I did not have a cookie-cutter childhood. Who really does? While we all know that life is not going to be without pain, we desperately seek to assign meaning to the hurt. We strive to figure out why some circumstances happen. Sometimes, we immediately see the answer, but in others, it takes a great deal of time for the grand reveal.
Either way, it is a divine thing when God gives us a glimpse of why. I have found God’s “why” for my life with Hope Week. It has changed my childhood from a collection of hardship to moments of preparation. Preparation to be right here, right now, coordinating the outreach events for this year’s Hope Week.
Growing up my Mom was, for the most part, a single mother. She was married and divorced a few times, most of her marriages being unhealthy and full of traumatic situations for our family. From an early age, I observed how hurtful men can be and how my Mom desperately sought her worth in a man. My Father wasn’t around when I was little, therefore; I had little knowledge of a true Father.
I remember living in a women’s shelter to escape an abusive stepdad. We shared bunk beds and spent our days looking forward to the activities the center provided the kids to take our minds off of being essentially homeless. Eventually, my grandma welcomed us into her one bedroom apartment in a low-income apartment complex. Even though I slept on a floor and had all of my belongings in a small tote, I felt loved and knew God was with us. We didn’t have the life my Mom intended to give us but being a single Mom is hard. She loved us and gave as much as she could.
Most people couldn’t understand why we had it so hard; why Mom couldn’t find a good man; why our life had to look like this. The anguishing question of why–trying to uncover the meaning of many dark days.
Ten years later, I stumble upon Journey Church. Quickly, Journey becomes my home. I begin serving at events. I discover my passion for God and event planning. After a lot of praying and believing, I accepted a staff position with Journey Church and now coordinate all outreaches for Hope Week as the Cleveland Hope Exchange Outreach Director.
Which leads to my “ah-ha” moment.
As I sit and look over all of the places we will be volunteering I realize God has brought me full circle.
I was once the little girl in a women’s shelter waiting to play a board game.
I was once part of the family who frequented the Laundromat where we will offer free change.
I was once living in a low-income apartment complex where we will spend time brightening the day of others.
I had to be all of these things so I could be here, right now. I had to be so I could understand what people, in situations similar to my own, were feeling. I had to be so I could tell them it is going to be okay.
Now, I have to tell them how we all share in their story. I need to let them know how God can use their pain for something good. They need to hear how He is the ultimate picture of Fatherhood.
I’m confident I’m not alone in having a connection to Hope Week. I know many of us have walked in similar shoes. Maybe some of us still are. This is our chance to give our pain and hardship a purpose. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”
Now is when we can spread God’s light.
We can take our time, talents, and treasures out of the walls of the church and into our community.
For me, the question isn’t why anymore.
Now, it’s why not!