Today I feel overwhelmed not only by the many needs, but by the distance that we must take people on the journey out of sin.
We have a new young woman that showed up at Joe’s yesterday afternoon. She was high and coming down. Must have been a bad trip, as she was screaming and flailing at things we couldn’t see. Her boyfriend was trying to calm her in the backyard at Joe’s, but holding her down was only making her paranoia worse.
I started asking questions. What is she on? How long has she been up? The boyfriend insisted that they don’t use drugs. Of course.
I assured them that they would not get in trouble, but I just needed to figure out if we should call the paramedics. Maybe she needed to get to a hospital. NO! He freaked out. She, too, began protesting. I knew if the paramedics came and she refused to go, they couldn’t take her anyway. (Been there, done that before.)
So it became evident that she was ours to care for. Diana, who God has delivered from drugs, began helping me to calm her down. After maybe 20 minutes of speaking gently to her, assuring her that she was safe, she finally allowed us to touch her. We were able to get her to drink water and to take a little food. We took her inside.
Then I started asking around among the crowd that hangs out at Joe’s. Word is that she came the evening before. She and her boyfriend just got here from Kansas, gonna start a new life together. Homeless. Nothing but the clothes on their backs. She is schizophrenic and has not been on her meds for a long time. (Hmm. Not a good mix with drugs.)
Next I found out that our homeless community took them in that night, let them come and stay with them in the small tent city in the trees. They wanted them to be safe and to feel welcome. Wow. I was so pleased. How wonderful. They are growing. They’re acting like Jesus would have them to, being kind to the strangers, to the new-comers.
THEN . . . the next piece of information that got back to me on the community grapevine was: THEY ALL TOOK TURNS SLEEPING WITH HER THAT NIGHT!!!
Ugh. No, that word does not even suffice. Maybe it should look more like @#$%^&*!!!!!
I went straight to one of the young men from the tent city and asked him about it. His response was very matter of fact, “Well, she was okay with it. She even wanted it. She’s been bragging about how many guys she slept with in one night.”
Sometimes I wonder, “How did I get here?” No, every day, I wonder that!
We have soooo far to go. But then I remember that God is patient with us. That Love is patient.
And so with a deep sigh, once again, we sat down to talk about Love. I started by saying, “When Jesus talked about us loving one another, this is not the kind of “loving” he had in mind.”
We talked about what Love looks like in relation to this new girl. How Love is not “self-seeking.” How it “always protects,” rather than uses. How she is their younger sister. He tilted his head looking a little confused, and then said, “Okay. I’ll talk to the other guys.”
Yes, there’s a long way to go. And sometimes the journey looks like one step forward and then one backward—okay maybe two or three backward. But on we will go because Love also “perseveres.”