Buying Her Off the Street

If someone would’ve told me that six years after starting Hosea’s Heart, I’d be buying one of my daughters off the street, I would’ve said, “No way. You’re crazy. Count me out! I can’t put my heart through that kind of meat grinder.”

Yet, here I am, slumped in confusion and agony, holding nothing but a chaos of questions for God.

After not seeing her for five months, she finally made contact and said two of the most joyful words over the phone, “Hi, Mom.” She promised to meet me and the kids at church on Sunday. I had prayed and fasted. Numerous others were praying that she would follow through on her word and we could all reconnect as a family again. I was confident she would appear.

I was wrong.

She didn’t come. She didn’t call. She didn’t send a message. I was devastated, as I had felt God was preparing my heart for the past two weeks for this reunion. That my heart was finally tender again, that I could love like the Prodigal Father. I was in hopeful expectation for a beautiful reunion.

Instead, my reunion, my first sight of her after almost half a year, was far from beautiful. It was ugly, painful, shocking, and heartwrenching.

Ours eyes met through a car window as I drove past a street corner at nighttime. Never in my life did I think I would have to see her selling herself. I slammed on the breaks, threw the car into park, and lurched out my door, half-expecting I’d have to chase her down. She stood there in confusion, only recognizing it was me when it was too late.

My hand grabbed her arm and she moaned in agony of her own. “Eish, eish, eish,” she kept muttering and covered her face with her hands, refusing to let me see her. “What are you doing?” I nearly screamed. “You promised to meet me this morning. We were so excited to see you. But instead I have to see you like this?!”

There were no words, and the only thing that united us was our pain. “Get in the car,” I demanded. She shook her head no. “I’m taking you home.” She tried to resist. “You can do this any other night, I can’t control that. But not tonight. I will not stand here and let my daughter sell herself.” I half-drug her to the car and then she got in and silently cried.

I brought her to my apartment, where she could see the kids (I put on a brave face, pretending nothing was wrong, and watched the kids celebrate their mom). She covered them with kisses and “I love yous” but when they asked her to stay, she said no. I offered her old bed back, but she said no. I wanted to make her stay. I wanted to lock her in the house, which I easily could’ve done and she would’ve stayed. But when I asked the Lord, “God, what do I do?” He gently told my heart, “Let her go.”

I popped popcorn, because it was her favorite snack. We sent the kids to bed and I offered her the choice one more time. I knew my words had to be few, so my lecture was brief, “You always have choices. No matter how many bad ones you make, you NEVER run out of good ones. You can always make one right. You can choose to come back. You will always have a place here. We will love you forever.”

“Goodnight, Mom,” she said sadly, choosing to go.

“Here,” I handed her the popcorn. “And here’s what I owe you for your time tonight,” I handed her a large bill. She took it and wept immediately, shaking with sobs. I walked her to the door and asked for a hug before she entered the darkness again.

When she hugged me, she cried and cried, leaving large spots of tear-stains on my shoulder. And in that moment, suddenly I was back in 2009 when she was 13. She had lied about her life on the streets, but then finally admitted to being a prostitute, pretending it wasn’t a big deal. I remember looking at her face, her lips curved in a fake smile but her eyes holding wells of pain. “Do they hurt you? I just don’t want you getting hurt.” Suddenly, the smile evaporated and sounds of agony came from her lips instead. She melted into my hug and cried and cried on my shoulder.

But here I was nine years later, having nearly the same moment. The only difference was that back then, I was the one who walked away (returned to the States), but now I had to watch her walk away – away from our permanent home that we once shared together, away from safety, food, security, and love. To walk back to the very life I “rescued” her from all those years ago.

And all I could do was let her go.

And then I wept. And wept and wept. I dug my fists into my sheets and wanted to scream at God. So many questions, so much pain, so much anger.

Yet the only answer was: “Look to the cross. You bought her for the night, but I bought her with my life. The love and pain you have is just a sliver of mine. The magnitude of which I love her and weep for her is the same love I have for you. I won’t leave you, Kate. I will finish the work that I have started. You’ve done everything I’ve asked of you. Trust me now. It’s not over yet. It’s not over yet.”

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