They say it’s not a good thing to “take your job home with you.” I always said I wouldn’t do that, that I wouldn’t let my job affect my personal life, that I wouldn’t think about it or talk about it outside of my "9-5." Or, in this case, my 8-3.
But I’m not so sure that’s possible anymore.
How do you see a 19-year-old come over to you on the verge of tears, shaking uncontrollably and telling you to stay calm because she’s having a seizure… and not think about her, be concerned for her, after she's taken to the hospital by ambulance and you leave and go home? How can you look at a piece of paper with the face of a woman on it that the police hand to you, asking if you have seen her because she is wanted, and though you have never seen her face in person, how can you not carry it home with you and wonder what her story is, why she is wanted, what pain she is carrying? How do you not think about the woman who is always so happy to see you, overly happy, but one day she says she’s “not a talker and would just start crying” if she began to talk about her pain, and though she doesn’t want to, she begins to cry right there.
Part of my walk through the neighborhood where Breakthrough is located
I think about the woman who walked down the street with me in the rain, telling me how beautiful of a day it is, and when we reach the building she thanks the Lord that we got there safely. I think about another woman I just met, a cancer survivor, who wants me to teach her how to blog so she can share her story. And I think of the girl who walked with me the whole way to the bus, talking the whole length of the two city blocks and then some, and then gave me a hug before I stepped onto the bus to go home.
The woman who has become a completely different person, so disassociating herself with reality that she is not even herself, all in an effort to not face into the realness of her pain… The woman who walks through the halls murmuring something I cannot discern, and I wonder who she is talking to, what she is thinking about, where she is… The woman who sits all alone, and even when I approach her and ask her how she is doing, she looks down and chuckles… The woman who does not respond at all when I speak to her… The woman who gets upset every time I look at her because it makes her uncomfortable, and I wonder why this beautiful woman is so insecure… The woman who begins to cry to me because she has been taking care of her three younger brothers and recently became homeless... The woman who talks about the walls she puts up around men because of things that have happened to her in the past, and I know I can't assume yet I know that I know, and my heart breaks.
I carry these women home with me. I know I’m told I shouldn’t. I try not to. I didn’t even know that I did.
Healing. Freedom. Love. Acceptance. All four are needs of mine, of yours, of each one of these women. All four I can try to give, but not like Jesus can. Only Jesus has the power to heal (Luke 8:46-48). Only Jesus can set us free (Galatians 5:1). Only Jesus can love unconditionally (Romans 8), and He loves each one of these women even more than I think I do. Only Jesus offers complete and total acceptance, telling us to come to Him (Matthew 11:28)… even in our worst and weakest moments.
I bring these women home with me, in my heart, but I cannot carry their burdens. Only Jesus can do that. Only Jesus was meant to do that.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It’s Jesus’ invitation to each of us, and it is only Jesus who can give us this true, deep rest that we desperately need.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). It’s Jesus’ invitation to me, to you, to each one of these women. And it is only Jesus who can take our anxiety and burdens off of our shoulders, only Jesus who can carry them.
May this serve as a reminder to me, and perhaps to you, that we cannot even carry our own burdens, let alone someone else's. Let us cast all of our anxiety upon Him without reserve. Let us come to Him, heeding His invitation to rest; for it is only Jesus who can save, who can heal, who can bring freedom.