Sunday, January 13, 2013

Inside



We stood there in the sleet, just outside the door of her new house in the ghetto, with its flaking paint job and clashing trim. I used to drive through those neighborhoods at a crawl, desperate to know what life was like behind the windows covered from the inside with faded Sesame Street sheets.

Now I know. Or at least I know a little.

I know what it looks like in there. I know exactly what it smells like - cigarette smoke, cooking grease, urine, rotten food, sweat. She has stayed in five houses since I've known her and the only thing that stays the same is the smell.

She showed me around while I side-stepped garbage bags spilling baby clothes and cracked toys, and all I could think was, this place could be a knock-out. You'd never know it from the outside.

The carpet was filthy, but a vacuum? How in the world could she ever have a vacuum? Small appliances aren't in the cards for this one. She'd just like to get her hands on some dishes.

I was tired on my drive over to see her. I didn't want to go. I wanted a regular Sunday afternoon. A nap. A book. Something cozy. Something just for me.

I wanted to tell her I couldn't help this time, because I see into the future. I know her fingers on that rental agreement had better be loose. I thought of the book, and how it's such a convenient excuse for when we'd really rather not help.

Then, there she was. I saw her from a block away - I'd know her anywhere. I saw her red cheeks and nose, bitten by the air. I saw the crazy hair and the skin I would kill for. The cigarette, her easy laugh, her grandiose plans that sound to me like impossibilities. All I could do was smile.

So we stood there in the sleet. I watched tiny pearls of ice collect in the part of her hair, catch light from the arc of a curl. I don't know that I've ever stood so long in the sleet, but I would have stayed so much longer.

I went in with my own big ideas and listened while she shattered each one with the clean crack of truth. She needs help. She's drowning. She's alone in the entire world, raising four little boys while every single dad sits in jail. She's taking a step, then taking more in reverse. She has one person in her corner.

So I won't leave, even when I think I want to or I run out of ideas or enthusiasm.

I'll promise to always play it straight and I'll expect the same from her. I'll say no sometimes. I'll say wait.

She drags her untied shoes through the mud and the slush and something happens between us. I still don't know what it is, or if it's even for me. I have my doubts about her future in that house. But maybe two or three months is plenty. Maybe she'll show me a thing or to about my big, stupid plans.

Maybe we'll shine it up, that job she's waited on will land at her door, and we'll watch the months collect like lucky pennies in our jar.


40 comments:

  1. Beautifully written.

    I SO hope and pray for good things for her. Her life sounds incredibly difficult.

    I'm so glad she has you in her corner.

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  2. there's not just one person in her corner. to hear her story gives us words to pray for.
    just keep showing up.
    whatever comes or doesn't come her way...you show up.
    sometimes that will be enough.

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    1. You are so right, Meghan. Think of how many people will pray for this dear lady just because of these honest words! There are SO many in her corner. And thank-you for blessing me with the reminder that showing up is enough sometimes. :)

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  3. I felt like I could see her standing there in the sleet. I will pray for her tonight...pray for God to send blessings her way, to show her He is in her corner too.
    ~FringeGirl

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  4. You are making my world tilt sideways and I like it. Don't stop.

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  5. I am so glad you have each other! You spent this afternoon close to the heart of God! Well done, this afternoon, FPFG!

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  6. *Sigh* Shannon, just *sigh*. I'm so feeling this post right now, and it totally coincides with the thoughts I'm having over here that are keeping me up to write this comment at 12am, but I didn't want it to end, "MAYBE". I want it to end with somebody shaking something out of anything. Shake that gal and see if something falls out, shake that house, pull blood from that stone over there!

    I dunno. I'm sure I'll come back and read it tomorrow and feel different about it...but for now I want to putt that "MAYBE" there across the lawn.

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    1. Not YOUR "maybe", by the way. Just the REALITY of "maybes". I hope it didn't seem like I was criticizing.

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  7. I see myself in both of you. The hope, the despair, the dreams, the reality, the longing to make a difference.... That's what you're doing Shannan. Making a difference in so many lives.

