Some nights in the Shelter I manage to hold it together.(My people hate it when I cry or get emotional in front of them.) Last night I got to a point where I really didn't manage my emotions well. This chick below took me over the edge, and both her and I ended up in tears.
Yvonne and I had a conversation last night that I will never forget. It was so profound and emotionally charged. It broke my heart and broke her whole being. She was leaving the Shelter to go to "work" and I stopped her to see how she was doing, the conversation that ensued was a defining moment for me.
I asked if she was going to work. She said yes and I told her "please be safe". I always say this to my girls as they leave to go to work. Most of the time they laugh and say something along the line of "OK Mum!", some times they say "I'm always safe.", sometimes they just look at me with sad eyes and sigh, "I wish I didn't have to go out tonight."
Last night Yvonne stopped on the stairs and looked me in the eyes (she never does this) and said "God whispered to me tonight as I was getting ready." I was taken aback by this comment as Yvonne is usually the laughy, eye-rolling, cheeky type. She has never really been serious with me and rarely instigates a meaningful conversation with me, so I knew that this was going to be a game-changing moment in our friendship. I asked her what God had told her.
"He told me that He is my daddy, that He loves me no matter what and that His heart is sore for me. He told me that He will take care of me, that His angels go to work with me and they fight off any bad stuff. I felt like He doesn't want me to go to work tonight. But I have to. If I don't I will have to sleep outside tonight, I will go hungry. So what do I do?"
I was standing there with a 22 year old sex worker asking me what should she do? So I said the only thing that I could think of which was "Maybe we should pray!" In my heart I know that listening to the voice of God is crucial. But how do I tell Yvonne that she needs to stay at the Shelter and not go to work when she is desperate for the money? As we stood there, me holding her tight, we prayed, as we prayed the tears came. Yvonne broke into a deep heart wrenching sob. I felt rocked to my core. Her pain seeped into me and I could feel the ache and longing in her heart to be loved and accepted and safe. Her desperation to be His child, her longing for a relationship with the only Father that she has ever known.
As I prayed over her I asked God to let her know His feelings for her.
I told her of how He delights in her. How He loves to spend time with her. As the peace started to flow she calmed.
I told her that through my life I have learned that if God talked to me its best that I listen, but that ultimately it was her decision. She had to decide if she would trust Him to provide for her and stay at the Shelter and not go and sell herself. I could literally see the internal fight that was carried out for the next 15 minutes. As she sat in the stair well, stood in the stair well, had a cigarette, sat back down again..... it was painful to watch. In the end she stood up, hugged me and said "I'm going to work now."
She didn't have the strength to trust what she knew, but that seed was planted. The pure fact that she knows that she heard the voice of God is amazing to me. She might not have had the strength this time but maybe next time she will.
Please pray for my girls. God loves them so much and He has a future and a hope for them, all that they need to do is claim it. In the mean time I will continue to love them and be there for them.
Like my Pastor in New York says ... "The need is the call."