I want to ask for a special prayer for Arritt this week, as he prepares to meet his 16-year-old daughter for the first time. The daughter’s mother has been hearing about how much better Arritt is doing and the daughter is at an age she has been asking a lot of questions about her dad; the mother decided the timing was finally right for them to meet. He is very nervous and, I imagine, she is very nervous, as well. Pray that this is one more new beginning in a lot of new beginnings that Arritt has been experiencing lately.
A big part of Arritt’s angst is rooted in how difficult it is for him to imagine good things happening to him. Feelings are usually not good and people don’t usually stick with him very long because of the destructive ways he tries to make the bad feelings go away.
“I used drugs make the bad feelings leave,” Arritt said on the way to church this morning, “but now I’m realizing that using keeps me from having good feelings too. I want the good feelings. I want a relationship with my daughter.”
We sat in the car so long this morning, talking about meeting his daughter that by the time we went inside Street Church had started without us! As we settled into our seats, I heard Bear ask the introductory question for the morning. This is a time where everyone introduces themselves and shares something, a story, a gratitude, a prayer request, with the group.
“How has God’s timing appeared for you this week?” he asked.
“Arritt,” I whispered, “Did you hear that?” He looked at me funny and I repeated the question. “We were just talking about God’s timing!” He smiled.
Street Church has been discussing these last few weeks about what it means to journey toward the fullness of God. There are things we have to let go of (the rocks in our backpack that hold us back and weigh us down) and there are new things we need to add to our lives (refilling our back pack with faith, hope, love) to fully embrace the good things God has in store for us.
Today, we talked more about what to do with those things once we’ve gotten ahold of that newfound hope and healing. In our passage (Mark 1:29-37), Jesus physically takes the hand of Simon’s mother-in-law and lifts her from the bed where she lay ill.
We too can reach out and lift up others, Pastor Chelsea told the group. “We receive help to get up and be made well so that others can also be made well,” she said. The group took time to reflect specifically on the passage in the context of our neighbor Rachel’s story. Rachel recently participated in a video interview (SEEN HERE) that is being shared in our churches for the love your neighbor campaign this month.
“I don’t want to be remembered as the homeless girl,” Rachel said. “I want to give my own little gift box into the the world.”
Many in the room related to her sentiment: Struggling and being ill; but wanting so desperately to give meaningfully to those around her.
“People are more than their sickness,” said one of our neighbors “The community helped her, but she in turn wanted to serve.”
John, who was back with our community for the first time in many months after dealing with his own illness, remembered how often that is true for those on the street. On one particular evening last winter, Steve—the man who passed away last Sunday—was having a difficult time.
“It was very cold outside, and a few of us started giving up some of the layers we had on to keep him warm,” he said. “I took off my jacket and a couple other guys gave him their hat and gloves. He needed it more than I did right then, and sure enough I got a new jacket at Micah the next day.”
“It’s not really about socks, is it?” Chelsea responded.
Pastor Carol piped in, “It’s the gloves, the hats the socks, etc. that enable the journey.”
Arritt came to street church many months ago with a lot of rocks in his backpack. It has been frightening at times for him to let go of the past and the painful ways it effects his life. His trauma runs so deep that sometimes being stable and feeling secure hardly feels normal. But slowly and surely, with plenty of socks, hats, gloves and conversations in tow, he has filled his life with new people and new things.
You may recall that one of the first things he added to Arritt’s life when he started coming to street church several months ago was a bible gifted by the Donna “Poo” Morris, the daughter of long-time community pastor Elwood Campbell. Arritt carries that bible with him to and from street church every Sunday. In a way, it has become is a symbol of the new identity in Christ that he is claiming.
You may recall that this bible was a gift we gave him as a reminder of the heavenly father who loved and adored him no matter what. As Arritt recently shared in his own video testimony (SEEN HERE), that conversation has been very important as he has worked to free himself from a traumatic relationship with his earthly father.
“When we have a healing encounter and embody what it means to see the light of Christ, people will come to you looking for Jesus,” Pastor Chelsea told our neighbors today.
Arritt responded, “It’s like an inner glow that comes out of us and we just have to share it.”
Indeed, with time and God’s help, share it we will, and so will Arritt.
Thank you for your continued prayers for street church. I hope you will also share in our joy, knowing that Jeremiah has made it one entire week in his new apartment. I found him happily sitting on the back porch last night when I stopped by his apartment. I could get used to this and I hope he will too!