I was nine years old when Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched off her street in South Lake Tahoe. I, like her, had long blonde hair and snaggled adult teeth that hadn’t yet been straightened by braces. We probably would have been interested in the same things: Barbies, helping mom cook, books. But unlike Jaycee, I got the chance to grow up on my own terms, the way children are supposed to. Jaycee lost her innocence at 11 years old. She will never get her past back, in this world. Neither will her two daughters.
I thought about Jaycee a lot this week. Many people across the country have followed her story, not believing such a horrific crime could take place in their own backyards. (Click here to read a story in today’s Sacramento Bee about Jaycee). The day after she reappeared, I stood in our bathroom brushing my teeth, thinking about her young face and what it might look like today. She is likely very pale. Her eyes do not hold the same joy of her youth. She has grown into her teeth, and her body has changed. She is a woman now, a mother. She cannot tell her daughter’s stories of her youth. She cannot offer them advice and wisdom. She cannot protect them. While she may have been found alive, she was not found safe. She has not been safe for 18 years.
I say that I believe in redemption, but her story challenges my faith. I want to believe that Jaycee’s story can be redeemed. I know Jesus conquered a cross that was painful and horrific. I know what happened to Him was undeserved and criminal. I know that out of His suffering came grace and redemption for us all. Can I believe the same for Jaycee? I pray first for her redemption, and I pray next for my own belief that it can truly happen.