The man sat in the exam room. Waiting. Life lines made their way around his eyes, over his brow and stretched across his forehead. They etched themselves into his leathery skin. His posture, once upright with joy and purpose, slumped him over slightly as he sat in the chair. His clothing was thinly patched and threadbare. Though only in his mid to late 40’s, he bore the appearance of one much, much older. He was worn and tired. He was homeless.
Lena walked into the room and greeted him warmly. He mumbled something about butterflies as he looked at the ones that adorned her scrubs (she almost always wears something butterfly-related 🙂 ). She asked him what he said, and he asked if she had seen The Silence of The Lambs. She replied that she only watched bits and pieces of it…the only part she remembered was where Anthony Hopkins was in the cell and said, “Hellllloooo, Clarisssse.”
He told her that he was quoting the part where the killer was talking about butterflies with the dog in the bucket. He asked her why she had butterflies on her scrubs. She proceeded to tell him about Mia. It’s funny that she cries so many times at the mention of Mia’s name when we’re alone, but in public, or to complete strangers, she talks so freely about her and what she means to us.
The man then asked how she could do that. “Do what?” she asked. He replied, “Talk about her and still have a smile on your face. Be happy.” She then told him about how Mia was in Heaven and was in her future and not her past. She let him know that she was with God, and she would one day get to see her again.
He started to cry.
She asked him what was wrong. He said to her that he needed to run into her today. When she asked why, his answer touched her heart. He told her that he was really down about his circumstances. He wasn’t where he dreamed he would be when he came to Atlanta. He never thought he would be homeless. A feeling of worthlessness surrounded him. He was grumbling about how they wake him up at 4:30 am at the shelter because he has to leave by 5 am. Now, he was glad they did.
She then shared the story of how we came to be here…not where we dreamed we would be either.
He asked Lena how long she had worked for Mercy Care. She replied, “A week.” Then, “How long have you lived in Atlanta?” Again, “A week.” An incredulous looked crossed his face as he asked, “So you moved your entire family into your mother’s house, your husband doesn’t have a job, and you did that to help people like me?”
What she said to him next was what truly inspired me to write this post.
She told him she was just like him. When he asked her how could that be, she asked, “You believe in God, don’t you?” He replied, “Yes.” Then she asked, “And you need air to breathe, right? And food to live?” His lip started to quiver just a little bit as he answered, “Yes.” He was reduced to tears yet again as she replied, “Then we are the same.”
Lena finished her exam on him and they shared some more conversation. He asked her if she would pray for him. “Not right now, though,” he said. “You might slay me in the Spirit, and I might fall out right here!” She laughed and said, “That’s not me. That would probably happen if my husband prayed for you!” (I don’t know about all that, now…) She told him she walks around the office as she goes about her duties praying and talking to God, so she would remember him in her prayers.
When they were finished, she asked him what he was going to do next. He said to her, “Since it’s so cold outside, I’ll probably just wait in your lobby until they run me off. It’ll be awhile until the line starts forming for a bed at the shelter.”
He continues to show me that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. No, I haven’t found the job He has planned for me yet. No. We aren’t living in a home of our own. Yes. Our family is a bit spread out now, with Caitlin and Samantha still living in South Georgia and Makayla and Emma here in Douglasville with us. I have faith, though, that He will make it all work the way He’s already mapped it out. I know there is a purpose for me here. I know there’s a home with our name on it. I know our children will be just fine as long as we continue to follow His promptings. After all, His plans are “for our good and for us to prosper”.
This verse might upset Lena a little bit. And I apologize to her in advance if it does. You see, God gave her this verse not long after she was baptized and decided to try to have another child. As I turned to Jeremiah this morning for inspiration, the card she wrote it on fell out. It may not just have been for our son that we named Jeremiah Christian.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
The meaning behind this verse is so poignant.
“God knew you, as He knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He thought about you and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that He has a purpose in mind for you.”
-NLT Jeremiah 1:5
This video is one I discovered while writing this piece. It’s message is powerful. No matter your circumstance…what you’ve been through, where you are or what you’ve done…it’s never too late to start over. Run to Him, not away from Him. Embrace Him, don’t shy away from Him. Most of all, let Him love you and guide you and be willing to follow His direction…no matter what. This life is fleeting and temporary. Our future in Christ is eternal.
Be blessed, and be a blessing…