Tonight is a sad night for me. It’s my last shift at Crossroads Safehouse. A place where I’ve witnessed some of the most hearbreaking things imaginable, and a place where I’ve learned to love & believe in humanity.
For those of you that don’t know, I started working here at the women’s shelter back in September, 2011. I was hired on as a part-time relief staff. As a “newbie”, I didn’t know one thing about domestic violance. I just knew: it happened. What I didn’t realized was: just how OFTEN it happened!!! Story after story, I am amazed at just how many women I meet (i.e. work, school, friends) that are experiencing domestic violence!! Sadly, not enough people realize this. I started doing intakes and having one on one’s with women on a daily (and nightly) basis and was blown away with stories about these experiences. One’s I’ve only ever heard and seen on television and/or horror movies. How on earth could I have been so ignorant?? My heart began to stir…. how could it be this bad, Lord?
I was in for the zip-line of my life… putting my helmet on and tightening my harnace, I was ready to jump & let God have me. As scared as it seemed, I knew I had a purpose here.
As you can see, I was clueless about everything. By that I mean: why a woman would be with such a monstrous man to begin with? Why she stayed for so long? How could she keep her children in such a tormenting environment? And the question that boggles most people that have never dealt with domestic violence…, WHY ON EARTH would SHE EVER consider GOING BACK???
:::I was what most people like to call: Judgemental. :::
This April, I turn 26. My sole passion in life has always been for humanity; in social work, we call it self-actualization. The ability for man to reach his/her full-potential in this (earthly) life. As a follower of Christ, the desire for man to experience life to it’s fullness (oneness with Christ and all the heavenly benefits), I make it a priority to recognize God’s work in every person’s life. This means being able to connect with women the way Christ would- in love, in grace, and with the utmost respect; seeing each person as God does.
When I first started almost two years ago, I didn’t really understand what I was doing here-given that I had never dealt with domestic violence on a personal level. I grew up in an extremely happy home; we didn’t have a lot, but back than… we didn’t know that. My mom (having superhuman powers) gave us everything we needed to have a satisfying childhood; carefree and blissfully, we lived life as best we could. As undeserving as my brother and I were, God took care of us, one mama miracle@ a time.
Being here at the shelter on a weekly basis has done more than just humble me. I’ve learned that I can’t truly “help” anyone. The only thing I can do is be available. Women that come in and out of this place aren’t looking for someone to tell them how to better their lives or seek to be miraculously changed by our advocacy. No, they just need a smile, someone that will just listen, someone that isn’t afraid of them or thier situation. After all, at the end of the day: these are real people we’re dealing with; women are some of the easiest people to work when you’ve learned that we’re all built the same. We like to be complimented, to recieve special attention and be to listened to when all of Hell let’s loose. We often don’t want someone to try and figure us out or try to “fix” us. We just one someone & anyone to love on us when life sucks, whatever that looks like for each woman.
Tonight I found out one of my favorite residents moves out in the morning. She only speaks spanish. I was sad, but happy to know that she was able to get into an apartment with her two younger boys. God knows she was praying for a miracle since day#1. She confessed she didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m. today because she couldn’t believe that she was accepted for housing; she was so excited.
Knocking on her door tonight, my heart sank as I watched her fold her clothes and bag her things. Both boy’s sleeping with arms & legs stretched out from underneath their fleece blankets. I explained that I was here all night in case she needed anything and that she didn’t have to worry about cleaning and that we do that regardless (best part of my job- NOT!, LOL). As I stood leaning on her bed, she reached over and told me she had something for me. Being a little taken back, I wondered what on earth she was referring to? She reached into her closet and pulled out a medium-sized black purse with gorgeous zebra print. It was perfect (and i’m sooo picky with purses, too!!) She thanked me for how I’ve helped her. I literally didn’t know what to say to her? I stood amazed… after all, it was technially “my job” to help her, right? Yet, I knew it was God confirming in my heart that he was pleased with me. It was as if daddy was giving me a piece of chocolate, just because. I gave her a hug and thanked her. I knew I would never forget this moment.
Being here tonight, I think about the million’s of crises calls, interactions (good and bad), DRAMA (we are women, after all, haha), and beautiful faces that I’ve had the opportunity to come across. I am overwhelmed by God’s graciousness in my life. The endless memories of His goodness will never leave my heart; praying for specific things for these women & seeing Him work… and learning to trust Him and His ability to be victorious when I don’t always understand.
I am blessed today. Blessed to be called a child of the LIVING GOD, and to know that He is not finished with me, or with each woman that comes through our door. He is active and WILLING… and more than capable to continue to work as long as I make myself available to Him.
1:51 a.m. It’s quiet. The women have all gone to sleep & I’m still waiting for a couple to check in. Meanwhile, I stay up sipping on my tea & wondering how on earth I will adjust to not being here anymore. It’s not that God needs me here to accomplish His purpose in each woman’s life. I know that…, however, I can’t help but to feel so protective & jealous for thier lives, that they grow in thier knowledge that they are strong, beautiful and capable of doing anything; no man can take away thier confidence once it is retained. My strongest prayer is that they are able to discover how loved they are, and that they would tap into a greater power outside the walls of our advocacy offices.
::May God be blessed and glorified::
Forever & ever.
1:59 a.m. & nessa is heading to bed, BLESSED.