The Strength in two Chairs: The story of Valery

Thursday, February 28, 2019

This week we took a little more time to go learn some more at a near by Spanish school.  Trust me when I say I'll be learning Spanish for the rest of my life.  I never knew that God would use it as a chance to see the strength and beauty in two souls that shared a table with me.  I want to share their stories-- I want you to see there beauty.  

Valery sits across from me in here chair. Her hair is long and dark. Latino women always have the best hair. It's silky and it shimmers when the sun hits it. She is young-- maybe my age. The thirties have to be young, right? She has a black leather coat, and denim pants. I notice the Hello Kitty shirt underneath. She is simple, yet beautiful. Her smile is beautiful, with perfect white teeth. Her eyes the color of chocolate. As she sits and I begin to speak I notice- Valery's right eye doesn't focus. Valery's right eye is weak, and I can't at that moment remember why that seems to bother me so much. 

Valery was married when she was 14 years old. That is not a typo. It's still a thing in many places in the world.  In the Mayan culture these brides marry due to traditions and poverty. (A law was passed in 2015 making it illegal to marry before 18, but this was before Valery's time.) It's a horrible cycle.  She had a broken life and by the time she left had had 3 children.  Her husband, like many men here (machismo culture), constantly cheated on her.  Valery shared that she knew of eight different women.   She said her life was "complicado" and shared a little about her kids.  It was the end of the first day, and time for me to go home.  

That night I traveled to the grocery story, and as I made small talk with the cashier I looked at her and I noticed her dark eyes, and one eye just a little weaker and when she smiled my mind flashed back to a moment and to a friend.  "She looks like Monica," I thought, "eyes and all." Then my gut turned and my stomach knotted up- because I finally remembered THE LOOK. I remember the night Monica came came to my house, her eye covered in blood (black and swollen).  I remember the fear in here voice. I remember the time it took for the color to come to her face and her beauty to return- and I remember seeing how her one eye never quite looked the same.  The small reminder of a broken night, a violent relationship, and a shattered soul.  I flashed a smile at the cashier, swallowing the tears and headed home.

Over the next few days I had a chance to listen to Valery open up.  I chopped through Spanish, and she corrected me.  I asked questions, and she poured into me. Valery admitted her husband hit her and hit her and hit her. She said she was young (remember she married at 14), and he just kept saying he was sorry.  "When you're young, flowers fix a lot." One time she asked about one of the other women, Valery paused, shook her head and never finished that story.  I never asked more.  

She choked up saying how she finally, after 12 years, had the courage to leave her husband.  She took her children and moved to the city.  Throughout the days she spoke of her culture's traditions, and of a past she doesn't go back to.  She left a part of her culture, her community, her family--for a life without fear or abuse. She lost everything. She traded her skirt for jeans and leather- but she gained freedom and hope.  She openly shared her guilt for disappointing God, because God doesn't want divorce.  In broken Spanish- I mustered up the words to share hope. Our God offers love. He forgives and he understands.  Tears filled her dark eyes, and I knew she didn't get told that often.  I'm thankful for broken Spanish and sharing Gods love. I prayed for her and went home.

The next day we shared more Spanish.  I was learning, promise-- but I couldn't help but think God was using our time too.  She said her son was 19 and had a drug problem.  She spoke of rehab and trying to help him when he doesn't want to help himself.  She talked about the 5 drug houses that are within walking distance of her home, frustrated that her son just can't get away.   The poverty is deep here and the problems even deeper.   I shared with her my husband's story. How God called him out at a concert and changed his whole life. How in a single moment, God radically changed him from a life of drug use, to a life of sharing that victory in Jesus.  

Today marked our last day.  We laughed and cried a little.  She smiled sweetly and said thank you.  Valery said she prayed last night for the first time in a long time. Valery prayed because she believed again that God loved her, and that he was reaching out to her. Valery said "I have hope! I have hope that God can radically change my son- because he radically changed you husband. I believe that now. I believe that God loves me."  She thanked me, telling me such kind words and I just smiled and laughed.  

You see it's Valery I admire- It's the Valerys that are so amazingly beautiful to me.  They have this gentle force to keep moving on in spite of brokenness and pain.  I look at her and think, "Oh my God- you created such a wondrous woman, and I got to hear her story."  I got to understand her story (in Spanish!). So I ask you to pray for Valery (God knows her name) tonight. Pray for the Valerys in world tonight that go on fighting hard, and are just waiting to be reminded that they are loved. They are cherished and that they matter to God. They matter to me too.  

"He lifted me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry clayHe set my feet upon a rock, and made my footsteps firm." 
Psalm 40:2

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