Your life really can change in a split second! I know this all too well. On May 7, 1992, I celebrated one of the greatest milestones in my life. I graduated from Howard University. I had aspirations of attending law school. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine years old and in the 3rd grade. I was well on my way, or so I thought.
Before I tell you what happened to me, let me tell you a little bit about me. You see, at that time in my life, I was living in two worlds. These worlds were contradictory in huge ways, but I couldn’t see it at the time. One world was filled with promise and success. The other world was filled with fast cars, fast money and a definite path to destruction. Now, before you judge me, this is a reality that many people, particularly those that live in urban cities across the nation face regularly. So much so, most become accustomed to and numb from all of the destruction around them. It becomes the norm. But, there are always a few people in the neighborhood with discernment and the “eyes to see” who is on the path to promise and success, who is on the road to destruction and who is straddling both worlds. Unfortunately, those who straddle the fence are in worse shape because the result of their choices can end up being very, very tragic. We have all heard stories about individuals with so much potential and promise ending up dead or in jail with lengthy prison sentences because of poor choices. Well, that was almost my lot in life! My grandmother would always tell me that, “Trouble is easy to get into but hard to get out of.” She told me that I wasn’t like some of the people I insisted on hanging around. But, I didn’t listen!!! She told me when she realized that I was hellbent on doing life my way, “Experience is the best teacher.” She was absolutely correct. On June 7, 1992, exactly 29 days after graduating from college, my life changed in a split second. I was heading to a pool party that night and decided to ride through the neighborhood to see who was hanging out on the corner. I was actually looking for one guy in particular. We liked each other since we were kids and decided to act on our lust. There wasn’t any love involved, and we certainly were not in a committed relationship. It was straight sex. So, my ride through the neighborhood was actually a “booty call.” Hello, are you still with me?! Okay, take a deep breath. There won’t be any further references to sex, but it is important for you to understand fully where I was in my thought process at that time in my life. As I stated when I started, I was living in 2 different worlds.
When I pulled up to the corner, there he was, and he hopped into the car, as he had done on many other occasions. We sat there talking, but this conversation was a whole lot different than any of our other conversations. He kept telling me he was tired. His eyes were bloodshot red as if he had either been crying or was in need of lots of sleep. I chose the latter explanation to dwell on. I told him he just needed to get some rest. His next response was a sign of monumental proportion. He said, “You don’t understand. I am tired.” Well, as the night and days ahead would unfold, I would come to realize that his statement to me was a cry of his soul and not just his flesh. He started talking about changing his life, and me being me, I listened and offered many suggestions and recommendations. We were riding around the block having this conversation. Now, when I picked him up from the corner, there were many, many people standing out there. The police pulled up a few minutes after I did. When we got back around the block to the corner, it was totally cleared out. Now, in the words of my Mom, “Nicole, you should have known that was not a good sign.” In hindsight, the reality was I wasn’t as “street smart” as I thought I was. I parked the car, and my friend got out of the car. It felt like a western when a dual was planned. It was eerily silent, but I was none the wiser. As he got out of the car, someone in the cloak of darkness called out his name and asked him a question. His response to the question was, “Hell no!”
He went into a house, and I sat in the car waiting for him to return. As I sat there waiting for him to return to the car, “something told me” to leave, to pull off right then. I’ve come to know now that the voice I heard was the voice of the Lord. I wasn’t connected to the Lord then, so I didn’t know that it would be in my best interest to listen and obey. I allowed my flesh to override the “still, small voice” inside of me that kept speaking with a sense of urgency. I didn’t obey!! This would be a very hard pill to swallow in the days ahead.
My friend was in the house for just a few minutes. When he came back to the car, I told him I needed to leave. Again, his response was unusual. He wanted me to stay and talk with him for a while longer. I dismissed the urgency to leave and proceeded to keep talking to him. He reclined the seat, and the conversation ensued. Not too long later, I could see another guy we grew up with walking on the sidewalk near my car. When I mentioned the guy’s name to my friend, he jumped up and things appeared to go in fast and slow motion, all at the same time. It was at that very moment that I saw the barrel of a gun pointing at my right rear passenger window and then the shots began ringing out in rapid succession. I covered my head and started hollering JEEESSSUUSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know angels are real because I don’t remember opening my car door. I felt as if I blacked out, but I could literally feel a force picking me up and pushing me down the street. When I “came to myself,” I was running for my life. I could still hear shots being fired behind me. I ran for about 1 ½ blocks, and I just couldn’t run any further. I was panting for air. My legs were weak. In my mind I thought I had been shot, so my body began to respond to my thoughts.
