I'm struggling today friends.
My heart feels overwhelmingly heavy.
I feel ready to crumple into a sobbing heap at any moment.
I am trying to figure out exactly why.
I am still more than a week away from "that time of the month," so maybe I have an extra surge of hormones right now. I have been staying up late and waking up with sun, so I could just need to fall into bed and not get up for a week. I am missing friendship, someone to share a coffee with, invite for a play date, so I could just be incredibly lonely.
But when I actually try to say things out loud, explain verbally what I am feeling, it just comes out:
I am broken hearted.
For multiple reasons. My sister, who is 26 weeks pregnant, has been in the hospital for five days. She's alone. She has her fiancé there, but he is floundering trying to figure out how to meet her overly emotional and hormonal needs. She is having severe anemia, and her Crohn's disease is out of control, despite best efforts from all the specialists that have seen her. Now they are starting to discuss the possibility of taking the baby early. As in earlier than 35 weeks.
I am so skeptical when it comes to doctor's...I'm that person that has to do hours of my own research before I believe anything they say. Not to say that I'm not thankful for them or that I do not respect their expertise. I'm just wary of modern medicine. What can I say? My sister, she is not. If they told her to balance on a tight rope and juggle water balloons, I think she just may do it. So of course I am nervous that she is there alone, trusting these doctors blindly with her and her baby's well being. But sheesh, she is a grown woman for goodness sake. Why oh why do I feel so protective, so frustrated that I cannot help? She is struggling with so much emotionally and physically, it would bring the strongest person to their knees. And as much as I want to swoop in and take this all from her, I know that her knees is exactly where she needs to be. I want to see her melt into Jesus' arms, to feel His goodness and love washing over her. Pray for her heart, for her soul. Pray with me for my sister, friends.
I am also overwhelmed looking around at the pain, the corruption, the sin. I cannot fathom the things that are cheered on and exploited. There is so much sadness and grief, but the things that we celebrate are just baffling. Life is not embraced, but drowned. Smothered. Oh the joy that is stifled by greed, selfishness. And how easy it is for us to look the other way, to convince ourselves that we cannot help, we are but one tiny piece. Why is it so easy to squeeze our eyes shut tight and deny the truth even when we are all but tripping over it?
I've been preparing to start my seven experiment in August. And with that in the back of my mind, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore the abounding excess I am surrounded with. So my piles are growing. I had a box of women's clothes and shoes, purses and jackets (really, I only need one purse and how many flats and flip flops can I possibly wear??). Kenny kept urging me to take them to goodwill, but I kept feeling a tug to wait for a particular person. So they sat in my entryway for a few weeks. Finally, yesterday, I just couldn't handle it anymore. I threw the piles and boxes in my car and headed to goodwill. After all, what was I expecting, some half-naked women to come knocking on my door asking if I had any extra clothes? Sheesh.
So on our way, I was sitting at a red light and saw a police vehicle with it's lights on parked at a 7-11 that is always busy with beggars and drifters. I nosily gawked, trying to see what was going on, but incredibly I could not see any cops or any unusual activity. I did however, see a frail woman and a man sitting on the curb. The clothes are hers.
I don't know...I thought to myself...she seems a little, well, scary. There's a cop there, what's she gonna do?! Exactly, there's a cop there, I can't take my kids into a scene that could be dangerous.
That was my back and forth arguing with myself. So I drove by and continued on my way. And then, I just didn't. I changed lanes quickly and did a u-turn. When I drove back by, only moments later, the cop was gone, but the couple was still sitting there. The man was staring off into space. The woman was smoking. I used to always say that maybe if homeless people stopping smoking through packs of cigarettes, they'd have some more money for food and water, or a pair of shoes. But I have learned that most of the time, they are picking up used butts on the ground or right out of ash trays. They bum a light off of someone and there ya go. Now I could of course, step up on my soapbox right about now and talk about how unwise and irresponsible smoking is, the health dangers, etc. But really, God has not called me to judge, to point out everyone's wrongs. He's called me to love. To love people like crazy.
So anyway, I pulled up a few yards away from the couple and grabbed the bag of clothes, shoes, jackets and purses. It was more than this couple could carry, I knew that. Street people often have to carry all of their things with them and therefore have to be selective about what they take. There is little safe, public storage available, although some places do offer lockers for a period of time.
I walked up to the couple and said hello and introduced myself. I offered the clothes and the woman exclaimed that she couldn't believe I was bringing clothes. She said she needed some new clothes and shoes and was trying to save up some money to buy some from Goodwill. The closest goodwill to this place was at least four or five miles away. She looked through the bag and admitted it was more than she could carry. I asked if she knew anyone she could pass it on to. She looked at me and said really? Her eyes were big, and sad. I nodded and she hollered at a woman named Lydia to come and see. Before Lydia came over, this woman, her name was Sue, stopped looking at the clothes and looked at me. She asked me why I was doing this. I told her I was on my way to drop them off when I saw her and thought maybe she could use them. She laughed an embarrassed laugh and said, It's that bad? I look that bad that I need clothes? I smiled at her and said we all are desperately in need of something. I told her I was glad I saw her, I'd rather give them to her than to a store to sell. She just kept staring at me. She repeated over and over I just can't believe this. And then she said, why are you so brave? Why are you not scared to come up to us? We look like a mess!
I told her that I wasn't scared and knew that I was supposed to give these things to her. She thanked me and so did the man. I wished them well and told them I hoped I'd see them again soon. Her friend Lydia thanked me also.
As I drove away I thought about her questions. Why? What should I say when people in need ask why I am helping? I wished I had hugged her. I had felt the urge (creepy, huh?) but my fear had stopped me. Then I thought of how she said I was brave. I didn't feel brave. I did feel scared at first. Usually I don't, but the man that was with her was most definitely not mentally "all there." I'm not sure if he struggled with a mental condition or if he was just high as a kite (probably the latter :( ) but it did make me nervous. And then I thought of how when I turned around I found myself singing that 90's worship song "I will trust in you and I will not be afraid!"
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of peace. He has not called us to decide if someone looks worthy of our help, but has just called us to love and help those in need. It doesn't matter how they got there or how long they've been there. They are in a difficult place in their life, and the details don't matter to us. God has put us here to care for these people. His people. The least, the poor, the marginalized. Widows, orphans, vagabonds. God loves them all so much and that's good enough for me. I am so thankful that I heeded God's tug yesterday, that I didn't accept the fear creeping into my heart. That I trusted in His hedge of protection. And I found that woman that I was saving those clothes for. Two women actually. And you know what I realized after I drove away? I had put a Bible in that bag in the very beginning and forgotten to take it out. I hope they find love and peace. I hope they see God's grace and light.