opinion the most affirmation she had ever had. Until then she was nothing but the weight around her poor mother's neck. In the short time I knew her, her mother never attempted to make contact. She was utterly rejected.
And what of the men who paid for her "services"? I can't speak of them. God forgives even them. When I consider the age and relative innocence of this child, I am overcome. The wages of her sin was death. It is the cost of all of our sin -- I know this. But this story gets more insidious before it ends -- for you see, legislation protected the person with AIDS as you may know -- we didn't have the right to know of her illness (oops) even though she was only 15, and they didn't want her to stay in the group home in the wealthy conservative neighborhood, because, afterall, there was statistically no AIDs in this lovely land of perfection. We couldn't fight for her -- something about a gag order. We couldn't know where she was sent (sounds like a bad movie) So basically, she was sent away to die. Somewhere where statistically, teens were allowed to be at risk for AIDS. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do..."
In the end, I can't say which men I found more evil -- those that used her up, or those that spit her out.
"...she used to be a limber chicken, time's a been a ticking, now she's finger licking to the man-
with the money in his pocket, flying on his rocket, only stopping by on his way to a better world...If Taylor finds a better world--Taylor's gonna fly away...."
I hope you flew away home to heaven fragile fair-haired girl. I'm so sorry I don't remember your name. I'm sorry I didn't know how to tell you about Jesus -- I didn't know how to work around all the bad first impressions you had of Him. I'm sorry you never had your own personal fan club. I'm sorry you never had a chance to race for a gold medal. I'm sorry that you never even thought that maybe you could. I'm sorry you never had a chance to see life from another side. The view is so beautiful from here. --- I have to tell you something, I think I'm a better mom from knowing you. I think my kids will benefit eternally from the short time I had with you on earth. And their kids, too. --Rest in Peace child.
Please pray for the first girl I told you about -- the run away, stripper, porn star girl. Maybe she's still out there. Maybe she still has some time...