10 years ago, I didn’t know my life was about to change—forever.
When a man named Larry James invited me to a forgotten street corner between a bus stop and a homeless shelter, I could not imagine how this place, this particular, forgotten corner would witness my healing, my transformation.
If you had told me then that I was broken on the inside, I would have puffed up my chest to keep you from getting deeper.
I had so little to offer on that corner, though I thought I was coming in as the wealthy one. On the outside, I was the wealthy one—the person from the affluent neighborhood—but inside, I was limping just the way some of the people I met on that corner were.
As they—the men and women on these streets—chose to open up their very souls to me, to tell me their stories, and reveal their own needs, they slowly gave me permission to do the same.
I stopped feeling like I had to always say, wear, do the right thing. Perhaps being there, with them, was enough.
I thought I came to offer saving or to rescue them, but now I see I was there so that God could save and rescue me—through them. Save me from defining myself off of wealth, accomplishments, and outward definitions of success—to trade that measuring stick in for another one, a truer one: how God sees me… that I am beloved based on off his very image in me. That same image expressed differently in every person I would meet, in me, and in you.
As I learned to love myself, to receive God’s acceptance and love, I was able to turn around and start to offer back that love. It had a lot of starts and stops to it. I still had a lot of failures, less successes.
I have learned the most through my failures, through what hasn’t gone right, from what I didn’t understand. Failure has become one of my most valued teachers—now, when something doesn’t go “right,” I get excited, looking for the new way of seeing that’s wanting to speak to me if I stop to listen long enough.
As I reflect on 10 years, the overwhelming feeling is gratefulness. Gratefulness that, though my life had inwardly fallen apart, that Larry invited me to that corner, that I said yes, that Brown and Ava, Greg and Edward, Peggy and Julie, Janie and Bobby, and so many more, have let me into their lives—that they’ve let me see who they really are, warts and all, and have given me permission to heal alongside them.
The same Greek word for salvation in the New Testament also means healing. That’s what’s happened here… what’s happening here… I’m healing, we’re healing. It’s not a destination, it’s a life journey, and there’s no path I’d rather be on.
Would you like to hear more about Elisabeth's journey with one of our very first friends experiencing homelessness, and what their relationship is like today? Check out a trailer for our upcoming short film, dropping on August 11th!