March 15, 2005
Ashley Smith at 16 had a 1996 shoplifting conviction. When she was 18 she was guilty of two counts of possessing alcohol as a minor. In her early twenties she twice was arrested for speeding -- once while DUI.
I know some pretty well-to-do hoity-toity types who have had their licenses revoked for driving while under the influence of alcohol. It's unlikely, though, that any of the others who attend social events with them will ever know. It is further unlikely that this bit of information would ever become worthy of note by a national news outlet. But then again, it's just as unlikely that any of them has the where with all to accomplish what Ashley Smith has. Not even equipped as they are with all their finely honed social skills; (you know -- dressing and accessorizeing, and balancing themselves on a pair of high-heeled Pradas, while holding a cocktail in one hand and kissing the air near the cheek of acquaintances as they mingle.)
I knew the media had to drop the other shoe (hopefully not the Prada), because, God forbid we should hold this woman up as a hero, a saint, or as Brian Nichols referred to her -- an angel. Why, after all, she's no angel, she has, gasp, a past. I think at this point it's also important to point out that she's a smoker, too. Having been on a cigarette run myself late at night with a coat over my pajamas, I was personally pleased to learn that God can use even smokers (if He must) to get a job done.
While watching Smith on television yesterday, I couldn't help thinking: "Wow, you just can't get a better story to serve as a faith builder." In fact, I called my eight year old son in to watch Smith tell her story just so I could put my hand on his shoulder and point to the screen and say, "Do you see? Do you see what great things God can do through an ordinary person?" And that really is the problem, isn't it? That God might have had something do with how this incredible scenario played out. OH. MY. GOD.
Twenty-four years ago today, my mother died of lymphoma. She was about as old as I am right now. Just a few months before her death, I was on a bus on my way to town that took a detour -- into a building. Because of weather conditions and a driver of a car that decided to drive into our lane -- towards us -- our bus swerved, lost control, and hit a brick wall.
A young pregnant woman that who had been sitting across from me was killed. The rest of us received varying degrees of injuries. Because I was in the front of the bus, I awoke from a concussion to find the passengers in that area piled on top of me, with the debris from the building atop them. I was twenty-three years old and scared. I had never once considered in those twenty-three years my own mortality. I was still pretty comfortable until then living immortally.
I had decided that if I made it out of that bus alive and well, I was going to find a way -- any way -- to be comfortable with death. Not just my own, but my mother's impending death as well. My search led me to the Bible and consequently to Christ. I was a changed person. I'd hate to think that the changes God has made in my life could in any way be diminished by how I conducted my life pre-God. After all, that is what makes my new life worth any mention at all.
I don't think that Ashley Smith's past will in any way negate her incredible story. I would like to suggest, however, that God (there's that word again) may have allowed Smith her convictions so as to have a "time of reckoning" with her. It seems that it was that past that led Smith to take a good look at herself and make changes. I believe there comes a time in all of our lives when we are presented with some ugly truths about whom we've become. A time when we hit our own brick wall and suddenly the direction our choices have taken us becomes clearly visible. When that realization came to Smith, she choose to ask God to change her life -- to give her life a purpose.
Ashley read to Nichols from the 33rd chapter of "The Purpose-Driven Life". The chapter begins with a scripture from Matthew 7:16: "You can tell what they are by what they do." Amen.
Rose is co-host of Quinn and Rose in the Morning. A syndicated political morning show out of Pittsburgh, PA. She has nothing against Prada shoes, or any shoes for that matter.