Over the last 15 months, I have blogged various times about our work with the homeless. We have struggled with what to do as a church, confronted those opposed to the ministries, expanded the work we do, wrestled with the city, wrestled with our own internal conflicts, and continued to grow in grace.
In my work with these ministries I have witnessed many relationships. Relationships are a quirky thing when you live on the streets. Rarely do you get something for nothing, there always seems to be a trade involved. People (at least from what I see and experience) aren't simply friends to be friends, there's always something at stake. People are befriended because they can get you something (food, shelter, cigarettes, information, or whatever substance your body is craving). Often the relationships are abusive and "transactional"--continued only for the trade-off that can be negotiated.
yet, in the last few months I have witnessed one relationship that stands out to me as exemplary of the true depth of love.
C is one of "our guys" who sleeps at the church. He has been sober for 8 months now and has been a model and example of what we hope for in our work (progress, sobriety, feeling loved by those around him regardless) and since sobering up, he has been able to reconnect with his ex and their young daughter. T and their daughter come to the church in the evenings to spend time relaxing and talking with C. Not the "dates" most of us would dream of (or even think of as reasonable or desirable) but they are faithfully trying to rebuild trust together and forge a new beginning in their relationship.
It is awesome to me that after two years of being estranged (and strained) that they are both willing to come together to seek redemption in their relationship with one another.
I am impressed and inspired by T's resilience and commitment to try and make things work. Regardless of the fact that C doesn't work (and hasn't for a long time), fights his addiction, he sleeps "on the streets" and cannot provide for her or her daughter, she still has hope for him and for their relationship.
Relationships are hard and they take intentionality and work. They are doubly (if not quadruply) hard when you deal with an addiction, let alone joblessness and homelessness. I admire C and T for all they do for one another and for their patience in rebuilding their relationship. I really am impressed and inspired by this example of love.