by Emily Gaud
“Go…”- God (Matthew 28:19)
As you go out this week sharing “Blessing Bags” with women you encounter on the streets, let me tell you: you are courageous.
Mostly, you are courageous for choosing to go. It doesn’t really matter who you are going to… just that you are going. Many of us live in a self-focused reality where it’s easy to lock our doors, roll-up our windows, entice ourselves with daily pleasures and forget broken and hurting people exist out there. Or, we see the news and hear the depressing reports, and we lose hope that we can do much to bring healing to the hurting. But, it is crucial that we go. We can bring the love of God out beyond our walls. We can bravely take a step beyond ourselves and engage in our community, albeit uncomfortable at times, and impact the people we encounter. When you do this, you will fully know and experience the graciousness and mercy of our Lord. Believe me, I know.
Three years ago I found myself wandering in the unknown. Then, God placed in my path an opportunity to build relationships with women experiencing homelessness. Let's be clear, this was NOT my idea. I had never thought of working with the homeless. Actually, they were kinda invisible to me. I would see them holding their signs on street corners, but it never occurred to me to interact. Honestly, it felt awkward sitting in my car, doing everything I could to not look at them. I mean, surely, these were dirty, dangerous people. And why weren’t they trying to get a job?
As I built these relationships, my preconceived ideas were shattered.
These women have college degrees. These women have had careers. These women have raised children who are full-functioning citizens. These women are articulate, intelligent, and creative. The homeless population is littered with talent and wisdom. In fact, this community has shown me what it means to lay your life down for another. I have yet to meet a community that fights for each other and takes care of each other in the way these friends of mine do.
The women I have met doing this work are also courageous. They face hardship every day. Not only do they have to survive each day, finding food, shelter, water, and toilets, but they have to deal with men that are only interested in one thing. And I have learned women on the street feel safer being connected with a man, no matter how terrible he may be to her, than being alone. For a woman, sleeping on the streets, alone, is dangerous. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve seen the evidence.
I have had the honor of hearing so many stories. Every woman, every person, has their own story. You have your own story. And as you share a sliver of your precious time with women experiencing hardship this week, they will become a part of your story and you will be a part of theirs. What an amazing gift God has given us.
And I want to thank you! You, bring a fresh face, a beautiful smile, and the living, breathing hope of a God that loves extravagantly. Go, and love. Go, and lavish. Go, and look her in the eye. See her. Hear her. She has a story to tell; a story you need to hear. And who knows, you may find that you have much in common and much to learn from each other. She may have raised her kids in the exact cul-de-sac where you are currently raising your kids (true story).
Go! Unleash what God has given you, what He has put in you, and be ready to experience His love and mercy like you've never experienced it before.
Emily Gaud was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago where she learned to love the outdoors…through traveling away from the flatland. With a degree in Psychology, she now runs Reverence Movement, a ministry for homeless and at-risk women in Boulder County, CO. In Boulder, she found her passion for Jesus and disadvantaged communities. She also may have cut her bangs completely off... when she was 12- years-old… not a toddler.