Physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted.
This was me this past Sunday afternoon. I had absolutely nothing left.
I knew the end of the week was straining. I worked many hours, back to back to back, with little replenishment in between, but I didn’t know what the result truly was, until I was in tears on Sunday afternoon, in the middle of my kitchen, with my wife standing there and my daughter running around in uninterrupted play.
(This post is a bit different from anything I’ve posted before, more like a journal entry than a normal story or blog post. I wanted to delete it because it’s length and discombobulation, but I felt as though it’s chaos might ring true for someone and what you are going through or have gone through recently, so, here it is.)
It all started Thursday Night.
Thursday nights we have my favorite version of Outreach we do, Don’t Walk By. This is where we leave the bus at back in NJ and just walk around the streets of Midtown Manhattan looking for people to love and have conversations with, although, that night would be different than any other night I had been on before. I was asked to lead a search and hopeful rescue of a woman that is the daughter of our president and sister of one of our interns. She is lost in Harlem, using heroin and broken. Her family is desperate to not let her die on the streets, so they are doing everything possible to reach out to her and provide her an out if she wishes to take it. The next step in that was to meet up with her former boyfriend, a user and dealer, who would hopefully lead us to where she is staying - with another drug dealer in Harlem. Least to say, this was an unknown and possibly dangerous situation.
After a plan was set and the correct people were chosen for wisdom and presence, we made our prayerful way up to Harlem where we met (after waiting for 2 hours) her ex-boyfriend. He tried inviting her out, but never received a reply - probably because her phone was dead at that point in the day. We spent the remainder of the night walking the parks and driving the streets of East Harlem. We didn’t find her.
*Please pray for her, her name is Lauren and she is stuck in a deep pit of despair, unable to free herself.
After driving back to the base and then onto home, it was 2:00am before I made it to bed.
Friday morning, my daughter woke up at 6:30am and we played and got ready until I took my wife’s car into the shop to get the brakes done at 8am. While there I worked on writing supporter thank you notes and I got to know the staff and other customers around me at the shop. (The owner was awesome, he recently started a non-profit to help single parents with free car repairs or replacements and to partner them with churches for financial management classes! I love meeting people who use their passions to help others! :)
After the car shop, I switched vehicles with my wife and went to have lunch with a friend I have been mentoring and doing life with for the past 5 years. He is moving to Arizona for a new start and it is amazing to see where he has come in the past years, I’m so proud of him!
From there I drove into the base, took a 20 min nap in my car, and then was in and ready to start prep for Friday night’s outreaches at 2pm.
Every Friday night we do 3 simultaneous outreach to the roughest areas of Newark, NJ.
I lead the most transient, street-homeless spot, located at Newark’s Penn Station. It was there I met George. George has been homeless ever since April and he was completely desperate to get off the streets and be clean. I sat with him for an hour and set up a roadmap for him to take from the hospital to make sure his diabetes is under control, to a shelter, to detox, then onto a program. It’s a lot of steps, but George has my cell # and has been doing a great job at keeping me up to date on his progress.
*Please pray for him, he’s at detox right now.
By the time clean-up and connection time with the other leaders had completed, it was after 1:00am. I stay at the base sometimes on Friday night in order to get extra sleep. This is especially helpful when nights run late on Friday.
Saturday was the nail in the coffin.
Up at 6:30, we prepped and I lead a team into the S. Bronx. Overall, it was a great day - all except for one conversation that I had about half way into the 4 hours of outreach street time.
This conversation goes down as one of the most wrong, heartbreaking, and honestly pure evil things I have ever heard happening to an individual - and that’s saying something as I hear some pretty crazy stuff day in and day out.
It started when I noticed a woman becoming agitated over not being able to skip the line of people waiting because she was in a wheelchair. I approached her and offered to stand in line for her while she waited, as to be fair to the other 50 currently waiting in line and not to play favorites. ( When I lead, it’s SUPER important to me that everyone, volunteers and especially staff included, waits in line to get food and drinks. I love showing our friends that we are no better than them - just because we come on the bus vs. coming to the bus.)
After calming her down and learning her name, Jacqueline, I was able to learn her story and really understand a bit more of why she is the way she is.
I’m not going to go into all the details of her story, because honestly it’s so bad, but to give you the PG version: She was raped by her dad from the age of 7-12. At 12, her mom told her that she needed to leave because, “He’s the one that pays the bills”. Mind numbing and it leaves my heart in disbelief that such evil could be real and not just on tv. At really, that’s just the PG version of all she told me. Now Jackie is 48, she has spent most of her life addicted to drugs and in jail. Now she is in a wheelchair because of having one of her legs amputated, with full expectations of the other leg going soon… Makes a lot of sense why someone carrying around such baggage as that may become agitated quicker than normal. But, want to know the funny thing? Jackie could not stop praising God, she went on and on about how she knows she was created for a purpose and is just trying to figure out why He keeps her around. I asked her if I could give her a hug, which she welcomed, I prayed for her, a volunteer who heard what was happening brought her food, and I said goodbye.
As I walked away I couldn’t keep it together anymore. I started crying. How? Why? It’s not fair. So many emotions filled my mind. I took a minute to gather myself before the next person came up and needed my attention to their situation.
We came home, cleaned up, debriefed with the two outreach locations, prayed over each other (A huge part of the day: As leaders, we pray with each other, that anything evil from the streets would not go home with us and we would be made free!)
But, even after the prayer, my relaxing drive home, and enjoying my Saturday night with my family, I still felt zapped and empty.
On Sunday, we got up early and volunteered at church (We just recently got back involved after having Selah. I teach and “emcee” for elementary aged large group and my wife does check-in)
When we got home, all I wanted to do was veg out. Sit in front of the tv, take a nap, sit on the floor and play with my daughter, ect.
My wife had other plans.
She saw it as the only moments where we would be home together, so she lined up a plethora of tasks for us to get down all around the house. Clean this, organize that, fix here. Really it does make sense. With her working M-F and me T-S, Sunday is our only day to get things done together.
The only problem was I had nothing in my tank.
I was out of fumes even, completely depleted. All I had left was tears - and they came out. Instead of frustration or anger, my wife came and gave me hug and asked what was a matter. I proceeded to share all of this with her and she pulled up a chair and told me to sit, relax, and that I was going to be ok. That we could get to these tasks at a later point. I was seriously amazed. I know how important tidiness and order are to her and she was willing to put me above all of that and just love.
Because of that love, I was able to replenish, to refill my tanks to be ready for another week.
Thank you Renee for knowing how to love me and doing so unselfishly. I love you. Thank you for believing in me and in what God has called me to do, even when I push too hard and don’t balance everything well. Thank you.