Saturday, December 1, 2012

No Expectations

I'm back from a month-long blogging hiatus! Things have been a whirlwind recently. On a few occasions I thought about putting my thoughts to key regarding what has taken place recently so I sincerely hope tonight's blog has been worth the wait!

I've always had this personal theory about how God speaks to us and about how God expects us to act. To me this all happens swiftly and with urgency. That "gut feeling" that I get: God. I believe that God has an expectation that we fall with our eyes blindfolded and with arms wide open in full trust that He will be there to catch us.

I've always believed in the old adage that what goes around comes back around; i.e., karma! I believe that if you focus on blessing others, with your heart right, that the blessings will come back to you. It's that whole "heart right" part that I have struggled with for so long.

There is no denying on my part that one of my biggest growth opportunities has been to give and to love without expectations. I have struggled with this. I've wanted to learn how to do this and to give and to love with the right heart. This month God really tested me and my new found strength in this skill of no expectations! (If you know me you probably cannot imagine me even forming the sentence: have no expectations!!! Ha, ha!)

On the third Sunday in November my family and I joined up with our Waters Edge Rider's family out at a homeless shelter for Veterans to cook a Thanksgiving meal. It was an awesome experience for us! While we were out there we were introduced to a woman.

This woman, Missy, was not a Vet, but she and her husband had been displaced and this particular shelter had room for them so they allowed them to stay. Missy was in tears talking about how they had ended up in Louisiana from Chicago and her tale was full of traumatic events. She shared that she was pregnant and the baby was eleven days overdue. She had nothing for the little boy that was soon to be in the world, no money until the third of the month, and she feared that she would lose her son.

I'm generally a cynic so when God tugged on my heart saying, "help them", logic immediately set in and said... "Really? She is 44, she doesn't look pregnant. Her story is a bit far fetched." But God said, "help them." So, I listened. I chose not to run my mouth with conspiracy theories and I decided to help them.

I wasn't sure where to begin. I didn't have the funds to provide for a baby in a day. Shoot, I have a baby coming in March and I think we have gotten so much as a onesie!! "OK, God. I'm closing my eyes and going to fall back now. Catch me, OK?"

Social Networking is a pretty cool thing. I put a couple posts on a few different pages and the donations came pouring in. I was in awe of the hearts of the people within our community. In 24 hours I was able to see God provide for a family with nothing. He took her from nothing to having more than enough for a newborn baby boy. Truly amazing!

When I first moved to Louisiana I wanted very badly to work for a local non-profit that was devoted to connecting people with the right resources and to helping people with the right life skills to get on their feet. It would have been awesome, had this non-profit actually existed. It didn't. I thought for a long time that maybe there wasn't the need here like other places I have lived. Boy, did these past two weeks teach me otherwise.

As we were taking in donations for Missy and her husband, Terry, people were asking about other donations. Could we take anything else for people in need? My husband and I both agreed, yes. Why not? We have a huge shop that's just sitting here, over half empty, and we have the room. The experience put us into touch with so many other activists within our community who were dedicated to serving the city and who had different resources and talents. The network was falling into place.

Our landlord was so excited about the new venture. Next thing we knew he had blessed us with all of the wood needed to house the shop with shelving units. People came forward to donate time and labor. Shelves went up and donations poured in. Friends joined in as we sorted, organized, and awed. This all happened in less than a week!

Days had gone by and I stayed in touch with Missy and Terry. God was pulling on my heart telling me that my place wasn't to just dump these gifts on them and to run. God was telling me that the need was bigger than that. It hadn't been met yet.

By the Sunday following the dinner both Missy and Terry were being moved into a room in a house, away from the shelter, where their dogs could roam free and they could have a little more independence. They could have a little more normality. Once again the amazing hearts of those around me shone through, but God kept pulling on me, telling me that the need hadn't been met yet.

My husband and I started to reach out to the couple more. The closer we got the more we understood how dysfunctional their relationship was. Our concern for the well-being of Missy and for her unborn child were growing stronger.

During this time we constantly had an influx of donations and needs. The shop was hopping! It felt wonderful to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Daily I would ask Missy to go to the hospital. Daily she would tell me she was going to go later. This was an enigma to me. I couldn't understand why she just wouldn't go to get checked out. I had mentally decided that only one of three things could be happening: 1) she isn't really pregnant and has been living a lie even to her husband, 2) the test results may show that he is NOT the father, or 3) she is an addict fearing what her UA may show when she goes into the hospital. My husband and I felt frustration, but it was from a different place then where it normally would be from. We weren't concerned about all the stuff we got for her. We were concerned because we didn't know how to best help her. It just didn't add up.

Yesterday I took Missy to Wal-Mart to get some basic things, like underwear. The things that I take for granted. I was standing in line at the check-out waiting for the blow of the total: $87 and change. Not too bad, but definitely wasn't in the budget this month. It's amazing how God knows our steps and the state of our heart even before we do. When we got home that evening I had an unexpected check in the mail for $90!

Today comes and the phone rings. It was Missy and she was begging me to come pick her up. She had drama with Terry again and was again rambling on about how she had to leave him. The logic of the whole situation didn't really make sense. My "gut" was telling me she was pushing him away. People do funny things when they get scared. Missy is an insecure woman and I could totally see how her actions answered every question I had about the baby enigma.

My husband and I told her that we would be happy to pick her up, but that she was going to the hospital. No more excuses. No more resistance. Missy agreed with hesitation. Her husband was ecstatic because each time he begged her to go she diverted the situation with accusations that put him on the defense.

We took our time getting out there and when we arrived she had finally come clean. She wasn't pregnant. Missy had a miscarriage earlier in the pregnancy and her insecurities got in the way of her honesty. Terry had always wanted a child and she feared he would leave her if she couldn't give him one. Her insecurities and her fear of rejection had caused her to create an environment in which he would just leave her or she could justify leaving. This way she would never have to come clean to him face to face. I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if we hadn't been connected to this couple. Would this honest moment ever have happened? Would they have been separated?

Missy was so scared to tell us the truth that we already knew. I don't think she has ever experienced authentic love before. She only knew love with strings attached and love with expectations. The reality was that I had so much empathy for her situation even though I didn't agree with what she did. I understood it.

With all of that said and done we still refused to whisk her away. This time there was no running. These two needed to communicate. They needed to figure out where they wanted to be now that they both had an honest awakening of where they are.

Without even thinking and without hesitation I said something to the couple that even surprised myself. I told them that the baby stuff they had been given was theirs and it was up to their discretion what they do with it. I shared with them that there were several needs for baby boys in the community who were recently born or who were about to be born that we had been made aware of. I put the ball in their court to decide if they would like to bless another family with what they had been given. If they did, we were here to connect the right people to the items. If they didn't, fine. We would be in touch.

Then we left. We left and we went about our day. I had so much peace. A year ago, hell even six months ago, I wouldn't have had any peace at all. I would have been pissed to say the least. My perception would have been that we had been taken advantage of. I would have steamed about where the items could have gone and I would have taken them with me today when I left. My heart would have grown a little harder and my mind a little more skeptic. I would always wonder who was "really" in need. I was nearly giddy that this didn't happen.

I did it. I finally did it. I gave, I loved with no strings attached. No expectations. It felt really good! I sincerely believe that our steps are ordered before we take them and that people are put into our paths for a reason.

I cannot wait to see where God takes this new venture of our over the course of the next few years. If you want to learn more about what we are doing in our community or to learn how you can get involved, visit us on Facebook at today!