Comparing 2020 to the plagues in Egypt might be an exaggeration, but it has certainly been one of the more difficult years in my lifetime: global pandemic + racial tension + political unrest + protests + fires + smoke = Stress with a capital S.
I’ve been thinking, however, how much more stressful those factors become for people experiencing homelessness. What do you do when you’re told to stay home but you don’t have a home? What do you do when the air is unfit to breathe, but you can’t get away from it? What do you do when there are protests in the streets and you live on the streets?
And that line of thinking inevitably leads me to gratitude. I look around at the clean, safe spaces you have provided for men, women and children in our region to get off the streets and have a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, to be greeted by a friendly face and hear an encouraging word, and I am grateful.
I also recognize that while 2020 has been challenging in many ways, the people who come through our doors have suffered a deeper pain. When I sit down to listen to our residents, I hear story after story of abuse and neglect, harm inflicted by the very people meant to nurture and love.
Childhood neglect and abuse shape a person. An identity is formed around lies and shame: You are a mistake. You are worthless. No one loves you.
Unfortunately, the stories in this newsletter are not exceptional. They are the norm for our residents. Suffering like what is described on these pages is hard to comprehend and even harder to recover from. And yet, the miracle in which we are privileged to participate is the genuine healing and restoration of a life from the inside out.
People are healed when they meet the God who made them, loves them, forgives them and calls them by name. People are healed when they experience grace and truth over time: You are not a mistake. You are wonderfully and beautifully made for a purpose. And God loves you more than you can imagine.
When the weight and burden of shame is lifted, the natural response is gratitude, and genuine gratitude produces joy – a contentment and peace that surpasses understanding. Thank you for joining us in this work of lifting burdens and spreading joy!