Last night I spent an evening hanging out with the women at Rahab’s Sisters. Rahab’s Sisters is a ministry that provides hospitality to women marginalized by prostitution, drug abuse, and homelessness. I haven’t volunteered there for over a year, but I was invited by a friend to stop by and so I did.
It’s been a long time, but things really haven’t changed. If I were to give someone advice about working with women on the streets it would be this: expect nothing, open your heart to be in the moment with someone..there is enough in that.
Last night I met up with “T” one of the women I really adore. She’s 48 and looks 68, she’s full of restless energy and a love for her children that is unparalleled. And her mind is steel trap…she is smart. She is also a drug addict. If she weren’t an addict I can only imagine how her life might have been different. Next month, she told me, will mark the first time in her life she will be not be on probation in 35 years. Crazy. T has told me stories, every one of which I believe, that I cannot imagine living through. To say that she is resilient…I am not even sure if that is strong enough. Why she is an addict makes sense at some point. How someone lives with pain and memories of her life is incomprehensible. Poverty doesn’t allow for competent therapy and support.
Last night as I listened to T, I wondered for a moment why I had stopped volunteering. Much of it had to do with my own life and energy at the time. I grew tired. I remember once training a large group of eager young women to become volunteers. Their hope was to make an impact…to pull women’s lives out drugs and prostitution. Yes I hoped for that too. But real change happens in small, unnoticeable increments. Prostitution and drug addiction are two of the most difficult things to get out of. I don’t want to say that it is hopeless. But hoping for an outcome and wanting to “make a difference” had become disingenuous to me. Who’s agenda was I serving. I can only love and be present. That is all that we are ever asked to do. It can be a difficult a thing, being fully present with someone else; even harder with someone we don’t know, someone who is struggling. T made it easy last night. She reminded me of our sisterhood; she reminded me of why just “being” is enough.