NBC - A Bit More

Last week was such a whirlwind and so much happened that I'm still not sure I've processed through it all. In my previous post I mentioned that I stepped out of the way last week and by that I meant I just did what God wanted me to do. It wasn't about me - not one moment. There was no arguing, no holding back, no wishing I had done something differently.

There are a few stories that have stuck with me and I want to write them down here. Not because I think they'll provide any profound insight into anything but because I don't ever want to forget them.

On Monday, when we arrived at the shelter, we met D, L, C, A and A's mom A. I'll call mom Av just to keep them clear. Monday, NBC went as NBC should go - we did worship, we had Bible (and I had almost all of the supplies I needed for that), we went outside and played a couple of games, came in, they did their craft and had their snack then we sang another song or two and went home. Typical NBC. The only typical NBC day we had.

Tuesday we showed up to find that L & C had gone to their grandmother's house because mom needed a break for a couple of days (that brings up a few opinions which I won't share at this point in time). They would be back on Thursday. Neither D nor A had come down by about 9:45 and just when I thought we were going to give up and go home, A came downstairs and was ready to go (what a cutie that one is - you have no idea how much I wish I could share pictures!) When she showed up, I asked if D was in the house and sure enough - a few minutes later - down the boy trooped. Tuesday's craft was a bit of a doozy, too, so we worshipped for a few minutes, had Bible then craft and snack. We never did get to games because we ran out of time. It turned out to be a blessing because we didn't have enough kids to form teams, anyhow, so we just skipped games for the rest of the week.

Wednesday was the hardest day of all of them. I wanted to cry Wednesday and every day since. It's been almost a week and I still want to cry. Wednesday was the morning we arrived at the shelter to find out that D, his mother and brother had had to move out the night before because mom didn't want to __________. The blank is - we have no idea. A rule she didn't want to follow, a form she didn't want to fill out, a class she didn't want to take... no one knows. All we know is she had a very long conversation with her case manager on Tuesday and the result of that was she chose to take her boys back out on the street.

I'm amazed no one heard my heart break on the east coast when I was given the news. It cracked and splintered into several dozen tiny pieces. The shock of the news - I went cold to my core. In two very short days, that boy (he is 10) had touched my heart in a place I didn't know existed. When I first met him, the thing I noticed - and you couldn't help noticing, either, if you met him - were the huge puffy bags under his eyes. That was Monday. By Tuesday they were the dark circles that scream "I haven't slept in DAYS." He looked so incredibly sad, so incredibly tired I don't have words. His face has haunted me since last Wednesday, I see him in my mind all the time. Even now as I write this, my eyes have welled up with tears because that little boy embodied all of the pain, all of the fear, all of the anguish that these children suffer because of what their parents force into their lives. Picture the sweetest face (and heart) you know and then picture that face drawn, quiet - exhausted beyond words and sad beyond recognition. Picture that heart struggling to stay sweet. You might come close to picturing D.

His heart is so raw. Every time he would see his mom walk by, he'd ask her where she was going. It didn't matter that he could tell she was going out back for a quick smoke or coming back inside from smoking - he wanted to make sure he could find her fast if he needed to. On Monday, one of the questions I had for the kids was if they could give me other names for Jesus. He raised his hand and said he'd heard the name "All" or "Ha" or "Alha" - couldn't remember exactly what it was. It was a bit of a heart-wrench to think he'd been taught to place Jesus and Allah in the same category. He left me speechless for a few seconds trying to figure out how to answer him. I did and we moved on but I wished he wanted to ask more. If I had known he would be gone, I would have left him with his own copy of the Bible that day...

Ah... that is all I can write for now. I am still grieving the loss (as dramatic as that sounds), praying God covers him and protects him, brings him to safety somewhere and reveals Himself to that little one. I pray, too, for his mother - she has her 10 year old and a 2 year old. My prayer for her is she would stop looking at life through that selfish lens of "what it owes me" or "I'm going to do whatever I want to do" and start seeing it through the eyes of a mother who wants what is best for her children. The hurt, the pain and unfortunately, most of these women are so self-absorbed they don't care about their children's needs except as it relates directly to keeping them from what they want...

Never in my life have I wanted to scream, yell, throw things like I did last Wednesday. I have felt inadequate, I have felt helpless, I have felt frustrated but never like I did knowing that in all likelihood the last time I will talk to D this side of heaven was last Tuesday. There is torment in serving the homeless - torment I never imagined or quite understood when I started down this road. It is, however, torment I would not trade for anything. It grows and stretches you in places you didn't know were stagnant. It is the most amazing thing I have ever done outside of raise my children. God does not want our love for Him to be quiet, cozy, picture-perfect. He wants us to dive in and love one another as He loves us - no matter how many times we kick Him in the teeth or spit in His face. My heart will heal, D will remain in my heart and prayers but he'll fade a bit from my mind but I will never, never allow myself to forget that it is despite the possibility of that loss, that hurt that I go into the shelter. They are usually the unlovable, the undesirables but are created in God's image, too. Loved by the Almighty who spoke us into existence. If that power, that fierce Spirit of love loves them then I can, too - because He loves them through me.

As long as I get out of the way...

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