Socks go missing in my house daily and we form search parties to find them. It’s a mystery, really, how pairs of socks become matchless loners overnight. And yet it’s not lost socks that need search parties, but people.
My own perspective may be darkly shaded. I nearly lost a loved one to the streets some years back, and the sleepless nights in prayer amounted to an out-of-the-blue visit.
I was a new bride – married one year. It was before I had children, or resources, or gray hair, but I talked my husband into taking this person in, he who had no home.
One duffel bag – it’s all he owned.
Having been on the streets for years, sleeping on a random couch here and there, he wasn’t accustomed to a bed, so he took the mattress off the frame and put it on the floor. We helped him. Whatever made him comfortable.
The chests of drawers we provided were never filled. He kept his belongings in his bag ready to be carried out at a moment’s notice.
We gave him space.
More than once before and during this time, we were warned not to take this person in. What he needed was tough love. He would pull himself out of the squalor he created, but not if we opened our door to him.
We didn’t listen.
Three months later our gentle guest took initiative and got connected with mental health services. Six months went by and he had a job within walking distance of our home. Three years from the day he moved in, he was accepted into a rent controlled apartment, was given a car, and has lived independently ever since (nine years).
“Not all who wander are lost.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien.
Maybe it’s my crazy faith, not great, just crazy, that allows me to take these risks. I’m not a church follower, a preacher follower, but the man who drew a line in the sand and said to the religious leaders “he who is without sin, throw the first stone,” well, I follow him. I was/am that woman in many ways and I feel like that line in the sand was drawn for me. She was a risk.
I’m a risk.
A school counselor was the first to notice my at-risk behavior. It was middle school. I was spiraling in school. There were reasons. I couldn’t tell. By high school, I was running away from my problems, experimenting in a myriad of destructive behaviors, and generally abusing myself.
And then at the age of 15, I sat alone in a room with a rickety fan and no air conditioning, and opened a Bible. I spent the summer with words. When Jesus spoke the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew, I knew I was that sheep, led astray by the shepherds (Ezekiel 34). I gripped the edge of Jesus’ garment like the hemorrhaging woman, and metaphorically, Jesus picked me up, and hasn’t let me down since.
I’ve been carried for long stretches of my life.
Yet it’s in these admittedly weak times, that the shattered, disgraced, sickly, hurting, dying people have come to life before me. The shepherds have turned them away, too, ignoring their needs, condemning them. And in many ways it’s the broken souls that keep me motivated. The lost socks.
I write for them. For me. And maybe for you.
Word carving is my passion and vocation. My husband and children are my soft place, the reason I laugh, and why I’m growing a real interest in science. I’m writing my next manuscript, some poetry in between, and I also ramble on Twitter @katienewingham about chickens, writing, news, and other randomness. I follow other writers and parents who aren’t trying to sell me something every five seconds.