When a person who got off of the streets and into a home shows up again on the streets.
You hear her voice around the way. She is asking about you. "Is Elisabeth coming to Bible study today?"
Heart sinks. She should not be here. This was not the plan. The plan was to pick her up next week at the transitional home where she's living and take her to a women's shelter where she can have the support she needs.
I could hardly smile. I wasn't happy to see her — not then, not there. "Mary, what are you doing? You aren't supposed to be here."
"I know," she laughs. "But I had to see Thomas. We stayed outside together last night."
In someone else's tent. They never showed up. It didn't smell too good.
Thomas is her long-term boyfriend, essentially like her husband. Theirs is an abusive relationship; they spend most of their time combatting one another.
He does not help her move forward. But she "is in love with him."
What is love? Statements or actions? Are the statements of love enough if the actions die?
What if your life has been repeatedly threatened by your lover?
The thing is, Mary knows what is good for her; she knows what she needs to do. She wants restoration, hope, healing. She wants to do the things she promised herself she would. But she is stuck.
We were a bunch of stuck people around a table this morning, reading Jesus' words at the Last Supper:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."