Stop and Go Traffic...
You’re all caught up, right? Good. Here we go, y'all! Part III!
I had one good friend who would really understand: my die-hard Sister-in-Christ (and high school friend) who lived in Pennsylvania, way up in the mountains with lots of trees and narrow roads and too few streetlights for this city girl's taste. When I got through the Holland Tunnel in New Jersey, I stopped to get gas. And as I got gas, I remembered from another journey that when I didn’t have a destination, I had to sit still. Furthermore, I didn’t have a phone. If anyone would have answered the door in the middle of the night, it would have been her. But I didn’t want to do that to her.
Plus dark roads and me. With no phone. Not my idea of fun.
So I waited; first in the parking lot of the 7-11. There was a lot of traffic moving through there, like the family in the minivan on the way to Atlantic City. My windows were rolled down enough to get air and get the tea. It is still about 80 degrees after 11 pm. I tried my best not to drink anything. Staving off public restrooms for as long as possible was my goal. But again, 80 degrees.
I googled Starbucks to find a clean restroom. And where would the Starbucks be? In a pretty upscale neighborhood in Jersey City. When I get over there, it is a glittering waterfront park and marina. However, Google is misinformed. Starbucks is closed except for workers inside.
I put nature on hold for a bit because I didn’t want to go back to 7-11. How one can be bougie, with no other apparent options, I don’t know. But the other reason I’m sitting still is because, well, there's a waterfront park and marina. I love the water. Across from this waterfront gem, on the other side of the East River, One World Trade Center and Battery Park City are lit up like diamonds when the lights hit them just right. My home, New York City is bejeweled and sparkling against the black sky and the shiny patent leather waters.
There’s no parking allowed, but I can sit and wait.
I talk to God a little bit. And then I look for the Periscope of my young prophet. He is on live! He has a gift. And he knows the Word. And then he calls my name.
“Yvette. Yvette, if you’re on this line, God told me to tell you…”
At the time, my Periscope log in name was not Yvette. It was pearsonlee.
I can’t type quickly enough.
I am Lisa Yvette.
And then he begins to tell me a few things about who I am and what was about to happen. He also talks about what I’d been through, saying that God allowed me to be in this place of learning patience. He tells me that God heard my prayers and that my life was changing. He said, I had many books inside of me. And that God wants me to journal Him.
I cried my eyes out.
It was a combination of relief because I knew God had heard my cries for understanding and had seen my struggle and knew I wanted to serve Him. And because, well, I was overwhelmed.
It was a high, I tell you.
Nothing could bring me down…except nature.
As I coasted through the canopy of luxury sky rises and carefully planted baby trees, there in front of me, was a 24-hour Duane Reade that I recalled vaguely from the ride in. They’re not known to have bathrooms for customers, but I buy a few necessities and ask anyway.
So yeah, when I get back to the 7-11, under the glare of fluorescent lighting, there are some affluent Asian kids in there fussing about the hot food. One has a choppy Mohawk fade hairdo. He’s the shortest, but the leader it seems. His white t-shirt is fitted. His Bermuda shorts are a baby blue made of the finest cotton. His hands are in the pockets as he asks questions. And his loafers are light grey and dark grey animal print of the Ucan Taffordit brand. Don’t try to find them in the stores. They’re that exclusive. His friend is slumming in a pair of unscuffed Gucci loafers. There are two others. They’re inspecting the food on the far end.
I put a Mountain Dew on the counter next to the cash register and go to the bathroom.
Jesus be a sanitizer waterfall.
In my head, I heard the universal command given to all children when entering a public restroom. Don't. Touch. Anything.
Mercifully, the toilet bowl was free of bodily fluid or floating matter. And there was tissue. But no soap. Baby wipes for the save. But ewww.
The four are still at the counter.
One clerk is wrapped up in trying to answer the barrage of questions. The other is doing who knows what before he finally comes to the counter to ring me up. I’m only slightly annoyed. It’s not like I have an appointment somewhere. Besides I am people-watching again.
I pay for my stuff and leave. I drive back to the pretty waterfront. The couples have all gone. The other random cars have left. The security guard passes once, then twice.
I go back to Duane Reade.
When I get over there, I decide I am going to get out and see if they have an ice pack or something. It is 2 am and it is still 80+ degrees, no breeze, or need I remind you, A/C. I barely got my foot out of the car. The Holy Spirit told me to get back in that car. I did.
