Love Wins

Post by Sarah McCoy for the Love for Love series.

image by Amanda Oaks

Love Wins

Today is a relatively slow day at work. This morning I briefly counseled a woman who I have become friends with over the past few months as she has come to me in various states of distress, typically on Monday mornings. Today she is more down than she has been recently and for that I am sad.

I am pastor, friend, listening ear, and referee to a community of approximately 100 people in downtown Raleigh, NC. My community is unique because it is mostly made up of individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness or are marginally housed. While there are many theories about the root causes of homeless and/or poverty and thus their so-called solutions, I believe that homelessness is at its core not an issue of housing at all but rather an issue of relationship.

If you were to find yourself in a situation that could possibly mean you would be without shelter for the night, the week, or even the month, you have people that you can call. You are probably putting together that list in your mind right now. When people find themselves with nowhere to go it means that there is no one to call.

Once you are homeless you are “the other.” People no longer look you in the eye. You are often arrested simply for being in the park and looking poor. It is, I can only imagine, nearly impossible to maintain your sense of worth when you are constantly and overtly treated as though you are less than human.

I am not an economist, nor am I a city planner. I am just a woman who went to college and then graduate school, became a minister, and am now privileged to find myself in a community of people who share their lives and stories with me. Though I believe sweeping social change may happen I do not put much stock in it. More importantly, I do not wait for it. I believe that change happens at the micro-level. It happens in repeated conversations between my friend Juanita and I. By continuing to be available to her and to look her in the eye, telling her in word and in deed that she is amazing big things may happen. She may realize that she deserves better than her abusive on-and-off-again boyfriend who cheats on her and sells drugs out of her apartment. She may not. Either way, I will love her, I will hear her and I will support her.

It is a holy moment when someone realizes they are worth a damn. I have seen it. It sent shivers down my spine. It happened recently when my friend, a 43-year-old alcoholic, saw a glimpse of the talent and beauty in himself that everyone else did and decided to go to rehab. He is 30 days sober today. What made this possible? It was not me. It was love. I was just there and willing to give it. As Dorothy Day said, “Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light a fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and suffering will then seem too much.”

Rev. Sarah McCoy is the associate pastor at Love Wins in Raleigh, NC. She blogs at Sheologian. In her free time she reads, takes lots of pictures, rides her pink bicycle, and spends as much time as possible with her niece and nephew. She is “momma” to one shelter rescue, Maddie Mae.


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