By Nicole Heifferon
It was 8:30am in the morning and I was walking into work, my coffee in hand. As I was entering our front office, I noticed one of our residents standing there on the office phone. I quickly realized something was wrong; she was crying and visibly upset. I immediately set my coffee down and asked her what was happening. She then proceeded to tell me about some recent setbacks in her recovery, how she had left her phone in her friend’s car the night before, she needed to call her probation officer, but their number was in her phone, she was anxious about some legal meetings that day…you get the idea. I sat with her, and tried my best to just create space for her to be.
I was at a loss for words in that moment. I didn’t know what she needed. As she left for her meeting at JAMLAC (Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic), I simply prayed. That’s all I knew to do. When she came back from her meeting she was not only visibly calmer, she had a renewed sense of hope. Our partners at JAMLAC provide more than just legal services; they also create safe space for clients and help them process their thoughts and emotions. I’m so grateful for the role that they play in our residents’ lives.
She was about to leave for some more meetings that day and was becoming more nervous once again. And once again, I had no words. Before leaving, she asked for her mail. As I pulled it out of her mailbox, I noticed a handmade card. It was made from construction paper, in the shape of a heart, and some things written in crayon. I then recalled that a school in the area had donated some items and the handmade cards for each resident. This card was made by a elementary student who had never met our resident, and probably never will. I glanced at the card and noticed it said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV). At the bottom of the card, this young person had written, “I am praying for you.”
I handed it to our resident, she read it, and immediately began to weep. With tears streaming down her face, she looked me in the eyes and said, “This is exactly what I needed to hear right now.” The space between us was so sacred in that moment. The tears this time were different than they were early that morning; this time her tears seemed to almost be healing and a release. It was nothing I said, nothing my own human strength mustered up. I simply was trusting the Spirit, trusting how God goes beyond our own human capabilities or limits. He makes the space sacred, reaches out and touches the deepest parts of us. I sent our resident off to the rest of her meetings that day and said “We love you, we support you, we are praying for you.” And I sent her off with peace inside my soul knowing she had those words from the book of Joshua tucked away in her purse.
Moments like that one make me reflect on how beautiful and crucial community is in the process of healing for our families. If one of our staff members hadn’t of connected that school to Joshua Station, that card would never had reached her hands. If she didn’t have JAMLAC, her legal process would be much more overwhelming. If it wasn’t for her family advocate and the rest of the Joshua Station staff, she wouldn’t have the support she needs. I could go on and on. But this is the work we do…we walk in the confidence that there’s a God who is in all and through all. He’s in the tears, the space between us, and even cards made out of green construction paper.