Sunday, December 28, 2008

Asleep in the Light

What a day!

I'm house/dog-sitting for a friend in Liberty Lake. I'm also using his vehicle since it's 4-wheel drive and my car probably wouldn't have made it out here most days this week with all the snow. However, his vehicle has been giving me some grief and today was no different.

So, today was the 2nd Annual Blessings Under the Bridge Christmas Feast for the homeless and less fortunate of Spokane. I was hoping to get there between 9:00 and 10:00 am to help with set up but woke up to about 4 inches of snow that I had to shovel and clean off the car. Then I couldn't get the thing started - dead battery again. Was finally able to wave down a passing car to ask them for a jump start. I got on the road and was being careful to not rush. The roads haven't been great at all and although the freeway was mostly clear today, traffic slowed down to about 35 or 40 mph about 2 exits away from where I needed to go. So, I'm driving slow, keeping my distance from the car in front of me and I hit ice. I totally lost control of the SUV and fishtailed for what seemed like forever before spinning/skidding all the way around and finally coming to a stop facing on coming traffic in the fast lane. How I didn't hit anyone or anything, I don't know. It seemed like it all happened in slow motion and all I could say was "help me Jesus." After the next cluster of cars passed, I did a U-Turn and got back on the road, took my exit and got to the event about five minutes before 11:00. I was so shaken up and needed to get my mind focused on something else so I snagged a spot in the food line and got ready to serve.

What an absolutely incredible experience that was. I have no idea how many people we served today, but after a few hours dishing out pancakes, a friend got someone to relieve me of my position and we grabbed a plate of food and a cup of hot cocoa and sat down and started talking to people. The stories I heard today nearly brought me to tears. I found myself many times throughout the day struggling to maintain my composure. A woman who only a few short years ago was living right there under the freeway, a meth addict and prostitute had come to the end of her rope and prayed that God would either kill her or save her. She has been clean and sober for a few years and has totally turned her life around. A young man was standing by a heater with the most beautiful eyes told of leaving his family of "druggies" in Las Vegas and moving to Spokane, living at a men's shelter and looking for work. An older gentleman spoke of being divorced for the last eight after 21 years of marriage. He said he has grown children in California and a very well off sister living in Liberty Lake who don't even know he's homeless. He had to have his toes amputated due to his diabetes, then lost his job and got evicted from his apartment when he couldn't pay rent so now he's staying at the Union Gospel Mission looking for work and a place to stay. I walked up to an old trucker who was standing back from the crowd while he smoked a cigarette and drank a cup of coffee and just observed. At first he backed away from me when I walked up but after a minute or two, you just couldn't get him to stop talking. He had stories of his life as a trucker, his fiance at the time, owning his own truck and having a successful career. There were men who talked about Vietnam and prison; a young couple who kept going back to the clothing handout tables to get more socks and coats and stuffed animals for their baby; an older gentleman who this particular ministry was able to help get cleaned up - he was clean shaven, living in an apartment, helping spread the message of hope for almost a year when he found himself homeless again. It's amazing the shame some of these people live with... and the pride that some of the others still hang on to. It's also amazing - the strength and determination they possess - their will to survive.

I can't even begin to articulate how many thoughts and emotions welled up inside me today. I don't know what to do with them. I was so blessed to find quite a few friends and coworkers who donated items - blankets, winter gear, toiletries, etc. And I was completely overwhelmed to see most of the people in my small church show up to serve or just to "listen and love." There is something about finding a person, or group who have a passion and genuine love for other people. It's refreshing to see people from all walks of life unified for a cause. I don't understand how so many people can be so... detached. It's not because they aren't caring people, because I believe they are, but somewhere along the road, they have just become so numb to the suffering going on all around them. They have no sympathy, no compassion, no passion for these people. I understand that we all have different "mission fields," if you will. We all have different interests and areas that we are able to help others. Some people work better with the youth, some have a heart for the elderly... and there are many people out there who have a desire to help and reach the homeless or there wouldn't be so many soup kitchens and shelters, but it just never seems to be enough. Every encounter I have with one of these precious souls leaves me feeling like there is a storm raging inside of me. I want so desperately to help, yet I feel completely powerless. I doubt myself, my ability to minister to them in any way. All I can think of is that I am one mistake or set of unfortunate circumstances away from being in their shoes. There are times though, when I do get the opportunity to just sit there and listen and sometimes I almost feel like that is enough. Many of them do not want our sympathy. They don't want our religion. They just want to be listened to, heard, loved on... A song that I haven't heard in years came to my mind today. I felt convicted because although I do have compassion for a lot of the people on the streets, I also find myself judging them too harshly sometimes. And then there are many days that I give myself a nice pat on the back when I do a good deed and I think it's enough to hold me over for a while... But the job is not done!

