The following post was written by our new team member Natalie. We asked Natalie to write about why she has and continues to engage with vulnerable women and their children and she shared her heart and experience so beautifully. I know you will enjoy reading about why Natalie says yes.
When asked to write a piece about why I am interested in this line of work I think back to the women I have met over the years and what God has taught me through them. These women are the why behind my yes. The women who I have been blessed enough to be trusted with their stories and called by God to walk alongside. These women inspire me with their strength and resiliency. They encourage me to continue on in the work of empowerment through support and creating space for them to be seen, known, and heard. Space for them to feel the love of Christ and know the hope that life can be better, different, and that there is so much more for them!
I think back to *Sharea, a young woman who “survived” her way through life on the streets selling her body for a place to sleep, a meal to eat, or a space to call “home”. She moved into a safe home I worked at the young age of 22. She was pregnant with her third child and her two oldest were already in the foster care system. As she carried her third son in her womb, the weight of carrying him in her heart was far greater. Holding her hand in the hospital room while the technician showed her a digital image of the precious life she was carrying, I saw in her eyes how desperately she wanted his life to forever be in her life. Life alone on the streets was all she ever knew, but she desired life with her sons in a home of their own.
I think about *Rachel, a woman who grew up without ever knowing her father and taking care of her alcoholic mother. She came to me as a requirement of the courts to regain custody of her youngest daughter. She had given up parental rights of her two oldest children, and this daughter she was fighting for, she had been fighting for since before she was born. This young baby girl of hers was born out of an assault on Rachel’s body, dignity, and womanhood, but she chose life for her young daughter and continued to fight. There were truly outrageous things being required of Rachel in order to regain custody of her young daughter. I thought if only the system believed in her, if only her worker wanted good for her, if only the foster family fought for not just the young girl, but fought for Rachel too, then maybe Rachel could finally experience family, have a chance to love and be loved.
I think about *Grace, a young woman who grew up in the system, afraid of the dark and to be alone in her own room because of the nightmares that were once her reality. She turned to drugs at a young age, something introduced to her by her own mother, who was introduced to meth by her mother. A generational cycle of drugs and abuse, who would be the one to break this? When I met Grace she was completely hopeless. She saw a broken system that damaged her and then took her two children away entrusting them to their fathers. Grace knew what it was like to be without a mother and she didn’t want that for her young son or daughter.
I got to sit with Sharea in that hospital room and continue to build a relationship with her. When she moved out she gifted me with a picture of the ultrasound and a letter that said: “Thank you for not just changing my life, but my young son’s life as well”. I still have that picture with me as a reminder that sometimes people just need us to sit with them and truly see them. To care for them and make a space for them to know they have so much value and worth, to know there is hope!
I met with Rachel’s CPS worker, I wrote letters to her case manager and weekly emailed her county worker. I made calls on her behalf, not because I had to, but because I believed in her. I saw the fight in her eyes, the drive to do more and be more. She fought her whole life all on her own, and for this moment in time, God was allowing me to fight with her and for her, because he never stopped fighting for her!
Last November I attended Grace’s graduation. She was graduating from an intensive inpatient AODA program where she not only graduated but was asked to join the staff as a live in house mom to be a mentor for the other women in the home. She had also re-established a relationship with her son, his father, and grandmother. She holds onto the hope of one day doing the same with her daughter. As they announced her name for graduation she called me forward and asked me to place her graduation necklace on her. That was a moment I will never forget! It will forever be a reminder to me that I can hold tight to the promise that God continues to walk with his children into full redemption!
Even though God doesn’t need me, he calls me to be to partner with him and be a part of their redemption too. How can I not say yes?!
*Names changed for privacy