“Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me, Psalm 51: 10,” yet another Bible Drill verse came to Sierra’s remembrance as she drove toward the temporary job office. She didn’t even want the radio on. It was as if Sierra wanted complete silence just in case the Holy Spirit had anything else to say. She wanted to be ready to hear it.
“Boy, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning and it feels like I have been going for twelve hours,” Sierra thought as she checked her hair, make-up, and teeth one last time before stepping out of her car and walking in the job office. A lot had happened in the past twenty-four hours; that was for sure. At this same time yesterday morning, Sierra was not the same person she was walking into that job office today. ‘Lord, open the job that you would have for me, not the one I would necessarily choose,’ she prayed.
‘Hello, my name is Sierra Bradley, I am interested in applying for a job,’ she said to the refined lady who sat behind the receiving counter in an airline stewardess type of uniform. ‘We are so glad you are here Miss Bradley, my name is Tanya and I will be happy to get you started with an application this morning. If you will take this questionnaire, and fill it out, it will give me a general idea of where your skills, and interest lie, if you have any questions feel free to ask.’ Tanya said as she handed Sierra a clip-board.
Name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, most of the top part of the form was routine information. The bottom; however was the beginning of about one- hundred personality type questions. ‘Man, they must be weeding out the terrorists with this questionnaire,’ Sierra laugh quietly inside as she began to write.
It took Sierra about fifteen minutes to complete the questionnaire, then another fifteen minutes of waiting after she turned it in. Finally, Tanya said, ‘If you will come with me,’ compelling Sierra to follow her lead down the narrow hallway. ‘We will take a timed test of your typing skills. It seems from the questionnaire you filled out you may be suited for an office type job. Does that sound like something you would be interested in?’ ‘Yes, actually that would be perfect,’ Sierra responded with a positive attitude, trying not to show too much excitement. ‘Be professional, but be natural at the same time,’ she told herself.
Sierra felt a bit rusty on her typing skills since she had not worked with a computer on a regular basis, but she knew she could type well enough that she would not embarrass herself. ‘We will give you a battery of three tests and then we will take an average word count from all three. Each section consists of a paragraph that contains words, numbers, and symbols. Your formatting skills will also be taken into account for some of our job postings, so you will want to keep that in mind. Errors will count against your word count, so it is better to type a bit slower and show accuracy than it is to have more words with errors. Does that make sense?’ Tanya asked as she set the test pages before Sierra.
‘Yes, I understand. Just tell me when to start and I will get to it,’ Sierra attempted to say with confidence though her heart was beating out of her chest, and her hands were shaking from nervousness. ‘Calm down Sierra, you can do this. There is nothing to worry about, the worst case scenario would be a job at a fast food place,’ Sierra kidded herself as she waited for the timer to start. ‘When you are finished typing all three paragraphs, hit the timer button to stop the clock. And…start,’ Tanya said as she flipped the switch on the digital timer.
The paragraphs were long, almost a full page each, Sierra was afraid she was going to lose her place while she typed. She remembered the teacher telling her it was important to learn to type without looking at her fingers, but she lacked confidence. Every few words, she just had to look down and make sure her fingers were where they were supposed to be. ‘Oh, Sierra, you are hitting that backspace button too much,’ she thought as she worked for perfection in every sentence.
Sierra stopped for just a second, took a deep breath, and reminded herself that she was not in control of this test, God was. She needed to let him have it. With that reminder, the second and third paragraph did not bring as much stress as the first. ‘And…stop,’ Sierra said as she reached for the timer button.
Twelve minutes and twenty-two seconds, that was her time. She wondered if that was a good time or not. Tanya said, ’Well, the time looks great, now let’s just check and see how many errors you have. Each error will add to your time. Sierra was not expecting Tanya to find very many errors, she had been careful, actually typing slower than usual to make sure it was as close to perfect as possible.
‘If you will wait right here, I will check it over on my computer,’ Tanya said. A long five minutes later, Tanya came back with a smile. ‘Yep, girl, you ripped that test up. I only found two errors in all three paragraphs,’ Tanya boasted. ‘So now I will send your information to the places that require such a skill, and they should be contacting you before the end of the week. If you don’t hear from someone by Friday, give me a call, but I don’t think that will be the case.’ ‘What kinds of places will you be sending my information to,’ inquired Sierra. Lawyer’s offices, banks, doctor’s offices, and things like that, they are usually the ones looking for a receptionist or a secretary with typing skills, and they usually pay better than the other jobs too, so you should do fine.’ Tanya encouraged Sierra as gathered her things and headed to her car.
