Take Heart.

Today has been one of those days- one of the ones where the weight of the world feels heavy…like, so incredibly heavy. It started this morning as I was walking to a meeting on the earlier side of the AM and found myself feeling physically impacted by how many people I saw still sound asleep on the pavement. My chest felt heavy, my shoulders weak and each step felt like wading through swampy waters. As I neared closer to my destination I heard someone call my name- not “baby” or “white girl,” as are often the monikers hollered at me on this particular street, but my actual name. I looked down to find Mr. Harvey, a man who I’d spent my first 4 years with here on Skid Row. This man holds a special place in my heart as our first meeting was while I was doing outreach, looking for specifically for him at 4:30 in the morning on his birthday…which happens to be mine too. This commonality bonded us instantly.

At first glance Mr. Harvey and I have absolutely nothing in common- he is an older black man with a severe mental illness and a catalog of memories that I can’t even begin to imagine. But as he stated this morning, the uniqueness of the day we met, “our day” remains imprinted on us both.

It’s been a couple of years since working with the program that Mr. Harvey was in and I’d since heard that he’d left, but I never knew why- to be honest, I am not sure he does either. Seeing him this morning snapped something in me. As I sat down next to him, noticing his missing shoe I couldn’t stop the flood that felt like one thousand pounds of grief- grief for Mr. Harvey, grief for multitude of other men and women on the street, grief for the broken systems and hearts that got them there.

I’m supposed to be stronger than this, I thought.

I walked away feeling very, very human; limited, defeated, overwhelmed and as I often find myself doing, began to calculate what it would look like to get every single person off the streets into a home. Mid-calculation however, my thoughts were interrupted with another, In this world you will have trouble, but TAKE HEART, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I stopped.

That’s it.

That’s all of it.

It has to be it.

I have mentioned before my struggles with doubt and continuous questioning of just about anything I can get my hands on, but I believe these words. I have to believe these words. Because if I don’t, nothing else makes sense to me. Love, justice, peace- none of these add up without these words. I have to believe that when God says that he is bigger than all of this mess, that He means it. I have to believe that there is something more going on than what my brain and my eyes can see.

I have to.

And so I will. I will grit my teeth and dig in my heels- I will keep fighting. It may be through tears, it may come with screams and there’s a good chance there’ll be a few of swear words, but today I will cling to this truth like a life raft in a storm; take heart.

12 thoughts on “Take Heart.

  1. So true, Rachel. Its true for us in medicine, too. Its always fighting an uphill battle, at best. But that truth has certainly held me in times of doubt. And not just professionally. Even in my personal life. Like last week. The last 4 months. In the past, its kept the depression and pain at bay just long enough to keep myself alive one more day. And then the next. Its one of the most powerful and truly royal things I think God has ever said… If I don’t trust that, I think my world would just spin out of control. Its little anchor points that loom large when we feel ourselves slipping.

    Thanks again for sharing bravely. Taking a few moments right now to pray for Mr. Harvey. And for you.


  2. Hi Rachel, I’m sitting here in the car waiting for Bill and read your post. You’re such a strong and loving advocate to people. After I read it I looked out the car window and saw this on someone’s fence. The timing was perfect!

    Kathy sanders

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. You are on a pilgrimage with Christ and it makes sense that you would have to stop and grieve, just as he did as he struggled to carry the beam of his cross up the hill to Golgotha…may He send you a fellow pilgrim, to carry some of your burden.


  4. It made me cry a little too. But in a good way. 😊 Thank you for sharing your weight and your faith that Jesus has already overcome. I am constantly having to remember that.


    1. Okay fine Shea, maaaaybe we will get along after all…even if you have a pact with the devil’s baseball team. I should warn you, anytime someone starts to cry, mentions they they cried, sneezes and tears fill their eyes- I tear up. It’s kind of like a cool party trick except really uncomfortable sometimes.


      1. Hahaha! Noted. Now I’ll be spending the next 3 months mastering crying on demand why going through the Giants roster. Should elicit a fun response. 😉


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