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  8. Thanks so much for standing with her....

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  9. I just checked "the book " out of the library a few days ago. So often you write right where my brain is simmering.

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  10. I can't go into too much detail but. Our foster baby's mom has come into my life. As I read your blog I am reminded to live the gospel. I am reminded that it IS my job to 'show up'. I would like to ignore her for selfish reasons but I simply cannot (Proverbs 24:11-12). I want to just love her sweet baby that is special on every level. But I know that God expects me to love her as well. Comfortable no. But necessary. THANK YOU for reminding me that I must look past my selfish(ness) and 'show up'.

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  11. I want to rescue her and the babies. I want to find her a vacuum cleaner. I want to buy books to read to the little ones. And I want some of her courage to keep looking for the good that may not come.

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  12. Thanks for allowing us to see this through your eyes.

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  13. Do not lose the hope, someday somehow, things will change!
    xoxo
    heather

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  14. You're such a brilliant storyteller. This reads like a novel and I want so badly to read the whole story, all the way up to the ending. My kids have a book where you flip to certain pages to determine the storyline and ending. Maybe by petitioning heaven with you for our new friend, we can do something like that. I hope so.

    I love reading your heart and all the comments here. So very grateful, FPFG.

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  15. I am so in awe of how God's love shines through you. What a blessing you are to all of the people who know you (in person and here online.)

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  16. Simply amazing! From the way that you translate your heart, her heart right through the keys on the board, onto the page and into our homes and hearts - truly amazing!

    Simply amazing! How you are obedient even when you'd rather be selfish, how He keeps showing up to pull you in further.

    Simply amazing! How He will use you to touch not only her but hundreds, if not thousands through this blog world!!

    Simply amazing! How He chooses you - chooses us, to be His hands and feet in this broken and weary world!

    Praying for you Shannan, as you continue to step into the sleet, to answer His call, to pour forth His grace, tenderness, mercy, love. Praying for your husband and he supports and goes with you - for your children as they see Jesus modeled first hand in the heart of their home!!

    Yes, keep showing up my friend and we will be right there with you <3

    -Lorraine

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  17. Praying for you as your love this one and hers with the big love God has given. You are such an example of being His hands and feet. Everyone needs someone in their corner...

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  18. Hope & prayer & a vacuum......

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  19. Gah...I hate how your posts always make me weep.

    Then again...

    Gah...I love how your posts always make me weep.

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  20. You are just a true blessing and an inspiration to us all!

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  21. Can we all chip in and get her a vacuum cleaner?

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    Replies
    1. This is so sweet. Thank you for caring about her with me! I'm hauling mine over on Wednesday. :)

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    2. How old are her boys? I might have some nice gently used things they can wear.

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  22. We are all that girl. We just have more money, nicer clothes and a vacuum! Life is hard, pain runs deep and tomorrow is another day!!

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  23. Thank you for these words. They are true, and beautiful and helped my heavy heart today. I am so thankful you are in this women's life...even if she can't tell you, to be sure, know she appreciates you more than words can say.

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  24. There's so much to said for just...being there. I know what smell you're talking about.

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  25. you don't know how much i love this. how you did church twice on a sunday. thank you, on behalf of this beautiful woman.

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    Replies
    1. Ditto, Em.

      Thank you, Shannan, for taking us with you.

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  26. Why did I not comment on this? Oh wait, I remember, because I was boo-hooing.

    xxoo

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  27. Your posts make me hunger for more of Him :)

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  28. Beautiful and hard - I pray you are renewed as you pour out, and that she takes hold of all His goodness for her and her boys. Thank you for seeing her beauty.

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  29. Others have said my thoughts better than I could... Thank you for this post. I will pray for all the families behind the faded sheets. I'll also try harder to " show up" for some who could be my kids classmates...

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  30. Oh girl, our lives are like little mirrors of each others' . . . I am grateful for encouragement through your heart and words. Know that I am praying for your friends and for your family and every time we walk into our own neighbor's houses, I think of you and am glad to know we are not alone in walking with Jesus to the smelly and hard places :-) LOVE you!

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