• Broken Places: A View from the Other Side (part 3 of 4)


    By Shelly Beach

    I “met” Wanda Sanchez when she booked me to talk about my book The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk on her San Francisco radio show.

    I guess I did a good job because afterwards she booked me to do a series of shows on my caregiving books.

    We never talked, but why would we? I lived in Michigan, and she lived in California. She sent me emails about what time to answer my phone and asked me for interview questions. That was it.

    But I couldn’t forget her name. A voice inside my head kept telling me to call her. Which seemed kind of silly, really. I didn’t have a clue what I’d say to her.

    Two weeks passed. A month, and the voice kept nagging.

    Out of curiosity, I looked up Wanda Sanchez on Facebook—a woman who had a bazillion friends and certainly didn’t need another one. But I couldn’t find a shred of personal information about her except for one tiny fact: she had a heart for inner-city missions and broken people.

    Since it seemed I wouldn’t get any peace until I called her, I decided to pitch a friend to be on her show: Steve Siler, founder of Music for the Soul. Steve is a Dove Award-winning songwriter who’s written hundreds of songs on all kinds of tough issues: suicide, breast cancer, special needs children, sexual abuse, pornography, and other things the church has a hard time talking about.

    Even though Wanda’s emails told me she clearly wasn’t interested in chatting, she scheduled me for ten minutes. I could tell I was lucky to get that.

    Without really thinking, I sent Wanda three songs by my friend Steve: Dead Hearts Don’t Cry—about the pain of sexual abuse, Every Single Tear—how God cares about our heartaches, and Renee is Fourteen—the story of a broken child who runs away from home and hitchhikes from Kansas to California to escape the pain of her life.

    And nothing in the email explaining why a stranger was sending three songs about sexual abuse.


    So I was surprised when an angry, defensive Wanda answered the phone without so much as a “hi.” Just a single cold question: “Why did you send me those songs?”

    The only answer I had was the truth. “I read on Facebook that you have a heart for people in inner city missions. So I sent you Renee Is Fourteen because I figured you probably knew a Renee. And if you knew a Renee, I thought you probably cared about her.”

    For a moment Wanda was silent, then she sobbed as words tumbled out. “I am Renee.”

    For the next two and a half hours she spewed her story like water from a hydrant on a steaming summer day.

    Abuse. Abandonment. Torture. Neglect. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that had crescendoed with the passing years. Brutal battles she’d hidden for decades.

    And, then, the jaw-dropping fact that she’d hitchhiked across the country and back as a fourteen-year-old teenager. She was not only Renee, she was every song God had directed me to send her.

    Three things became clear to me before I hung up the phone that day.

    Wanda was planning to kill herself–soon.

    She needed trauma treatment, and she needed it fast.

    And God had a plan, even though neither one of us couldn’t quite see it yet.


    To be continued

    * To receive free downloads of the songs mentioned above, write to steve@musicforthesoul.org.

    ** If you haven’t downloaded your COMPLIMENTARY copy of our e-book, The Truth About Trauma, here is a link to the download page. Great information and a valuable resource. Download  your COMPLIMENTARY copy today!


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