Over the years it has become more and more obvious that I find comfort and security in my bubble. My bubble is safe, clean, loving, nice, comfy, warm, secure, isolated and ignorant with blinders on. It’s easier to live in my own world thinking about my own issues and assuming that everyone else is the same. As an introvert, it would be so easy to go along life living in my bubble. However, being a follower of Jesus requires that we break out of our bubble and serve others. It requires that we walk through this life with our eyes open. For some, mostly extroverts, I think it comes easier. For others, it is uncomfortable to do, unnatural.
Today, I was definitely out of my bubble, my comfort. Jeff & I picked up Richard from the Salvation Army and took him to spend the afternoon with his daughter, “M”. I was told we were picking her up at her grandmother’s house because it was in a safer neighborhood than where “M” lives with her mom. As we drove into town, Richard was describing each passing neighborhood and which gangs lived in each. He told us where it wasn’t safe to even walk down the street. The police presence in the neighborhoods was obvious. We had one in front of us and one behind us. I turned and locked the doors hoping it wouldn’t make too much noise. I was so thankful that Richard was sitting in the backseat where the windows were tinted. It was strange how his demeanor and tone had changed as soon as we drove into town. As he was describing each area I tried to imagine what it would be like to grow up in that environment. The stress every day having to show no fear, having to be tough. He said that if he were still active in that lifestyle he would be sure his daughter was involved in the gang as early as 5. My eyes teared up so I made sure to look out my window until they cleared. As we drove up to the house I couldn’t help but feel nervous. It was an old single-story apartment building. The landscaping consisted of dirt, weeds, and trash. Some windows were boarded up and all the others had sheets or curtains all closed up. I was thankful that we were picking her up here if it was nicer than her home. As we knocked and walked in the cloud of smoke was overwhelming. I tried to take shallow breaths and made sure not to cough because I didn’t want them to think I was judging them. Little “M” was so happy to see her daddy. She’s almost 3 and doesn’t weigh more than 25lbs. She was a drug baby. She doesn’t speak yet but knows some sign language. She obviously has not had any form of structure or appropriate discipline yet. When we got there she was wearing a dress that was way to small, her hair hadn’t been combed and she was eating her first thing that day, a piece of american cheese. She ran to her daddy and wouldn’t let him put her down. She was covered in bruises and bite marks. My first thought was abuse but later in the car, I noticed she was biting her own leg. Her grandmother told us that she was a sweet little girl except when she was with her mother. My heart broke thinking about how her mother is an active gang member, drug user, currently pregnant again and a very angry person according to her own mother. Definitely not a good place for this precious little girl to grow up. As I looked around I noticed a few pieces of furniture that looked worse than what I’ve seen at the thrift store. My first thought was ‘too bad we gave some of those items to the rescue mission when we moved’. They would’ve fit perfect in this place. Then I was filled with guilt. I was judging. How dare I. Do people chose that lifestyle? Or is it just what they are used to? Finally, we grabbed the car seat and left. As soon as we got into the car “M” grabbed Richards arm and wouldn’t let go. I literally saw a gang member melt in my backseat. We decided to take them out to ice cream. When we sat down in our booth she sat down for about 1 minute. After that she was all over the place, under the table, on top of the table, around the table, running up and down the aisle, bugging the people sitting next to us. She was out of control. Poor Richard knows nothing about being a parent. This precious baby girl has probably never been out in public like this and had no idea how to behave. It wasn’t my place to step in, though I wanted to many times. As soon as the ice cream arrived we had hoped she would settle in and eat. Apparently, she didn’t know how to use silverware. She started licking off the whipped cream and left the rest. She climbed over and wanted each of us to feed her. My heart broke. I must say I did feed her as we all did but I just wanted to take her home and love on her. At one point Richard became frustrated and said he was just going to take her out and go across the street to the park so she could run around. I felt so bad for him. He doesn’t know the first thing about being a parent and seeing her only two times in the past five months was not enough to speak into her. Needless to say, the whole ice cream thing didn’t go so well. We asked for a container in order to take her ice cream home and I proceeded to make a bigger mess on the table trying to get it into the cup. I was becoming overwhelmed and I’m so glad they were across the street. Jeff went over to join them as I paid the bill. After the park, we drove around a bit in town. Richard showed us where his dad lives. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t even think to take pictures. It was a tiny shack on the outskirts of town. There was a chain link fence all around. The house couldn’t have been more than 20 feet wide. The one window in front was boarded up. Again, dirt landscaping. He couldn’t remember his dad’s cell phone number so we just drove on. We then drove over to his sister’s house. The neighborhood was so old and run down. He said you would definitely not want to walk down that street, even in the daytime. We drove up to a house that didn’t look inhabitable. It too was boarded up but soon after pulling up front, a heavy set woman came around the side. It was his sister. They hadn’t seen each other for years but there wasn’t that happy greeting you’d expect after not seeing someone you loved for a while. It was a short, very surfacey hello and then she began telling him about his other sister who is currently living in a motel strung out on meth. When I asked jeff about her later he said she was somewhat developmentally delayed and has a seven yr old autistic son with her. Wow! As she was talking I could see Richards face become more and angrier. When he got back into the car Jeff was able to calm him down and tell him that he had his daughter to think about. If Richard had acted out what he was feeling he explained how he would’ve gone over to the motel and seriously injured the drug dealer his sister was living with. When we got back to the grandmother’s house there was no answer. Inside I felt a panic thinking, ‘what are we going to do?’ Finally, a strange man opened the door. The grandmother was sleeping in her chair right next to the door but she was out. We came in and stood there for a minute before she woke up. Her speech was a bit slurred. I’m assuming she was either drunk or feeling a bad hangover. Little “M” climbed up onto the chair and curled up next to grandma. She was obviously used to snuggling up with her grandma as her grandma slept off a hangover. As we drove away, I couldn’t help but wonder how people could even want to live this way.
They party all night and sleep it off feeling lousy every day. Why? As soon as we dropped Richard back off at the Salvation Army I took a deep breath and cried. Why did God choose my family for me? It could’ve been me living in that environment. I began feeling guilty thinking about having to think about my grocery list or what I needed to do the next day. As soon as we got home I jumped in the shower. I don’t know why but I just felt so dirty. Then I cried for feeling that way. Wow…my bubble was rocked today. I am so blessed in so many ways but I am definitely blessed to have a husband that loves Jesus so much that he allows me to live in my bubble but he makes sure he breaks my bubble from time to time. He has such an incredible love for these guys and him, thank goodness, doesn’t live in a bubble. I am honored and humbled to be his wife. He is an amazing example of Jesus to me.