I am 29 years old. My man and I just bought a house in our dream city, and my womanly heart yearns and craves a house full of babies and friends and family. I pine over Pinterest looking for the right bedding, saving millions of projects I’ll never do, and drooling over well-styled rooms and furniture. I am a young woman who prays to be that much closer to God, to hear him a little bit louder. I have a job that I love that pays well and allows me to build relationship with a community I might not otherwise know. A true ministry. I have a puppy. She is a Vizsla and has more energy than this girl after Americano number three. We run together and she loves nothing more than to come in the bathroom when I need to go. Pleasant. I have more friends than I could count, I have the love of my family, and my in-laws are wonderful people. I love a good book club (read: group of friends who talk about the book for all of 5 minutes…if they finished it) and when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I bake. I’m a woman with a spectacular, God-seeking life, and one night I had too many glasses of wine and I drove home.
I want to write the details. I want to justify and pitch my case. I went to a wedding, I danced with friends I had not seen in ages, I enjoyed the Malbec, we had dinner, we said our goodbyes. The owner of the house I was to stay at did not answer her phone- I had no idea how to get there. I called my man. We decided I would drive home.
76 in a 70 is why he stopped me. After the surreal walking of the line in the bitter cold, the lights in my eyes, the 416 questions, I had handcuffs on my wrists and was watching my car as it was towed away. Never. Never in my wildest dreams.
What I want you to know is that when they take you to jail, they take all of your clothes and they frisk you just like the movies. You are just as wrong and bad as the woman sitting next to you who beat her children unconscious. The one who just stole your food. They give you a jumpsuit and they take your picture. Don’t worry. It can be found on the internet by your friends and family. When they let you call your husband, and he doesn’t pick up because it’s 1am, that’s the only chance you get. By the grace of God, they let me have 2 chances. And then, you wait. You wait for hours to see a Judge and all you can think about as you lay on the concrete floor watching sets of feet walk back and forth is, “This. Cannot. Be. Real”. I thought of my husband. I thought of my dog. I thought of my bed. I thought of Cheetos.
And I prayed. No, I begged. I begged God to meet me there on that cold floor. I pleaded with crocodile tears for Him to show me He was there, and He did. After seventeen hours, my name was called and I was escorted to the small office where I would meet my Judge to determine my bail (between $2-5,000). And He waived it. There, in the middle of the county jail, is where I learned what freedom truly feels like. What grace must be.
And that is where the story begins. Here, I sit, sobbing as I write, 10 months after my arrest date. We have spent more money, time, conversation, tears, and worry onthis…and what if? What if I hadn’t? In 3 weeks I will face a jury for 3 days, and there in a courtroom, a group of 6 people will decide my fate. They will decide if I will have to check “yes” under “Have you ever been convicted…” on a job application. They will decide if I visit a probation officer monthly or have my license revoked or am qualified to volunteer for Legacy House Austin. They will decide if I will be approved for adoption.
What I want you to know is that I do, without a doubt, know I have seen God’s grace thus far. I was not hurt. No one was. I could have killed someone, and I know that. But there is a grace needed in our world for people like me. For the ones looking for a second chance. The ones who know, repent, and wait. There is a need to remove the judgment from our eyes, our expressions, and when someone is vulnerable enough to share a mistake that may have ruined their life, we need figure out a way to help them through it. I want you to know that Christian men and women who are God-seeking, people-loving individuals make life-altering mistakes, and they are ashamed. The shame is so heavy and real. They need people like you to tell them it will be okay. They need people like you to hold their hand through the process and to check in with them. They need you to share your mistakes, too. They need you to remind them they are loved and forgiven and washed clean. They need you to pray. I need you to pray.