Generally when I hear the words, “scarred for life”, I think of something embarrassing or gross that happened, such as when my parents do something weird around my friends or when I say something completely idiotic to someone, but after a year of living in Washington, DC and preparing to go back to the small town where I grew up, those words take on an entirely new meaning.
I’ve been working this year at a soup kitchen of sorts, but I do stuff on the case management side so I’m interacting with those experiencing homelessness that we serve, and it completely exhausts me. I am not built for direct practice, I’m that awkward person who has a hard time knowing exactly what to say, especially when it comes to telling people older than me what might be best for them. I’ve never experienced homelessness, I’ve never applied to countless jobs only to be turned down because they found out I’m not housed, I haven’t even ever rented an apartment, how am I supposed to tell them what should be happening in their life? I don’t know. I know they can exercise self determination and really it’s up to them, but if they’re suffering from mental illness or experiencing something else limiting their cognitive ability, there’s not much I can do except to try and connect them to another agency, if they’re willing to go and actually understand what I’m telling them. It’s hard to live in the capital of the United States of America, what some people would call the greatest country in the world, and see so many people affected by homelessness and poverty.
Why is this happening and how can I find my niche in which to fix the issue I am most called to?
I am also working at a Presbyterian Church that houses the social services agency I work at, though not nearly as much. My duties there consist mostly of going to church and being actively involved with the community by working with young adults (they’re still all older than me), college kids, soccer games, and whatever else comes up that draws me in. I am so inspired and touched by everyone at that church and it breaks my heart to be leaving them in two months. The church is full of amazing women pastors and leaders and it’s amazing, everyone there is somehow involved in the church ministry, and they have all shown me just a glimmer of the potential the church has in changing the world for the better and for everyone, not just the rich, white elite. They’ve also completely changed my view of God and what she, or he, may have in mind for my life, as well as those around me that I interact with on a daily basis.
How do I incorporate my faith into what I will ultimately end up doing?
The hardest part of leaving DC will be leaving the amazing women I have shared this year long experience with. We’ve been through a lot of tears, a lot of heartache, and so so so many nights filled with laughter and sisterhood. I know by living with them it’s been kind of a forced friendship, but we’re here and we’re bonded and it’s going to hurt like hell to break that bond. I’ve learned a lot from living with people, such as I need my own room, and I’m less of a control freak than I thought (but I still want all the doors locked when I go to bed), and I’ve also learned that our bodies, minds, and souls are wholly connected and one or another does not need to be oppressed, I’ve learned that gentle spirits can also be intensely and hilariously feisty, I’ve learned that it’s hard to eat vegan and I still think it’s unfathomable for my life, but I respect the hell out of that decision if made for the right reasons, I’ve learned that strong, sarcastic women are hilarious and incredibly deep, I’ve learned that it’s hard to make decisions, but people will love you no matter what you decide, I’ve learned how to be strong and I’ve learned how to be weak. The one thing I haven’t learned is how to cope with leaving.
How do I go back to what was and how do I carve out my path?
While I’ve only been here for a year and that is merely a scratch on the surface of my twenty-two years on this earth so far, the scars will last forever, the scars of good times and the scars of bad times, and I’m incredibly thankful to have all of them.
P.S. Pineapples were awesome before, but now they have a special place in my heart and will always remind me of this year.