Like many victims, she didn’t tell anybody about her years of sexual abuse. When she was a teenager, she resorted to drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. She left home at fifteen, lived in a house with a bunch of guys, became a thief, and skipped school. By the time she was seventeen, she was so desperate she tried to violently take her own life by running onto a busy street in front of a truck.
Fortunately, the driver swerved and the girl landed in a psychiatric ward instead of the morgue. A youth minister visited her many times and spoke to her about God’s love. Eventually, she felt God’s presence within her while alone in her hospital room. After this experience, she cleaned up her act and even went to church. But she was drawn back to her old lifestyle and drugging friends. At eighteen, she became pregnant.
At this young age, she had faced multiple opportunities to turn toward or away from God, as we all do by the time we enter adulthood.
My wise husband often says what matters most is which direction we’re going. So I often ask myself this question, especially when I’m frustrated with myself – my lack of home organization, weight gain, various parenting issues and even what to write about. I know these are small problems, but living in this hi-tech age of immediate gratification (where the push of a few buttons can often get us exactly what we need) I’d love for all my problems, big or small, to be solved quickly and painlessly. Some days I want the house to sweep itself, the extra pounds to melt away, the kids to fall in line without guidance and the awesome blog idea to pour out of my fingertips and magically upload itself with a perfectly appropriate aesthetically pleasing photo.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.
All we can hope for in a given day is to try and prayerfully head in the right direction, even if we’re only capable of a few shaky baby steps. For today, I tackle that pile on my desk rather than avoid it. So, for today, I try and eat healthfully. For today, I try a new parenting strategy. For today, I blog or at least stare at my blank screen and pray for words. And in doing so, I turn toward God and the life He wants for me.
And if I fail, I try again.
This young pregnant woman did that. She turned toward God and her church because she wanted more for her baby than the empty drug-filled life she’d been living. Her church supported her and even bought her a car so she could get to her jobs. Today she’s a living an extraordinary life. Her name, one you probably don’t recognize is Pattie Mallette and she’s Justin Bieber’s biggest fan. Why? Because she’s his proud Mama. Justin is currently the most famous and influential teen in the world (he has over 16 million Twitter followers, second only to Lady Gaga and gaining about 24,000 more followers each day). From what I can glean from their many “tweets,” both mom and son adore each other, are faithfully walking toward God, entertaining millions and supporting a large variety of good causes.
Reading Belieber by Cathleen Falsani, watching Justin’s Never Say Never concert movie (twice – I couldn’t help myself, the footage of him as a young kid is mesmerizing – he’s supernaturally talented) and viewing a bunch of his YouTube videos, I have to confess, I heart both of them. Don’t worry, it’s not love in the shrieking, crying and shaking way many of Justin’s fans express their big feelings. It’s appropriately aged appreciation (though I confess there’s a little giddiness too). Their story, after all, is full of love, hope and redemption. It tells us, if you head down the wrong path, it’s possible to make your way back. In Pattie’s miraculous case, she ran straight into the path of a large truck, but God redeemed her story and her life in such a wonderful, poignant way.
And don’t we all want to “beliebe” a story like that?