Butterflies and Brokenness
SUPER BOWL WEEK
I was part of serving a women’s shelter in 2018 with the non-profit I was working for at the time. Here is an account of a very moving experience that happened during that time.
This past week, SourceMN, the non-profit that I volunteer for in the USA set up a 24/7 women’s shelter specifically for the Super Bowl which was held in Minneapolis. Like any large event coming to a major city, trafficking increases in the area because of supply and demand and the Super Bowl is no exception. We were able to host women who have been sex-trafficked or have been working in the life of prostitution, and this temporary shelter was set up to be a resource and presence just a couple of blocks from the Super Bowl stadium.
We ended up hosting a number of women in or leaving the life and I was particularly affected by interacting with one of our clients. She came to our shelter after a very traumatic event. She needed extra presence and attention as the shock she was in made her deeply react at the smallest noise. She needed to be close and couldn’t go to sleep without one of us in the room or by the door.
I did a number of night shifts and for two of the nights that this young woman was with us I was privileged to sit with her as she rested in to sleep. In the room that we sat in the first night the picture for this blog was pinned on the wall. You see, the rooms had all been carefully put together by churches across the Twin Cities and touches of light, art, hope and love were present in every detail.
I had seen the image before we had a woman with us and if you read back over some of my blog posts you will see the journey of butterflies in my story. The butterfly for me represents the ever present remembrance of a time of transformation and grace. This time however, as you can imagine, I was struck by the name on the image and even the age.
You know, I often wonder what on earth I am doing. I didn’t say yes to this work because I knew the outcome, and although I have been an advocate for Eden Ministry (www.edenministry.org) who work with women in the red light districts of Asia, I have never sat with women so traumatized by the life they have left or are in the process of leaving. I am part of a story I have never read before. I am present and available and that is scary, vulnerable and raw at times.
So, back to the butterfly. By the second night we had moved rooms due to some rather loud heating systems that kept on making us ALL jump. There were butterflies on the bedding of the next room though and it was here that my dear new sister turned to me and said, “Well, if there wasn’t change in the world, there wouldn’t be any butterflies”. I shook a little inside and smiled at her saying , “wow, you are so right!”
I stayed with her as she went to sleep. She flinched as my hands came towards her to stroke her hair, I prayed for her and slowly she became rested. I had the privilege of being in the darkness with her as she went to sleep and then I left the room. I was aware of my own darkness in the midst of such a tender moment. I was humbled by grace.
The next day when I returned to the shelter for another night shift and it was time for bed. My new sister was still in trauma but she wasn’t so jumpy. She asked if I would pray for her as she went to sleep. I did. She then looked at me and said, “can I pray for you?”. What? I thought to myself. That’s not how this works. My goodness, it took a deep breath to hold it together but of course I said yes, of course the beauty of it was breathtaking and of course I was in awe at this unexpected moment of grace. The butterfly in the room already spoke to me of the transformation available to us all. That here I was faced with a young and vulnerable woman, ha, here I was faced with a young and vulnerable me.
Sally means daughter of the king, it is a derivative of Sarah and the more I have thought about the colored in image done by a 4 year old, the more I have been struck by what it means to lay down ones crown. We are called the beloved of God, we are his daughters and sons and we carry the holy responsibility of walking humbly in what we have been given. My sense of it is that this journey of seeking the shalom of my sisters is more about walking in royal authority tethered to having the humility to simply bow to what is being offered in any given moment. The challenge I know that I have faced is that of being attached to my way of seeing and addicted to my way of thinking about how Gods economy works and who grace is. As a name also so intimately part of my being, Grace is emerging more and more as a silence and surrender that the ego just cannot bear.
So, here I am, again. Humbled by the interaction with those I am remembered to serve, heartbroken by my own brokenness at times and excited by the power of transformation. Cause just like the butterfly all colored in by our young selves, and honestly there is grace in the unknowing and in our youth, there comes a time when we are destined for beauty and transformation because of the things we DO know, the crazy making thing is though that we must stop trying to figure it out for ourselves and realize any kind of freedom is about truly letting go.