I had not expected the text. It came out of the blue, “She’s been admitted…here is her patient number…”

Driving to the treatment facility, I prayed for grace and strength. I hoped to show up as a presence and an encouragement to someone who needed to know she was worthy of love, no matter what her circumstances.

Arriving, I walked through the admissions door and up to the reception desk, well prepared for the ‘routine.’  I had been a visitor here many times before.

Upon passing all of the needed safety prerequisites to earn ‘visitor’ status, I exited out the door and began walking the path that would lead me to her. The path was long and winding, disappearing between buildings and reappearing as I took one step after another. Searching out goodness amidst the painful reality I was engaging in, I became fully aware of the hot breeze on my face, a glistening pool on my left, a basketball court on my right and a small garden. Life. I have learned to search for its presence no matter the circumstance I find myself in.

One more turn in the path and I arrived at the entrance to the unit she was in. Standing at door I pushed the button on the doorframe and waited patiently to hear the voice and receive the instructions that would allow me entrance into the lock down unit. Hearing the familiar click of the lock, I pushed the door open and walked up to a window where a nurse spoke to me through a hole in the glass.
“Who do you want to see? Do you have a patient number?”

I answered. She inserted a key into a lock on the wall. Another click and I was free to enter.

Stepping inside, I searched the many sets of eyes until I caught hers. She stood and came to hug me, her face flooded with the relief that comes when the familiar is seen in the midst of the unfamiliar. “Everyone has given up on me.” I listened.

We were taken to a room almost full with people. Two chairs left, we took them.

Her tears flowed freely from her beautiful green eyes as she stared deeply into my own as if searching for something.

She had been admitted to the treatment facility days before after a drug binge had left her with frightening hallucinations, near hysteria and desperate for her breath, her life.

I sat with her, listening to her story, the fear present in her eyes. “I need help. I have nothing left. I am alone and scared. I have nowhere to go when I leave here except back to where I was. How can I escape?”

She told me of the choices she has made. My eyes held her gaze, brimming with tears for the pain and shame she feels. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I know her pain. I know her shame. I know what it is to want to escape circumstances, and I know what it is to feel enslaved to them, believing it is the only way to survive.

The pull to rescue, to fix things, to rely on my own resources was magnetic.

For a brief time, she allowed me to stand with her in the sacred space of her pain. I listened and held her secrets tenderly, just as my own have been held. Through all her tears, all her anger, all her sadness and all her questions, I want more than anything for her to know Grace.

“I need something different,” she said… “I am going to die if I stay.”

“What do you want?” I prayed though the words as I said them.

“A way out.”

“Yes. You want a way out.”

She was released several days later. I will be drinking coffee with her soon. Not for any other reason than to let her know there can be something different in her ‘normal.’ And who knows? Maybe one day, she will want me to bring a friend along and perhaps she will bring one of hers too. Hope. I know I can’t rescue her, but I know the One who can. He knew her when she was a little girl and a storm hit her home.

He saw her as she grew…

She needed protection and guidance when she had questions in her heart.
She needed pursuit, when she hid her tears of pain, not wanting to be a burden.
She needed someone to stop her from going to her first glamour shot photo session hopeful to become more ‘beautiful and glamourous’.
She needed someone to stop her from posting her new ‘look’ on social media for all to see.
She needed someone to tell her that her body was not a commodity to be given away, but rather a gift from a wonderful Creator. A masterpiece from Love.

I pray for her and I hope for her and many others who are victims of slavery.

Will you join me in praying for her and others who need the freedom found in Grace?


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Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.
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