Asleep in the Light
~Keith Green

Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to you door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

Don't close your eyes
Don't pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love

Monday, December 8, 2008


I've been house-sitting since Thanksgiving. This will be the first night I've spent at home since. It's very difficult to go from a huge, 3-level home with big screen TVs, a laundry room, cozy sitting rooms, a fire place, a big back yard and a dog to my little shoebox apartment. I am feeling rather claustrophobic.

Or maybe it has less to do with the switch back to the shoebox and more to do with the state of my emotions.

Ken (the crush) and I have been hanging out a lot over the last month and have pretty much made things official this past week. Daily I swing from being incredibly happy and amazed by this incredibly funny, sweet, thoughtful man to being so restless and antsy I can hardly sit still. One minute I am on cloud 9 and can't wait until I get to see him again and the next, I want to turn off my phone, take some time off work and go on a long trip alone. When I'm with him, there is no place I'd rather be, but then after coming home, I fight the urge to call him and tell him I just can't do this... I adore him, yet I am terrified of him. Wow! I have issues.

Something my shrink said last week (have I mentioned I started seeing a shrink??) has been replaying in my head. She said that I'm a contradiction, but that it's because I desire connection, but that I also desire safety and that in my mind, those two do NOT go hand in hand. They are not related. The moment I start feeling a connection with someone, I feel very unsafe, vulnerable - and I run. Bingo!

Ken is amazing though. He says the sweetest things. He tells me daily that I'm amazing. I sent him a text the other day while driving home telling him the sunset was beautiful and by the time I got home, there was a picture in my inbox of the sunset "because I liked it so much." He asked why I was so guarded one day last week and I told him I was just feeling vulnerable and when I feel like that, I have to fight the urge to run. He responded, "silly goose, don't you know I can run faster than you. I'll catch you." He sent me a text checking up on me after my first shrink visit a couple weeks ago - just to see how it went. He remembers everything I say... he actually listens. John (the guy I was seeing late spring/early summer) showed up to poker one night and Ken sent me a text asking if I was going to be okay with John there. Then he says "not to worry, I'll get him out of the game soon." He asks if he can carry heavy items for me and when I say no, he smiles and says "you don't always have to be so tough" but he lets me carry it and doesn't argue. He tells me in quiet moments that I'm safe. When I told him I'm not a big cuddler/snuggler, he called bullshit, wrapped me up and pulled me close to him and I loved every moment in his embrace. He makes me feel so sexy, so feminine. He takes me on dates and is just the right amount of affectionate. He is consistent. I don't remember the last man in my life that was consistent. He is a giver. He is honest. He is vulnerable with me. He trusts me and says he feels safe and at ease around me. Some days I want to tell him that isn't wise. I want to warn him not to let his heart get involved because I will likely hurt him... But the moment I see him sign on the computer, or see that I have a text from him or see him in person, most of the fear melts away and I can't stop smiling and I just want to wrap my arms around him and melt into him.

Enough for now... I'm just confusing myself even more. Time to put away clean laundry and make my bed and try to stay put in spite of the restlessness I am feeling. Okay... let's be honest - I wont stay put. I'll probably ignore all that needs to be done and watch a movie or leave the apartment to go get food and maybe play the late poker game. I just need to get out of my head for a bit.