Although it felt like a “ghost town,” there were two people standing on a porch, a man and a woman. The woman reminded me of the lady in the Pine Sol commercials. The man was short with a round face and a perfect bush. As I approached them, I started screaming, “Am I shot?” “Am I shot?” Then, I told them, “They shot him!” “They shot him!” They never asked me any questions. They didn’t ask me if anyone was chasing me. Nor did they seem concerned about anyone chasing me. They told me to come inside and lay down on the floor. The man called 911 to report the shooting. They told him that someone else had already reported it. I remember seeing a lot of white in the room. There were white lacey curtains and white doilies on the floor. The woman was very gentle with me, and she just kept telling me that everything was going to be okay.
I called my older sister, who lived around the corner from where the shooting occurred. In fact, I was trying to run to her house, but my body would not let me. I called her to pick me up so I could go back to the scene to let the police know that I was the owner of the car. I gave her the address. Wasting no time she picked me up and took me back to the scene of the crime. When we turned on the block where my car was parked, it was sheer pandemonium!!! It looked like everybody in the entire neighborhood had descended on that one block. I jumped out of the car and told the first police officer I could find that I was the owner of the vehicle where the shooting had occurred. The car door to my car was still open with the key still in the ignition. The officer proceeded to put me in the police car right next to my car with the opened door. I looked over, and there was my friend slumped over in the driver’s seat. He was riddled with bullets, and so was the driver’s seat of my car where I was just sitting. I totally lost it!!!! My mind just couldn’t seem to wrap around all that had transpired in that short window of time.
The detectives whisked me off to the police station and questioned me until the breaking of dawn. In less than 30 days after I graduated from college, I found myself in a world of trouble as a witness in a murder case!!! WOW!!!! The guy that I mentioned to my friend that night was apprehended and charged with his murder. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison for what I considered to be a short amount of time for intentionally murdering someone.
It took me many years to put the pieces of my life back together. I was angry at the shooter and my friend. I learned after the fact that there was a gang feud going on in the neighborhood. I didn’t have a clue. Remember, I was living in 2 worlds. I was on a campus pursuing my degree, while some of the people in the neighborhood were on a path to destruction. I jumped on and off this path when I wanted to but didn’t have a clue of all that was going on nor did I understand the rules of that world.
My grandmother was right on all levels. “Trouble was easy to get into and hard to get out of.” “I was on a different path than those I wanted to hang around.” And most important of all, “Experience is the best teacher.” I eventually got on the path to promise and success and stayed on it. I went to law school. I passed the bar exam. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I answered the call of the Lord on my life and went into the ministry preaching whenever and wherever I am given an opportunity. I write, practice law, host an international internet radio show, serve on a national board of directors of an organization with a mission to end sex discrimination and to advance the professional careers of women and I help others through coaching and mentoring. God is great, and I am confident I was saved for a time such as this!
By the way, 2 weeks after the shooting my mother went back to the house where the 2 people let me in and helped me. She wanted to thank them for helping me on that fateful night. The person that answered the door said that no one ever lived there that fit the description of the 2 people that helped me that night. I know that angels are real. There were angels watching over me that night.
Psalm 43:2 rings true in my life, “When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”
Ten Life Lessons That I Would Like To Share With You
1. Listen to the people in your life that you know care about you. They are not your enemy.
2. There are some experiences that you don’t have to go through if you will just listen to those in your life who care about you.
3. Stay alert to the signs around you. The details are vitally important to your success.
4. Stay in your lane. You must know your environment and which environments will cause you to thrive and which ones you need to run away from.
5. Listen to the still, small voice on the inside of yourself. I am referring to your first thought, your intuition. It will never steer you the wrong way.
6. Keep your mind strong by feeding it positive thoughts, affirmations and stories. Everything in your life is a result of the way you think.
7. Think long and hard about every choice you make in your life. It can determine success or failure.
8. Forgive others and God will forgive you.
9. Accept the decisions you’ve made in the past. Do not allow them to hold you hostage. You did it, and it didn’t work out the way you thought it would. Release it and let it go!
10. Learn the lessons and apply them to your life.