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church of uber – ELIZABETH

November 7, 2017 12 comments

The Uber Express is back up and rollin’. A two-month hiatus is over. Uber world was a bit freaky this past week. You’d be surprised at how many people need a ride at 3:30 a.m. on a Monday morning! Tuesday morning greeted traffic with a snarling ice storm. Olympian ice skater Michelle Kwan could have pretty much pirouetted her way across town on any given street. One of my normal 15-minute rides took 1.5 hours. Not a real problem unless you have three cups of coffee in your bladder! Perry (my rider) builds lattice electrical towers in Alaska, so he kept me pretty entertained for most of that ride with stories and video.

It’s weird being in the car hours before sunrise. Everything looks so different. Even though you realize what part of town you’re in, it all seems the same. Only the neon lights give hints of what’s really going on under the cover of such darkness. One of the older areas of Colorado Springs has a large number of rundown retro motels. It’s definitely charming if you’re into old school, but it’s really telling of who and what you’re likely to encounter in that neighborhood. There are lots and lots of weed shops in that area. You’ll also see constant foot traffic of the indigent and homeless. It’s kind of like eating at Waffle House (I LOVE ME SOME WAFFLE HOUSE!). It’s just a different kind of experience. You gotta get your mind right about what you might possibly encounter… no matter what time of day!

At one such motel, I picked up Elizabeth. She and her fiancé live in one of those tiny rooms. The sign in front of this place wasn’t touristy or even inviting. The flaking paint on the wobbly sign could only be seen because of a single light bulb swaying above the sign. There were about 15 rooms, but only three cars in the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. I suspect that most of the visitors to this motel are hourly customers. A wee bit earlier, and I figure things would have been much busier at that particular motel.

When I drove up in front of the room, a shirtless burly guy opened the door and gave me the “just a second” signal. Within a couple of minutes, Elizabeth was shuffling towards the car. Shuffling is the right word. I thought it could have possibly been muscular dystrophy or some kind of palsy. Her back was super straight and it wasn’t a normal walking gait. As Elizabeth opened the back door, she greeted me with a super friendly, “good morning” (not a typical greeting that time of day), and a beautiful smile. I liked her immediately.

My new ride is much smaller than the Suburban I’ve been using the past year. People sit much closer to me, so I smell my clients now. If you fried bacon for breakfast, I know it. If you smoked weed all night, I know it. If you drank bourbon during Happy Hour, I know it. If you love wearing Polo… God help me… I know it. By the fragrance that reached me when she got into the car, my guess is that Elizabeth and her fiancé have several pets sharing the room with them. It wasn’t overwhelming, but definitely noticeable. But within a few seconds, I couldn’t have cared less. This girl was so sweet! Unbelievably gentle, and Elizabeth dripped with caring love for the people she works with at the dry cleaners where she’s employed. She really had an infectious spirit. Such a lovely kid!

As we neared her drop off, I asked, “So Elizabeth, I noticed a little hitch in your gitty-up as you walked to the car earlier.” She said, “You saw that huh?” Over my shoulder I responded, “Yeah I did. What you got working there honey?” “Well,” she said, “I was hit by a car when I was sixteen. I was messed up pretty bad. I’ve had lots of surgeries and I’m a bit of a miracle.” The short of it is that she spent a couple of years recovering from all kinds of surgeries for the spinal cord injury she received. She wasn’t supposed to live, much less ever walk again. Of course, the driver didn’t have a legal drivers license or insurance, so there was no insurance money for her medical bills. So, dad and mom pretty much sold everything they had to get Elizabeth the help she needed.

The story was brutal, but cheer never left her voice. Finally I said, “Babe, listen, that’s a lot of pain and heartache you went through in that season, but I don’t detect any bitterness. None. How is that possible?” She put her hand on my shoulder and her eyes filled with tears. “Thank you so much for saying that,” she said. “I was bitter for too many years. I was mad at God, at that driver, at all of that pain and what it did to my parents. But I’ve worked hard to forgive and let all of that go. I’m alive, my parents have recovered, and I have a happy life. Bitterness was doing more harm to me than my injuries from the accident. ”

I didn’t wipe away my tears because I didn’t want her to know that I was crying. It was in that moment I realized how very privileged I was to share space with this beautiful miracle who had a tender heart for people and life.

Being around people who are truly grateful will move stuff inside you. Elizabeth filled the air with calming peace and hopeful grace. You just know not everything is easy for someone like her, but she lives way beyond her past and high above her situation today. I know it gets said a lot, but she made my day. Yup! Elizabeth made my entire day. In the truest sense of the word, she is an overcomer. There’s not too many of those shuffling around.

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

BE GOOD AT LIFE!

Mike

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