I first wrote about this back in 2009, but today I felt I needed to read it again. For me.
I’d been reading Bent Hope; a street journal, by Tim Huff. This book, which tells stories of his encounters with homeless people on the streets of Toronto and elsewhere over a span of twenty years, should come with a pack of Kleenex. I cried every night.
I thought I cried for:
- Thomas, who was searching for his sister and cried because he lost his last picture of her and was afraid he wouldn’t remember what she looked like,
- Amy, who felt badly for Tim who clumsily tried to beat off the guys who were urinating on her as she sat on the street,
- Coreen, who trembled at the name of Jesus, not because of its power but because her father said grace “in Jesus’ name” just hours before he sneaked into her room after midnight every night for ten years,
- Smoothy, whose pain remained his secret as he jumped a train out of town,
- Ryan the Bigfoot,
- Wolf, the unlikely caregiver who “got” Tim when others didn’t.
I finished the book and thought the crying was over, until I went to Michaels.
I had been there two days previously. A nice young man had helped me put together choices for a frame and matting of a photo, but I had gone home to think about it. I don’t make decisions in a hurry.
The following day, I went back, ready to order, but I couldn’t find the paper he had given me with the information on it, so the young lady who was on duty had tried to help me put it together again. I didn’t feel really comfortable about the result, thinking it looked different somehow, but went ahead and ordered.
The next day, I found the lost paper and realized my order was wrong. Frustrated with myself, I went back yet again.
When I told the same girl my problem, she sighed and appeared almost in tears. I thought that was a rather over-the-top reaction and began to get irritated. She was hired to service customers, after all! Thankfully, sanity prevailed and I managed to shut my mouth before what was obviously in my heart came out. I realized she might have been having a bad day before I ever got there, for who knows what reason, so I calmed myself down and tried to assure her that it was my fault, not hers, and that I’d appreciate her help in fixing my problem.
She did and, as I left, she offered a real smile with her, “Have a great day!”
I hope both of us had our days turn around. Mine had improved greatly.
So what does this have to do with Tim’s book? It’s connected to the reason I really was crying those many nights, I think.
I think my flowing tears were not just for those street people whom, as Tim wrote, we reject without knowing anything about them other than they are on the street when “there is no need, in this day and age in Canada”.
I think my crying was for all the lost souls, or at least partially lost souls, whose mind, will, and emotions just can’t take it anymore.
I cried for that girl at Michaels, who probably couldn’t take another person blaming her for something. I cried for the former pastor’s wife who doesn’t go to church anymore because, “I love Jesus, but his kids are just mean!” I cried for many, not all, who sit in megachurches, coming and going, part of a faceless mass, unseen and unknown, because it’s easier than having a relationship with a pastor or people, which they might need to do in a smaller church. I cried because we need each other but many good people prefer to live detached—physically or emotionally—because it’s just too taxing to live any other way.
There’s lots of “bent” hope out there. It presents at about the same time and in much the same way as does a worn-out heart.
But hearts and hope can be healed. Even though our hope has been susceptible to being bent ever since we left the garden, God has always wanted it healed and restored.
It doesn’t happen just because we go to church: it happens when we actually spend personal time with Jesus. Hearing him talk to you through the Scriptures, and talking to him in prayer–and often hearing that still small voice in your heart. One thing we hear Jesus saying in the Gospels is “I have told you this so that you will have hope.” He also said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Easy and light! How gentle he is with our hearts and our hope! He’s saying that being in a relationship with him does not hurt. That walking with him is joyful.
It’s the other yokes that are too heavy to bear.
“He restores my soul…,” (Psalm 23:3).