When I was asked to speak at the North Langley Community Church’s Breakaway Christmas Breakfast, I learned that the ladies at the Breakaway group have been talking about lots topics over the last few months – subjects like pain, loss, grief and forgiveness – subjects that I’m intimately familiar with. Today I was able to talk to them a little about Hope – the very thing that keeps me breathing every day!
There must have been 250–300 ladies in attendance. There were many mamas with their little ones under kindergarten age. Beautiful, as just this morning Papa led me to share more of my personal story, the personal story that was mine before NightShift began. This is a story that I have not often shared. But here I was… listening to Papa’s promptings about speaking from my own personal loss of my father, then my baby and husbands, and how I had lost all hope. I knew immense grief and no hope.
In truth, before NightShift I didn’t have much love, hope or purpose. I was desperate and had lost my compass. God’s kind of love was foreign to me. I loved people with conditions attached and only if they fulfilled my expectations – my own standard of acceptance. I learned to protect my heart from repeated hurt and pain. I slapped back with angry words to push them away. I pulled back – used the silent treatment. I criticized. I blamed.
Following years of intense counselling and prayer, I came to realize the truth and my bruises slowly began to heal. Today, I can stand before you, unashamed, and admit that I’m not perfect, nor is my life perfect. It’s ok to be flawed. It’s ok to be messy. It’s ok to be real and admit my pain. It’s ok to be vulnerable. Because with vulnerability comes strength.
The people that we serve on the street and our NightShift volunteers are the same. Everyone is looking for love, hope and purpose – just like I was. Pain is pain. My pain, your pain and the pain of the people we know and love are the same. God doesn’t waste our pain. He takes all our stuff and turns it into good if we give it to Him.
As the theme of this particular Breakaway was about hope, I was able to share how God redeemed my hope by leading me to NightShift at age 50. Many women in the crowd today, all different ages, could relate to this pain as I was very young when losing my father, my baby and my first husband. And older women could hear that they too can find hope and purpose in doing something so awesome as helping others to find hope, like I am privileged and humbled to get to do at NightShift. There was a whole lot of HOPE in the room! 🙂
Our purpose today at NightShift is this – offering outreach, counselling, education and transitional housing by serving people who have no love, hope or purpose. Papa carried me through a lifetime of pain and heartache to joy, so I could share this joy and hope with others!
So have Hope! If God can use a woman like me – a woman with lots of flaws – imagine what can He can do with you!
“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)