For the forgotten, on Mother’s Day.

A lousy excuse for an auditorium full of the least, lost and leftover. As the hundred-plus women crossed the threshold usually bound shut by a steel gate, I immediately grew heavier. You would too if an otherwise empty room suddenly filled with stories of loose-fisted boyfriends, botched abortions, rape covered up as prostitution because ‘bitch, you said you needed smack,’ and babies who never made it home from school because children services met them at dismissal.

The women filed in for lunch, carrying with them broken cigarettes shoved down dollar store brassieres, second-hand purses filled with empty wallets and near-empty liquor bottles, plastic bags for closets, and shame the size of Texas.

I mustered up all the Jesus joy I could and met them with open arms.

In return, they met me with the pungent odor of stale urine, little eye contact and hesitant smiles.

Every year my mom, sister and I serve at a local ministry’s Mother’s Day Brunch, serving, pampering and loving over 100 women, most of whom know the streets better than they know the inside of any four-walls.

And every year God takes all my white-collar rich-girl privileged-theology BS and shows me what he really meant when he said, I have come to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, to set the oppressed free. (Luke 4:18)

As I carried fruit punch, hot coffee, and full plates to my table of women, I watched the love of God overwhelm in spite of my looming judgment.

“I want one with a bigger strawberry,” she confronted me as she pushed her plate back into my hand. “Everyone else got big strawberries and my strawberry is small.”

{Is this really happening? I thought you were homeless.}

“Well, I can try and get you a plate with a different strawberry but I’m going to have to wait in that long line of servers who are also waiting to get plates for their tables.”

She stared at me, her way of saying, I don’t care – that’s your problem.

The one seated to her left came to my rescue, “Take your damn plate and stop giving this woman a hard time.”

I set the plate back down and moved on, internally shaking my head and wondering how close I had come to my first street fight. All because of a piece of fruit.

I nearly fell over when five minutes later, after all the plates had been served, one of the chefs was stopping by the tables handing out heaps of leftover strawberries. With my chin to the floor, I watched as my strawberry diva was served a mound of the delectable red fruit.

No freaking way did God just do that!

I met the fierce wave of humility as God reminded me just how much he adores these women – his intimate provision for them putting my pride and entitlement in its place. All I could do was laugh.

I found a seat next to another woman, likely my age, wearing three sweaters, a scarf and a head wrap. It was 70 degrees outside but I guess it only makes sense that the easiest way to carry all you have is to carry it on your back.

I tried to make conversation, “How many kids do you have?”

“Three. Two boys and a girl. But they all grown now.”

“Grandchildren?”

“I got nine. The oldest is 21. My daughter gave me him when she was eleven. We ain’t never got along – me and my daughter. She so bad. They tried to get me for her and that baby but I wouldn’t let them take him, he my grandbaby and it wasn’t my fault that damn girl couldn’t keep her legs shut.”

She was chatty now, “The daddy never in the picture. Prison. Serial killer. I fought my daughter for bringing us all into that mess.”

I stopped trying to process. I wasn’t sure if I needed to cry or vomit. I sat frozen. I swallowed the bitter disbelief that this was her actual life that she was sharing with me.

“I’m so sorry,” I muttered.

I sat unacknowledged. She began making a bed for herself on the bench we shared as she mumbled something about needing to rest her arm. She had spent lunch spiking her fruit punch with a clear liquid she pulled from her purse; it seemed that its effects were taking their toll.

That afternoon I returned to the comforts and safety of my home, the love and confidence of my family, unable to imagine where or by what means the women I had just hugged goodbye would find shelter for the night.

And God, in His wisdom, drew me to His Word. The verses that first gave us life and purpose as women.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

Scripture continues, giving equal power and purpose to this perfect and fresh creation. And it was good. (Genesis 1:27-31)

I read and weep. The original plan – his perfect intention – for us to be equal, divinely imprinted with the likeness of our majestic creator. We were never created for oppression, to be stifled and belittled, domineered and shoved aside.

What happened, God? What happened to your creation? We were created with strength, equality, and loving purpose. However did we get here?

I wept and screamed and breathed and grieved and prayed, that we don’t know a better world for our daughters because the darkness that set in with the serpent’s tease destroyed the glorious beauty of that first Eve.

What I wouldn’t give to go back among those women, squeezing fierce their cheeks in my hands, demanding their eyes meet mine, with the words of a Father who wouldn’t stand for the story of a broken creation.

I can’t make this right, and I can’t find the sense in it, but I can promise you, with all my might, I can promise you that there is a plan for you, oh beautiful one, there is a mighty plan, and it starts with Jesus. 

Just find him, find him in this hell on earth, and hold on, don’t let go for one second, just clamp down on his hand, precious one. I don’t know the first thing about this life you’ve lived or those steps you’ve walked, but I know that there is more than enough love and grace and mercy to hold you up, my darling sister. 

Oh how I begged with God. I want abundantly more for my sisters – abundantly more restoration, redemption, healing, wholeness. Lord, please. Please hear our cries.

I close my eyes, and I begin to let go of my dreams, allowing my heart to fill vivid with the faces of those who have forgotten how to dream, and I pray a prayer that only One can answer.

 

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1 comment for “For the forgotten, on Mother’s Day.

  1. Abby
    May 8, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    This is powerful, powerful stuff, Hollywood. Wow. God bless these words.

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