Since the holidays passed just as quickly as they always do and we are well into a new year, I have had a lot on my mind. And guess what, since this is my blog, I realized I can write about that if I want to!
When I set out to come here to New Mexico about a year and a half ago I had a ministry of presence laid on my heart. Through all of the tasks that I undertake on a daily basis, my days don’t feel complete unless I’ve gotten time to sit down with our residents or other clients and just talk. This can mean heating up some tea or hot cider and just chatting about little things to the ladies or listening while they ask for advice or vent about their day. Sometimes it’s about mediating heated disagreements. One of my favorites has become laughing and goofing around as we sort out donations together. One resident that sticks out in my mind we accepted into our program not long after I first arrived here in New Mexico. She would become angry very easily, set off by little things that triggered her past traumas. One incident with very “fortunate timing” because in women’s group we had just spoken about learning how to ask for help when we needed after which, I made it clear that I was willing to be there should anyone decide that they wanted to confide in me. This woman came to me in one of her angry moments and she talked. I listened. Her thoughts went high and low, from here to there, and everywhere in between. Many times not making sense. As she relived a horrifying sexual abuse situation she ended her recount with, “It was disgusting, Elaine, it’s disgusting what people do to each other”. Those words echoed in the silent space that lingered between us. I had no words of advice for her. The typical, “It will all be ok” sounded hollow and meaningless in my head. So we just sat. Her stories soon got less angry and more everyday. Soon, we were laughing again.
It’s easy for you all to imagine that I love tea time and telling jokes. But, I also treasure those time of vulnerability that show a whole new beauty of a person. I appreciate the times when some feels that they can show emotions that are not typically seen as socially acceptable. There’s beauty in a broken heart finding rest, hope, and resilience by one’s own decision, breaking free from a long oppressed hole that another person stuffed them into.
Why I wanted to tell this story is to expand on something I mentioned in my last post. I added in that I dislike that a lot of times we have to compare our situation to someone less fortunate to feel better about ourselves. I firmly believe that feeling content in our lives and current situations is something we need to work out between you and God. We don’t need to feel sorry for other people in whatever situation they are in. I’m trying to work out in my mind, how can we figure out how to help them instead of using their situation to lift ourselves up.
What comes to mind is the many discussions that I have had with my missionary class about serving in ministry with and not for. Those we serve with aren’t intended to be an example or a charity case. They are brothers and sisters that we serve along side.
It took me a long time to realize that I can’t do anything for our clients. I can’t change their past, I can’t alter their current situation, and I can’t shape a future for them. But, I can be there to listen when they need time to vent or just talk. Sometimes the words I offer in response will have no depth or great impact whatsoever, but I can still be there and be present. And through all the heartbreak sometimes all I can do is offer up a “Broken Hallelujah” for those I serve with as well as for myself.
I’ve included the some of the lyrics to this song, “Broken Hallelujah” by The Afters that have been helping me get through the last couple weeks as I wrestle with some of these thoughts:
I try to find the words to pray.
I don’t always know what to say,
But You’re the one that can hear my heart.
Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.
With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.
Blessings to you in your daily mission field as we serve in ministry with.
Until next time.