‘I really need to get a new phone,’ Sierra thought as she prepared to drive out of the parking lot of the job office, ‘But maybe it would be a wise decision to wait until I have a secure job before I sign a two year contract.’ she thought.
‘I wanted to call Rachael and Trisha, I guess I will just have to stop by their houses and leave a note if they aren’t home,’ Sierra decided that would be her best bet. Rachael lived closer to the job office than Trisha did, so Sierra went there first. As she pulled in the driveway, it was surreal to see the baby swing on the tree, a stroller on the carport, and a bicycle with a baby carrier on the back. Rachael got married about a year after she graduated from high school. Presley, her baby girl, was about fifteen months old.
It seemed strange to Sierra that her best friend was married with a baby, had her own house, and was about to graduate from college with her teaching degree. ‘I wonder if that is where I would be if I had made different choices,’ she thought. She wrote Rachael a note and stuck it in the door:
Mrs. Rachael Ragsdale, (still seems weird to me ) March 5
I came by but you weren’t here. I am home now – so if you have
any free time, give me a call. I would love to see Presley, and spend
time with you. Just let me know. I don’t have a phone here yet, so
just call me at my Mom and Dad’s house.
Tell Jason I said hello too!
‘Well, let me go see if I can catch Trisha at home. She works at the dentist office, so if she isn’t home, I could probably catch her there,’ Sierra thought to herself as she pulled out of Rachael’s driveway. ‘Boy, I sure hope I catch her, I need to tell them what has happened to me in the past twenty-four hours. I need them to celebrate with me, or tell me I am crazy, or something!’ Sierra was starting to feel alone and anxious. Silverside Apartments – that’s where Trish lives. Trisha Warren had been Sierra’s sidekick since first grade. She was in nursing school at LSU, working on the side as a dental assistant three days a week.
‘Ok, Silverside, this is it, she used to be in A-3, now she lives in apartment D-7, let me see if I can find it,’ Sierra thought as she drove around the complex looking at the numbers posted on the doors and buildings. H, I, J, no, I must be going the wrong way; these letters are going up, not down. Sierra turned around and drove in the opposite direction, J, I, H, G, F, E, D…
’There it is, D.” she bragged to herself. She parked her car and walked to the doors looking for number seven. ‘Here it is,’ when Sierra found it, she rang the doorbell. She waited and rang it again, but there was no answer. Disappointed, she decided to just leave Trish a note too.
Hey Trish –
This is Sierra; I stopped by to tell you what has been going
on in my crazy life for the past couple of days, give me a
call when you get a chance. I don’t have a phone yet – so
just call Mom and Dad’s house.
Maybe we can go to dinner or catch a movie - - let me know.
Love ya – S xxoo
‘Ok, so no one is home this morning, who can I talk to?’ Sierra pondered in her mind that may be home right now that would care about what was going on in her life. ‘Mmmm, maybe Alisa is home, boy I hate not having my phone, it sure makes things difficult!’ she thought as she pulled out of Trisha’s apartment complex and headed to her brother’s house.
Grant and Alisa lived on the other side of town in a house they built when they first got married four years ago. Alisa is only a year older than Sierra, even though Grant is almost thirty. They don’t have any children yet, Alisa wanted to finish nursing school first. She will graduate in about six weeks.
‘She would understand how I feel about Grayson being older than me. Please be home Alisa – I am going to go crazy if you aren’t’ Sierra thought. She drove up the driveway and saw Alisa’s car in the garage. ‘Thank you Lord!’ she shouted out loud as she parked.
Sierra rang the doorbell, and poked her head in the front door, ‘Hello, is anybody home?’ She said before she went inside. She heard Alisa yell from the back room, ‘Yes, I am here, come on in, I will be right out.’ Sierra sat in a barstool in the kitchen and waited for Alisa to come out.
‘Hey, what’s up,’ Alisa said as she rounded the corner putting an earring in her left ear. ‘I was just about to head out the door to meet a friend for lunch, you wanna come with us?’
‘Well, I hate to be a third wheel, I just wanted to talk to someone about what happened last night, and you were on my list of people who care,’ Sierra said laughingly. ‘Well, come go with me, we can talk in the car on our way to meet Annette. We are going to hit lunch traffic anyway, so it will take at least twenty minutes to get there, then we can talk on the way back too if you want.’ ‘You’re the best, Alisa,’ she said.
‘Why don’t you move your car so I can pull out, then you can park yours in the garage while we are gone,’ Sierra did as Alisa ordered. ‘Do you have your phone? I wanted to just touch base with Mother and let her know where I am and how the job interview went,’ Sierra asked as she got into Alisa’s car. ‘Yes, I have it. What job interview? You didn’t tell me you had a job interview today,’ Alisa whined.
