by Tina Stone
Misty learns the value of looking outward rather than inward.
|Word Count: 1,184
"Walking with a friend in the dark
is better than walking alone in the light."
-- Helen Keller
This was not how things were supposed to be. Somehow, somewhere something had gone very wrong and now, rather than being independent and free, Misty had no choice but to accept the charity of these people. When she had escaped her husband nearly a week ago and fled in whiteout conditions and drove from Wisconsin to Indiana she had felt so sure she was acting on the nudgings of God.
She got a dirt-cheap room that reeked of mold, smoke, and body odor and for four days put in every job application she could get her hands on. The wheels of the hiring process were so slow! No one, not one single person called her back. By the end of the week, she dared not spend what little she had left on the cost of a room.
Misty and her cat would have to make do with living in the van. Only, it was dropping down and frosting at night. She had blankets and she tried to stay as warm as possible. During the day, she continued searching for work. She was growing desperate and she was developing a cough, which did not help matters.
Nearly a week of living in her van found her at the ER, where she was diagnosed with double ear infections and pneumonia. The hospital's social worker paid her a visit and she had to admit she was in well over her head and needed help. The social worker made some calls and before she knew it, she found herself here.
A hidden, domestic violence shelter in the middle of some city she never heard of. Being told by people she didn't know, how to run her own life. She did not belong here! She was not a victim. She had God! Surely any moment now he would swoop in and rescue her from this humility. The people around her were much worse off than she was. She was not like them.
She used her illness to stay hidden in her room and only went out when she had to. She had to go out to prepare her own meals. Misty had to attend group and individual therapy, she, like all other residents, had daily chores to complete. She didn't talk or smile or interact with anyone unless she was asked a direct question.
One morning, there was a knock on her door. A woman, in her middle twenties and the mother of three boys, stood there. She apologized profusely at having disturbed her. The woman's name was Emily and she begged for her to listen. She had to go to court and while her two older boys were in school, the girl who had agreed to watch her youngest had bailed on her and she was desperate. She offered to pay Misty if she would just look after the baby until she could get back.
Misty did not want to do it. She just wanted to be left alone to wait for God to hurry up and get her out of this place. But, she looked at the little boy in the stroller and her heart melted just a fraction. He was a special needs baby. His Mom pulled his shirt up and showed Misty his feeding tube. He had to eat every two hours and if he didn't eat, a very specific amount of milk needed to be put in his feeding tube. He was diabetic and his blood sugar would drop quickly. She left Misty his diabetic testing supplies, formula, and other supplies and assured her she would only be gone a few hours.
She had always loved children and her and the boy hit it off. They giggled and sang little songs, played with toys, and time flew by. Before she knew it, His Mom was back. His Mom looked tired and stressed. Her other boys would be back any minute so she didn't linger long but once they had left, Misty's room seemed unusually empty.
Where she had once sought refuge and comfort, now felt stifling and well, empty. Later that evening she went to the main kitchen area to prepare her meal and another lady who had a two-year-old girl approached her and said she had heard Misty had babysat for Emily and was wondering if Misty would watch her two years old while she went out the next day to put in job applications. This time, Misty quickly agreed.
It wasn't long before most of the women who had children were asking Misty to watch their children. It was not easy taking your small children to court, or welfare offices, or to go pick up or return job applications and the shelter did not offer child care to the women while they did these things. Little by little, Misty got to know these women and their children. They were not so unlike her after all.
In her room one night, as she prayed, she suddenly realized she had stopped demanding and begging God to get her out of here. She instead was praying for the other women and the children. They had become her friends when she really didn't realize it was even happening. Suddenly, it struck her. A revelation that left her head spinning.
What if, she had not been put here as a punishment. or because God had forgotten her? What if, God had led her to this point because He knew these women needed someone they could trust with their children? What if, Misty had been put there as an answer to one or more of those lady's prayers? What if, being here was not about her at all?
Suddenly, Misty loved being there. She saw that the women were exhausted, stressed, and hurt. God opened her eyes and her heart to these women. After dealing with long lines at welfare offices, dealing with red-tape, courts, lawyers, job searching, pounding the streets doing what they had to so they could build a better life for their children, they would return to the shelter. They would do what they shelter staff required of them, take care of their children, and cook their meals.
So, after talking to the shelter staff and getting the OK, Misty cooked a meal large enough to feed everyone. She found spare sheets and used them as table cloths and she helped the children make simple tissue paper flowers for the tables. When the women walked in thinking they were going to have to cook, they were shocked.
Misty greeted them with a smile and everyone sat down and at family-style. The women were so thankful and the children proud they had helped, made it all the more enjoyable. Suddenly, Misty was very thankful that she had ended up being placed here. She had found a purpose and made new friends. She realized she wasn't so different from any of them. Suddenly, the whole tangled mess she thought she had been stuck in, seemed much more like divine intervention.