It was an exceptionally cold December from what I remember. I would meet with the family outside at a park, by their choice, week after week.
I was cold. But it didn't matter. They were the ones who would be cold if they didn't find somewhere to go soon. All the homeless shelters for families were full this time of year. They had to leave where they were staying. They had exhausted all their options.
I had many families like this, but this one stood out to me. A mother. A father. And a baby. All together, one unit. Trying to make it work. Didn't want to be separated.
I can't even remember the names of the parents. I'm usually so good at names. I remember their faces, all three. And, of course, I remember their baby's name like it was yesterday. I never forget a baby.
All I had was a listening ear. Some words to share, resources mainly, from the little I could pull together with places who might take them at this time of year. I had to do something. Words of encouragement here or there seemed far too trite up against what they were facing.
I'm not a social worker, but sometimes my job becomes one, especially during this stint of time when the people who wanted a counselor were homeless. Everything else was trumped by the fact that they had no where to go.
I prayed for them that the little time I spent with them was somewhat meaningful...
Because one day, I never heard back.
Which is what happens sometimes.
You send letters.
But what do you do when there's no permanent address and the phone is shut off and you can't even locate the people you are trying to serve?
All that was left at the end of it all was the fact that I could pray.
That they got out of cold.
That they stayed resistant.
That they held onto hope.
You know how I knew they had hope? Other than the fact that they never let discouragement and disappointment after disappointment get the best of them?
They showed up, whenever they could. As a family.
Every single time their baby smiled and laughed. I know it might not mean much to you or me, but that baby was fed, loved, cared for and knew it. They would go hungry before their baby did.
The parents told me 'thank you' every time. Even when inside they were fighting misery.
I can count on one hand the number of people who have told me thank you over the years.
The one thing I am most thankful for in my recent work-life has been learning that God lives and puts Himself amongst humanity. I used to think humanity was humanity.
Broken and hungry and fighting through are we, yes, but also significant and with faces and with laughter and hope.
*sharing 31 days of spreading joy and reminded that joy often comes in unexpected ways. check out what amy and other inspiring bloggers are up to this month!