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July 10, 2012

like crazy

Note: This happened a few weeks ago while I was in California and although parts may seem unbelievable, it's seriously true.

The atmosphere shifted after my brother Luke pointed her out to us. Look at that girl, he said, motioning over my shoulder. Did she get beat up?

We had just finished an incredible meal at one of Eureka's nicer restaurants and were enjoying post-dinner coffee and conversation in a dimly-lit dining room. The darkness made it difficult to see her face, though a large red mark on her cheek and forehead were visible. We took turns stealing glances at her and watching the waitress interact with her, trying to read the body language between them. 

She was sitting alone and looked upset, playing with her food, then the flowers on the table. It was very clear that something about her was just off. Then Luke, ever in tune with the supernatural, said I think she's a witch. His next sentence made my breath catch in my throat as he looked at me and said, Go talk to her.

I spent the next few minutes arguing with God, Are You sure You want me to do this? What would I even say? I tried to procrastinate as long as possible, hoping she would leave, though I knew she wouldn't.

I got up from our table, still without a clue what I would say to her. As I got to her table I heard myself saying, Excuse me, I really like your bracelet. Where did you get it?

Within five seconds of her answer, I knew I was dealing with one of the most mentally ill people I've ever been around. She spoke in stream-of-consciousness without making eye contact with me, saying the strangest, creepiest things I have ever heard and will dare not repeat here. I bent down next to the table and saw that the marks on her face were not cuts or bruises but hearts that she had drawn on. Bracelets covered both her wrists and she was in the midst of explaining what each one was.

I asked about the ring she had on her ring finger and it spun her into a story about how that ring is from Peter and he just left me. I told him I loved him and that I would wait for him but I'm done waiting. Everyone always leaves me and I don't know why. I want to take this ring off but it won't come off  because a parrot bit it and bent it to my finger. Here, see how it won't move? I want it to come off. I don't belong to him anymore.

She was trying to pull it off her finger and it was clear it really was stuck. Then she said, I think I feel it moving. I think you're helping, will you just stay here with me and see if I can get it off? I have some lotion in my purse. 

Within seconds, a massive amount of lotion covered her hands, and the waitress came over to see if everything was alright. I assured her it was and she pulled a chair around the table for me.

The woman (Larisa was one of the names she would eventually give me) was still talking in circles, oblivious to what was happening around her, solely focused on getting the ring off her finger. I asked if I could try and she gave me her hand. My knees began shaking under the table as I took her hand in mine, the first time I've ever had a physical reaction to something like this. Instinctively I began to pray JesusJesusJesus.

I pulled at the ring. It didn't move. At all. I began to see visions of taking her to the emergency room to get it cut off. Scared of hurting her, I asked her to try it again as I prayed under my breath. After pulling so hard I was sure her finger would come off too, the ring slipped off her finger.

It was clearly bent (though I have doubts that a parrot did it) and judging by the large cut at the base of her finger, it had been on a long time. She was so relieved, so happy, so thankful. You're so nice, she kept saying. You're the nicest person I've ever met.

I lost all track of time as I was sitting there talking to her- or rather, listening. She needed no prompting to continue a conversation. I could see my mom, Luke and Trey talking to the staff, who were asking them who we were and why we were helping this woman.

To make this very long story short, we left the restaurant with her after paying for her meal. (She insisted the police had her wallet.) Once outside, there were more shenanigans as she taught me how to pose like a ballerina, and attempted a "healing" by removing "bad energy" through my left thumb. 

trey took this picture outside the restaurant

As we helped her gather her things, Luke asked if we could pray for her. She said yes. We laid hands on her and immediately her body went limp and she collapsed forward into the wall. We braced her against it and continued to pray. For the first time in over an hour, Larisa was completely quiet, her eyes closed. Whatever was in her had been silenced. Toward the end she started to speak, saying things like I wish I had a family like you. I love you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

After we finished praying, we began walking down the street with her. She had became extremely agitated, screaming at cars that went by, cursing every other word. She eventually stormed ahead of us, yelling to no one and everyone. We continued to walk slowly and let her go ahead around the corner. When we reached it, she was halfway down the block, still yelling and seemingly unaware that we had ever been with her.

We watched as she turned the corner at the top of the block and disappeared from sight.

The next morning I ran past a homeless shelter where many people were waiting outside for breakfast. I didn't see Larisa. (We would learn later that Eureka has an extremely high rate of methamphetamine use, in addition to its high homeless population.)

I wish I could end this story with a happy ending of complete, immediate deliverance for her but I can't. All I can do is pray for her every time I think about her (which is daily; an experience like that is hard to shake) and know that the love and compassion that I felt for her is felt infinitely, outrageously, and incomprehensibly more by the One who created her.

So today, tomorrow, this week... look for an opportunity to love like crazy.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is not weird, it is perfect. Sometimes God puts you in someone's life for reasons unknown to both of you. A little kindness and a listening ear can go far.

    My knees would have absolutely been shaking too! Praying for a stranger is such a sweet thing, I have done it too little, but the few times I have will always remain with me.

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