Yesterday I sat in a circle with a group of women for whom a safe place to be is not always a given. Some had worked and found a place with a roof, and some were still on the streets. One was quite possibly one step away.
We gathered to share and talk in a safe place. We borrowed our name from our sisters in Ghana at ABAN–our Sister Circle. It seemed to resonate with them, that we are sisters though we come from many different walks of life. We sat and talked about what community means to each of us. It boiled down to love, respect, having the other person’s back, trust, safety, and listening. It’s all about acting on that love.
I was humbled to sit with them and hear their stories, stories freely shared. The pain and sheer brokenness in some of the stories moved me to tears. We sat there together as sisters who have things in common, but I couldn’t help but think about the differences later, after we said our goodbyes.
I might wonder about the “what” of my next meal, but I never have to worry about the “where” or if.
When I lay my head down at night, I don’t have to keep one eye open, constantly alert for any threat or harm headed my way.
At the end of the day, when I shower I am washing off what miniscule dust and dirt I might have accumulated during my basically clinically clean day, not the real filth and residue of pain from the brokenness that threatens to engulf me.
A long time ago, I walked away from an abusive relationship, and I had a safe place to go. I was not chased and attacked with no place to hide or relax or live.
I figure when all is said and done, I’ve had a really easy life compared to many of these women.
But here’s the thing. Despite all these women have been through, and I don’t know all of it, each one of them has such tremendous faith. They talk about how God has always been with them. About the Comforter, the one who never leaves them behind. God is the one Constant that has been with them through all of their stories.
And what amazed me the most?
They, not a single one of them, are not angry with God.
Oh there’s anger and frustration with the system–the system that seemingly works to keep them from getting the real help they need. The red tape and bureaucracy that seems to separate the haves and the have nots. There’s anger at “so-called friends,” the ones who were nowhere to be found when real trouble hit. There’s anger with themselves even, that they didn’t do this or that they once made this choice. But anger with God? I never heard even a hint of it.
I have not walked their journey. I cannot even imagine what a day in any one of their lives is like. But I know this: my faith is only a drop in the bucket compared to theirs. How they continue to carry on, to have hope, and to have faith–it defies logic.
Much like faith itself.
This thought came to my mind just a few minutes ago–you need faith to have faith. In other words you have to have faith to step out on a limb and say you believe and that you know God has got you in the midst of all of this.
Y’all I was humbled and inspired and challenged by this group of strong and beautiful women. They have seen humanity at its very worst and still believe. Laugh. Live their lives. I did not hear a one of them ask anything like, “Why me?” or say “It’s not fair.” I found it interesting because that is something I hear quite often in the general population (or in….say…..my head?).
Today I talked with friends about how once upon a time, I thanked God when we would hit nearly all green lights on the way to take my oldest to school. Then it occurred to me that if I continued to do that, I might get frustrated with God when I hit red lights. Which I did. But once I let go of thinking God was a traffic controller, I quit feeling persecuted by him when they were all red lights. You just get what you get and don’t pitch a fit. (quoting my brother there) And that’s what these women are doing. They are making a go of it, but they aren’t sitting around saying the things like, Why me? or It’s not fair. It doesn’t even enter into their minds I guess.
But boy did this hit home with me. I’ve had so much anger and frustration and asking “why” since Mama and Daddy both died in the past twenty months. I don’t get it. And I’m pretty sure that’s okay. But I do know this, that God is with me, maybe even more so in the lousy points of my journey. And tonight I am thankful for the reminder from my beautiful sisters about the face of community–love and respect–and for sharing their visions of God with me. I look forward to walking this path with them. It is an honor.