‘The truth is; I didn’t know I had one until this morning when Daddy suggested I go to a temp office and find a job that would tie me over until something more permanent came open. I really want to go to school, so I don’t want to strap myself down with a full time job commitment, but I need something that will generate enough income for me to pay my car note, get a new phone, and maybe an apartment in a month or two.’
‘Hold on a second, let me call Mother real quick,’ Sierra stopped Alisa just as she was about to speak. ‘Hello,’ Alisa could hear Judith speaking on the other end of the line. ‘Hey Mom, it’s me. I am with Alisa. We are going to get a bite to eat. I went by Rachael’s and Trish’s but they were both gone, so I came by to talk to Alisa and she invited me to lunch. I just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t be worried,’ she said. Sierra’s Mother always appreciated knowing where she was, even though she was not a kid anymore. ‘Okay honey, thanks for letting me know,’ Judith responded and hung up the phone. Talking on the phone was not her favorite thing to do, but sometimes it was necessary.
‘So, what’s up is everything okay?’ Alisa said as soon as Sierra hung up the phone. ’Now it is, but I am not going to lie to you, the past twenty-four hours have been the most surreal of my entire life. I told you last night at church that I think I love this guy Grayson, and I don’t even know him. Last night, just as I was trying to go to sleep, the phone rang, it was PJ. Alisa, he called to say he loved me. He called to say he had taken leave to come to Louisiana because he had something he wanted to give me. I am almost sure it’s a ring. I feel so bad – I cried myself to sleep over it, but the only thing for me to do was to tell him the truth.
‘What did you tell him?’ asked Alisa. ’The truth, I told him the truth. I told him that I think I have met the man God wants me to marry, as crazy as that sounds, and that if I can have feelings for another man, then that is confirmation in my spirit that he is not the one I am supposed to be with for the rest of my life. I told him that I was sorry for leading him to the wrong impression of what Christianity is truly about, and that I have not been a good example for him. Then, before I could say anything else, he said that he would never talk to me again, but that he had called to say he loved me. With that, he hung up the phone. I tried not to cry, but it was no use, it hurt! He was my sidekick. We were best friends. He called me his baby-doll. Alisa I love PJ, I still love him, but I realize after what happened yesterday that I am not in love with him. Only God can match people up in such a way that they are truly in love, and to our understanding it makes no sense. The way I feel when I even think of Grayson makes no sense to me whatsoever! I just know that it is God.
‘You did the right thing Sierra, you know that don’t you. You did the right thing, and now PJ in God’s hands just the way you are. God has a plan for him too. He is not going to lead him astray. You have to believe that and let go of your guilt.’
’Well, that’s not all of the weirdness that has happened to me since I told you how I felt about Grayson last night. After church, he came to my car window and said the Lord had given him something that he had to tell me, but he didn’t exactly know why. He said, ‘If there are any windows open to the world in my life, before God can have his way with me, I would have to close them,’ or something along those lines. I knew immediately what he was talking about, but Alisa, how did he know to say that to me? It had to be directly from God. Then, this morning, something even more unusual happened. If I didn’t believe it, I would think I was going nuts. I got in my car to head to the job interview at the temp office, and I heard someone speak to me and say, ‘Clean the glove box out.’ Now I looked around and there was no one there. It was the Holy Spirit! I actually heard the Holy Spirit speak out loud to me in my car and tell me to clean my glove box out.
What no one knows is that my glove box is where I keep my secrets, things I know are not right, that I don’t want everyone to see, but that I haven’t been able to let go of until now. So, I opened the glove box, broke all of my cigarettes, threw away everything I was holding on to, and I was instantly set free. I have been delivered, completely and totally delivered from addiction, and a lifestyle that did not glorify God. If God wants me to be a part of Grayson’s life, and I think that he does, I am ready for it. Two days ago I wasn’t, but now I am.
I even went for a job interview at the temporary job office this morning and God spoke to me while I was taking the test. I feel so different inside. I feel like my whole purpose for living and being on this planet has come to a new place – even today. I feel light, I feel free, almost like I am not even myself. I have truly been emptied out – and now God is going to fill me with what he wants. I am excited and scared at the same time.
‘Wow! What a testimony! I don’t know if I have ever heard of God doing a complete turnaround in someone’s life literally overnight, but it seems like that is what has happened to you. I can see why you are overwhelmed. It means a lot to me that you would feel comfortable enough to share all of those intimate details with me, I want you to know that,’ Alisa said in response to Sierra’s confession.
‘No, thank you! Thank you for being there for me-for not judging me - and for your willingness to listen to my crazy life stories. Of all people, I know I can count on you, and that is a blessing,’ Sierra humbly admitted.