Our kids are cute. They say funny things. They are blunt. They are loving and they are kind. They are so easy to love. But it is our adult children that have taught me what real love is.
Just over six years ago I walked through Hope Street’s doors for the first time. I didn’t want to be here. I was scared of the neighborhood, what happened inside this building and simply the people. In my mind it was a building full of people who had made terrible choices and quite frankly probably deserved the life circumstances they found themselves in. Harsh, I know, but as a 22 year old I was convinced love was a transactional thing, that you had to earn it and then maintain it.
I can recall countless conversations of heartache and pain over members being seen as less than because they should “get it” by now. They know they “need to” get it together and yet, here they are still down, and still learning how to make better choices. Cassandra (sunshine) was one of those members. She is the woman who gave me a reason to show up to Hope Street week after week as a volunteer, and eventually day after day as a staff member. She cussed me out, she grumbled, she cried, she would allow herself to be hugged and in the midst of all that she simply was present. God gave me the grace to see the little girl inside of her that desperately wanted to be safe, protected and given the opportunity to grow and be different. While others may have seen an old, worn out, woman who wore the same coat and scarf EVERY day. I saw a beautiful child who longed to be seen as valuable. And she was valuable and incredible gift to me.
Father, I am so thankful for the countless men and women, your sons and daughters (children) who have taught me that love shouldn’t be conditional. It shouldn’t be given or received based off of our ability to have our stuff together. It should transcend our poor choices, difficult conversations and terrible attitudes. I wouldn’t understand today how deeply loved I am by you, if it weren’t for your beloved adult children. May we see each man and woman as your child?