I walked up the stairs this Wednesday afternoon at the shelter slower than normal. Maybe it was the heart burden of weekend shelter-happenings, maybe it was the four hours straight of one-on-ones this morning (poor planning), maybe it was the weather, maybe it was something I ate earlier…
When I got to the top of the stairs, I turn right for the office. Hoping I can sit down to eat.
I make it three steps to the kitchen table.
Do I look that tired? I hope not. I hope it is just the sack lunch in my hand that allows for the hesitancy. “Yeah?” I answer looking at the three guests at the kitchen table.
“The gal in purple seems to be having problems in the bathroom…”
Hmm…”What sort of problems?”
“I think she’s yelling, then crying, then laughing, then talking…but she’s in the bathroom, alone. We thought you may want to check on her.”
In my heart I chuckle. “…may want to check on her…” They are being respectful and kind, but I am hoping they know I will not just continue on my way. I smile and set my stuff down and go to check on her.
My steps are heavy. As I recall the faces of many other people I have known that those same words have described…”talking to herself…talking to the mirror…laughing at nothing…”
I think my steps are weighted because my heart is heavy. My heart breaks a bit more as I near the bathroom. Thinking of what the future may hold for this precious woman. Thinking of what pain she may be experiencing. Thinking of what sort of relationships she has and has had. Thinking of Jesus.
Before I get to the bathroom, Jesus reminds me with a gentle whisper, You prayed, ‘Break my heart for what breaks Yours’ I still, knowing its true. Knowing He is right and He is offering me a gift here. Will I receive it? Will I allow my heart to be broken? Broken for this beloved woman? These women that He so loves and longs for?
I thank Him for the gift. Receive the gift.
After talking and listening through the bathroom door with this woman I walk silently away.
Praying, Lord Jesus, this woman, she needs You. She does not need me. She does not need staff. She needs You. She needs to hear Your voice. Jesus, open her eyes, open her heart-eyes, to see You. To hear from You. I lift her up to You. Please Lord God, draw her close to You. How can we, at the shelter, love her?
As I enter my office and set my lunch down and wait to hear from Him, a bunch of possibilities enter my mind. Get an appointment with the LMHP (Licensed Mental Health Professional). Talk with her case manager. Look at her application again. Check to see if she has a psychiatrist, if she is on medication. But I get this nagging feeling that although those are good things, and that we should definitely do them, they are not the thing. I get the nudge of a silent question: What is your hope for each woman at the shelter?
Well, Lord, I hope each encounter You. I hope each woman comes to a saving relationship with You. Yes. That is it. I want to pray Jesus, that this woman learns to hear Your voice above any other voice.
Jesus, teach us at the shelter, how to help someone know You, how to hear Your voice in the midst of the competing voices–friends, family, cravings, addictions, unseen and unknown voices. You are the Good Shepherd, Your sheep know Your voice. Thank You Jesus. Amen.
(All views expressed in this blog are solely those of myself, Bridget. I do not speak for my family, my workplace, my church, my denomination, or for God. Names and identifying features of people in the stories of this blog have been changed to protect their privacy and confidentiality.)