I'll call her JJ. First I met part of her family, many years ago. I got to know her mother because of my role as a pastor. I also got to know her little daughter, who was just a toddler.
JJ's mother was raising JJ's daughter because JJ was... Well, she was in prison. For theft. To feed her drug habit.
For two years after I met them, JJ's mother told me about visiting her daughter in prison. She spoke with great hope that JJ had learned her lesson and would get a chance to really start over while she was still young.
When she was released, I remember JJ's resolve to never go back. She want to stay clean and sober, to raise her daughter, to live a productive life. She settled down, took a few forward steps... And stumbled.
Fast forward twenty years. JJ never quite ended up back in prison. Not the kind behind bars and armed guards, anyway.
I talked to JJ's mother the other day. "At least she's not doing drugs," her mom said. "But she's in a mess that might be even worse." This sweet woman with a broken heart went on to describe how JJ has spent the last year in an abusive relationship with a man young enough to be her son.
Like so many other victims, JJ denies the problem and protects her boyfriend. He put her in the hospital recently and JJ admitted that he would have killed her if she hadn't gotten far enough away to cry for help. She went to her parents house for a few days and JJ's mom got a court order to keep the man away. Within no time, JJ was gone and her mom knows she went back to the man.
JJ admits that the next time could be her last time.
A prophet named Hosea wrote, "For they sow the wind And they reap the whirlwind." (Hosea 8:7 NASB) I used to think that maybe this was a scathing judgment, a "God's gonna get you!" Now I believe it's more of a tragic observation. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes just a few "small" steps in the wrong direction to throw a person into the path of a tornado bigger than Dorothy and Toto's.
JJ's little daughter is now grown up. She has two children of her own. She, too, is reaping some of the whirlwind.
I write JJ's story with a very sad heart. Would you like to share a bit about a "JJ" you know?