Does your life sometimes seem meaningless?
If so I’d like to tell you about a homeless woman who rose from the gutter to turn her life around. And in the process, she discovered meaning in life as she came to appreciate what many people take for granted.
Her name is Deborah Jones and when she was just 12; her father abandoned her and her family. Her mother was forced to move Deborah and her other three children into her mother’s Dayton, OH home and work multiple menial jobs to support her family.
Deborah was young and impressionable, and hurting from the loss of her father. But instead of receiving love and made to feel safe and secure she was sexually assaulted by one of her uncles.
Fearful for what he would do to her if she told others, and feeling ashamed, she told no-one and the abuse continued for two years, until the family moved out.
Deborah’s self-esteem sank through the floor and she dropped out of high school. At 17, she married a man who she thought loved her. Instead, starting the night of their wedding rehearsal, he beat her.
The beatings became so frequent; she couldn’t hide the cuts and bruises and was embarrassed for anyone to see her.
But thinking he was the only man who would ever love her, Deborah stayed with him. The couple had one child and she became pregnant with another.
Then one night, he began beating her so hard, her life and that of her unborn child were at risk. In desperation, Deborah grabbed a kitchen knife and thrust it into his chest.
This made him wild with anger. Deborah, who was 8 months pregnant dropped to the floor and covered her stomach to protect her baby. As she begged for mercy, he seized a two by four and was about to smash her, when suddenly he fell to his knees and collapsed in a pool of blood.
He was rushed to the hospital and nearly died. But when he recovered, Deborah took him back.
The beatings soon started again and after many police interventions and various stays at battered women’s shelters with her children, Deborah quietly began to move her things out, a few at a time to her mother’s home. One day when he was gone, she and the kids moved in with her mother.
To numb the pain of her miserable existence and to get high Deborah began drinking cheap wine. It wasn’t long before she was hooked on alcohol and leaving her kids with her mother as she took off with one man after the next.
Often drunk, Deborah abandoned her children to her mother and eventually met husband No. 2, a drug dealer. One night with her children in the apartment the couple shared and his sister and her child also there, three men kicked in the front door.
They brutally beat him and repeatedly raped Deborah and his sister. When they were done, one man was left behind to execute everyone.
He put a gun to Deborah’s head and as she cried out in the name of Jesus, he couldn’t pull the trigger. In disgust, he lowered the gun and left the apartment, leaving the man, the traumatized women and their terrified children alive.
During the off and on relationship with this drug dealer, whom she married and divorced and then a relationship that followed, Deborah and a friend became prostitutes. She lived in roach infested housing projects with her children and at times left her kids with her mother.
She also had another child, this one by a married man.
Although her children were hungry, she often spent her welfare money and sold the food stamps to buy cheap wine. Eventually her children moved in with her family.
Alcohol controlled her life and she sunk into homelessness. “Nobody wants them,” Deborah said of the homeless. “I had my whole life in my cart. But the most important things were my crow bar [for protection] and my wine.”
At times, Deborah got off the streets to live in the worst of the housing projects. She furnished her living space with filthy, stained old furniture from alleys or dumpsters.
During this time, she met husband No.3, who in a jealous rage, stabbed an old boyfriend of hers and then with his car, ran over another old friend. Both men survived but he went to prison and Deborah divorced him.
Homeless and addicted, Deborah was at rock bottom. Her life seemed meaningless and likely to end soon in violence in the stench of a urine stained, garbage strewn back alley.
But then just when things looked their worst, a “miracle” happened to Deborah.
In the next KazanToday:
The remarkable conclusion to our story.