I find myself sitting at my desk and asking myself, what am I doing? What am I trying to do? I decided to let my mind wander and type. So here it goes…
I remember the first time an ambulance came to my house for my Mother during one of her mental breakdowns. What I remember the most is the noise: the sound of the sirens, coming closer and closer, towards my house. I remember my heart rate running faster and faster. As soon as the paramedics and cops walked up the stairs, I ran out of the house. I am not sure where I was running, but I ran. I was 13 years old. This is my first runaway story, but don’t worry; I came back home a few hours later.
Over the years, I became a master of running away. I ran from things I feared, and I ran to my secret place. I would run away for a day, or sometimes for a few months. It all depended on the situation and the condition of my heart. My secret place allowed me to put my walls down. I could rest. I could cry. I could take my time and utter, “I am tired.” And now, I think I finally can put into words what that secret place is for me– it is what I would call a place of grace, where I am comforted with hope and I know I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders. For me, that place is where God meets me. And most of the time, I don’t even know He is there. He doesn’t say, “I told you so” or “not again”. He just meets me where I am.
A few weeks ago, the We Are Becoming staff were out having lunch. A young man came into the restaurant, and we observed him walking up to each table and saying something. When he finally came over to ours he asked, “Could someone buy me some food? I am really hungry.” Before any of us could answer, one of the restaurant staff member whisked the boy away and said, “come with me, I will get you something.” My colleague, who was sitting across from me, facing the door, said, “Stella, I think they are kicking him out.” I got up and walked out the door, looking for him. A few minutes later I found him at the corner of the block in front of another eatery. I went up to him and told him I would get him some food. When I asked him what he wanted, he said, “Oh, I just really, really want some chicken and rice.” After getting him his food, I joined my group to finish my meal. To my surprise, he came up to us 5 minutes later already having finished his meal (as he said, he was VERY hungry) to thank us. But more than thanking us for the food, he kept repeating in awe, “I can’t believe you came out looking for me! You came out looking for me! For me! To buy me food! Thank you, thank you for coming out. And thank you for the food” (It took me a second but I was reminded of how Jesus came, looking for me, the lost sheep).
I think I know what I am doing. I think I know what I want to do.
These young people we want to help, they are not fragile and weak. They are actually too strong and too tough for their own good because showing any signs of vulnerability or weakness is a luxury they can’t afford. They are child-adults who never had a chance to be a child. We Are Becoming will be a place where it is about more than just a roof over their heads, food on the table, and successful outcomes. We will be that place of grace, where they can come and put their burdens down and we will meet them where they are. It will be a place where they can run away from things that hurt them. It will be a place where they know they were not forgotten or abandoned, but instead that they were sought after. I’m not sure how we will be able to measure grace and hope but I think it will exceed our expectation. Imagine all the dreams, passion and potential that can grow in a place of grace and hope, and who these young people will become.
If you are ever by our Hope Room in NYC, and you need a place of grace and hope to just sit and stay for a while, please stop by and have a cup of coffee on us. Because whether you are a homeless young person, a stay at home mom, an entrepreneur… we all need a place of grace. I know I do.
To each one of our friends and supporters reading this, WE ARE in this together. We Are Becoming.