I’ve cried a lot today. Big shocker, two/thirds of you think, knowing my familiarity with tears. That’s okay, I thought it too even as I wrote it.
Tears keep streaking my cheeks because while I am dumbfoundly excited and proud that after months and months of painstaking work my team and I have managed to identify, process and house 66 people, we lost one. In the week leading up to her move-in she was around and then just gone. Vanished. We have no idea where she could be.
This reality is not new to me, it happens all the time working with a transient population, but something about this one feels more off than most. Miss K is a tiny older lady, who speaks broken English and is often rather confused- the fact that she has managed on the streets for as long as she has speaks volumes as to her tenacity and strength. I admire that about her.
“You should be happy! Go celebrate the 66 people who will sleep safely in BEDS tonight!”
“I am! I am! I am ELATED…but I can’t deny the knot in my stomach with Miss K’s name on it. I don’t care what we do, we have to find her.”
And while I am deeply saddened and determined to find Miss K and bring her home, that’s not why my eyes keep spilling over.
I’ve mentioned before that my getting-to-this-far point in my life has been colorful. I went through years of being all over the dang map; struggling with substances, faith, doubts in that faith and deep seated insecurities that led me to make some very poor and dangerous choices.
But God never gave up.
He never stopped coming after me, showing me His face when finding me curled up behind life’s dumpsters and ditches. He never said “Well shit, looks like I lost her- but whatever, look at all these other wonderful children I have!”
I don’t know if anyone would have blamed Him if He had.
But He didn’t.
He kept looking for His lost sheep until He found her. She was messy and dirty and full of shame, but He didn’t care, he was just happy she was coming home where she belonged.
And I think I finally get it, to some very small degree at least. At the end of the day it’s not about numbers or statistics, it’s about people- each one being unique and special and loved. I am overjoyed when I see the faces of the 66 others, but the real celebration will begin when we welcome our last one home.