I’m forgiving because I have been forgiven



By Kristen

I grew up mostly in Maryland, some in DC and Howard County. Out here I’m still growing up—so Fredericksburg.

I came to Fredericksburg because  I had an aunt that lived in Hartwood. I came here when I was pregnant. It was a pregnancy that no one wanted me to do, so I moved out here and got assistance from my aunt for a while. And then I got an efficiency.

I have two children and some grandchildren, as well. There’s one I’m especially fond of because I raised him for a while.

I used to do dry cleaning or waitressing. I really like waitressing because you can be yourself and give people what they need.

Some of my favorite childhood memories include being at my grandparents house in DC, spending time with my father. I have come to think differently about my mother, but at the time I didn’t think it was so good because she was really strict. But now  I sort of get it. It has taken me a while to get it.

I’ve been around, on and off the street, since before there was a Micah. It’s been a struggle. At least here you can get food and a place to take a shower. There was none of that back then, so you either connected with someone who could help you or you didn’t. Micah has become sort of like a home, a family unit to me; and without this I don’t know what I would be doing.

Alcohol had a big of my becoming homeless. I slept outside, under bushes in a park. That’s what I’ve been doing off and on. It’s especially difficult as a female because there’s not many females out here. There’s a lot of men, but not a lot of females.

The churches have played a very important role in my story. With my first daughter, Brianna, I took her around to different churches. I wasn’t raised going to church, but I had a really good friend in Maryland when I was much younger who was really big into AA. He used to come in the coffee shop where I worked and try to convince me to go to meetings. He introduced me to the church. Then, when I had my daughter, because of the spiritual experiences I had had been through, I thought it was important for her to have that upbringing.

I took her around to all the different churches back then. She’s 32 now so this was when she was 3 or 4. She sat still at the Fredericksburg Baptist Church. She wouldn’t have any part of the children’s program, but she sat still in worship. I’ve been through a lot, but I continue coming back to the church when I’m struggling because I get peace.

At one point I used to think I don’t have any regrets because its all made me who I am. Then I get older, and yeah I do have regrets. My mother was strict with me but I was a straight up jerk and I’m paying for that now, and I get it now. When you ask me about fond memories, ironically a lot of things pop up with my mother. I regret that I haven’t been a better daughter. I regret that I haven’t been a better mother. I regret some of the crazy stunts that I’ve had to go through on the street. I wish I could make things up to my mother who now has dementia and my father who is now deceased.

I’m most proud that I’m still here, that I’m still alive and I’ve been able to make it through all the stuff that I have made it through.

I currently got housing right before Christmas. I stayed at the respite house, and eventually the housing kicked in. I’m not having to sleep under a bush or wonder where I’m going to sleep under a bush or wonder where I’m going to sleep, or slide that cardboard box under something outside, which is what I had been doing. Things are different now. I’m in a place where I have running water and food, and things like that were neglected.

I have a couple goals right now. I’m going to complete AASAP—a program for people who have had DUIs—which I started many years ago. There is a lot of things in my history that I haven’t completed. I’m paying off the electric company what I owe them, and just trying to work on the things that people sort of do and that I have always gone away from.

I’ve learned that some of that has to do with post-traumatic stress disorder. You can say I’m impulsive and I’m this or I’m that, but I also have PTSD and these are all symptoms of that too. I’m working on those things. I’m seeing my Therapist. Its nice to the day. It’s nice to be in from the rain and all the craziness. I’m very grateful for that.

I’m sort of the epitome of love your neighbor. I don’t know where that fine line is. I’m really forgiving, because I have been forgiven. Loving thy neighbor, to me, is sort of everybody. 

When you walk down the sidewalk and see someone outside it is so important not to judge, but to give people a chance, to acknowledge others—it goes a long way. 

Unhoused neighbors experience a variety of cultural, educational, economic and situational barriers that keep them from re-entering the workforce by traditional means. Many desire meaningful work, but require community support and creative approaches to successfully transition into the workforce. Last year, 36 of our neighbors have engaged in employment support with Micah.

Fredericksburg’s downtown churches began their journey toward the vision for Micah Ecumenical Ministries almost 18 years ago. We’ve now been at this as many years as there are miles to the treacherous Jericho Road of the Good Samaritan story. Along the way, encounters with our neighbors’ suffering have taught us much about the home God envisions for humanity, and how we are called to take part.