Sometimes, I am not sure if I am interpreting what is being said properly or clearly. But at that moment, I heard clearly.
I didn’t witness anything crazy so that I might say, “Oh, that’s why He told me to sit.” I wish. Because that would have made a better story for you guys – and made more sense to me, but nope. There’s just the occasional passersby and young Otis the security guard passing by on foot and in his security patrol SUV.
And so I sat, and I read, and I closed my eyes though sleep wouldn’t come. I recalled how the bears smash the car windows and grab food at campsites. Not that Jersey City is the wilderness, but I probably just really need to stop watching TV. And so I watched a replay of the young prophet, googled to see what time the sun rose, and checked Instagram. And then I posted from my heart: Believe. Keep on Believing. Because right then, I saw how much I did believe God, but had moments of doubt that caused me to put the belief on hold.
It also hit me that I had just had the scariest and most amazing day! I seriously said WTF! I won’t lie to you for the sake of keeping the saints from clutching the pearls. For that reason, I won’t print it. But this was huge for me!
If you knew me, you’d know I am very purposeful about where I go and what I do. If I have to go somewhere, I knock out a few things in that area so I don’t have to drive all over to run errands. I go to the mall if I need something and that’s it. But that day, I left my house without a destination.
Huge, I tell you!
The most amazing thing about the day was that I realized how much God had been by my side the whole time. Even when I felt He’d left me hanging.
As I was sitting outside the Duane Reade, the guy in the exquisite loafers by SameAs Mortgage walked by, by himself. Undoubtedly headed home. He walked by quickly. Maybe headed to a bathroom that didn’t need a Pine Sol bomb dropped on it. I don’t know.
It occurred to me that I paid so much attention to them at the 7-11 because I felt so very alone in the world; disconnected. That evening reminds me that we are not here to exist in our own little Christian bubble, but to get out and be kind and helpful to others. I didn’t need to be into what those guys had going, or even have a conversation with them, that’s not what I mean. But I just mean sometimes speaking to a stranger can let them know that they are not invisible, are connected, somehow, and that God is real.
My thoughts were not this clear that night. All I knew was that I had these (seemingly long) moments of sitting still. But I couldn’t sleep because even though my body was resting, the rest of me wasn’t. My mind wondered what was next. It also managed my emotions and tried to make sense of them. And then when it did manage to calm my emotions, there was another thought and a strong desire to pray which adds a new dimension to it all. Because what will the Holy Spirit say when I prayed? Would there be a new direction? Or would I need to stay put a little longer? And would I be brave enough to do it?
And then finally the sky began to lighten from black to a purple to a deep lilac with cloud puffs and a little haze. The light of the new day brought comfort. I didn’t have time to be anxious anyway. I had a sunrise to witness on the waterfront.
And it was beautiful: orange and pink at the very base of the skyline (at lower left corner) and daylight peeking through the clouds. The picture does it no justice at all.
This is only eleven hours into my journey. Jesus.
And then, I left. I parked on a side street once the sun came up and napped for about an hour. I awakened with an urge to check the scripture.
It is finished.
I was confused. What is finished?
Half an hour later, after mulling it over for a bit, I pulled into Target’s parking lot where I plucked stray hairs from my chin and brushed my teeth with toothpaste and bottled water. Baby wipes for the face cleaning. And foundation. Always foundation.
When they opened, I went in to use the restroom, more baby wipes, and the wifi.
I checked in with my mother via FaceTime.
“Where are you? Are you okay? What’s happening next? You washed up in the bathroom? Like you’re homeless?!”
I assured her that God had me covered. My sisters were just as baffled, and worried, too. You’d think they’d have learned from other inspired trips that made no sense to anyone - myself included – that it makes no sense to try to figure it out. The only response is “okay.” Not “why?” Not “Really? So what’s next?” Because I don’t have the answer anyway. I’m not sure if that frustrates them or me more. I think them. I kind of have gotten used to it.
And so I sat in the car in the heat and humid. With no breeze.
I went back to my Word. It is finished. I heard the Lord say I had officially died to my flesh, as Christ had done. I had chosen God’s will despite fear, discomfort, uncertainty, and limited funds.
I won’t lie to you.
I surprised myself.
This is my journey of faith with Jesus as my navigator and Google Maps as my back up.
See you next Monday for installment FOUR of No Parking! (Click HERE to catch up if you've missed parts one and two!)
Sign up here to receive these Journey of Faith blogs (and only these Journey of Faith blogs!) as soon as they post!