A little over 3 1/2 years ago I met a lady named, Felicity. I haven't written about her at all. She is often on my mind and I have cried many tears for her over the years. Meeting Felicity downtown Portland was a huge marker in my life. Her story and her life continue to speak to my heart and teach me about who Jesus is and it has broken me.
Let me share about her.
Our family was walking around downtown with some bags of snacks and water bottles one day. We were headed to where the Rescue Mission was and passed by the unemployment office. And right when I passed the doorway to the office, Felicity walked out, crying. My heart lurched for a second...I needed to do something. I stopped and asked her if she was okay and she just gushed with her sad story. I began to cry with her and at that moment the only thing I knew to do was hug her and pray with her. She knew of Jesus, but she had fallen hard and felt hopeless. Her kids had been taken from her, she had lost her job because she had started drinking again, the unemployment office couldn't help and she was selling herself.
After we talked and prayed together, she had to go but there was something about her that sunk deep. I couldn't stop thinking about her. And the only thing I could do was pray.
The next week, we had our dinner under the bridge with many homeless. An hour or so into our time downtown, Felicity walked up to get a meal!!! I was ecstatic and amazed that God would bring us together again. We talked and prayed again together and she shared that she wanted to try to get into Shepherd's Door (a program and shelter for women and children) but it was all the way across town and she didn't have money for bus fare. Easy. We got her bus fare for the next morning. I hoped and prayed that she would go. I called Shepherd's Door the next morning to check and see if she made it okay and Felicity was sitting in the waiting room right at that moment. Oh, praise the Lord! I was so excited for her and cheered for her, thanking Jesus for giving her strength to get there.
I wrote a letter to her a month later, but never heard back. And then visited Shepherd's Door a few months after that. Felicity had dropped out of the program.
What?! My heart sank. I grieved for Felicity. We prayed for her again.
I did not see Felicity again for over a year. Our family left on our trip around the country and we didn't know when we would be back to Portland.
We got back last June (have we really been home a year already?) and after we settled back into our home we drove our family to our old stomping grounds of downtown Portland. It felt good. The second time we returned, it was one of the hottest days of the summer. A bunch of us were walking around with ice cold water bottles for everyone who looked thirsty. As we walked back towards our car, we spot a large group of pretty bad lookin' fellas with a couple ladies. One of those ladies was Felicity. I ran to her and grabbed her hands. I looked at her and started to cry. Her legs were full of scratches, her eyes were glazed, she smelled, she looked dirty, but she remembered me and she remembered my name. She was with these guys who were most likely using her and giving her drugs. She started crying and as we both looked at each other, I asked her "Why? What are you doing here?" She just kept crying and saying she didn't know. My friend and I prayed for her again. I cried for her again. And then I released her again.
I have not seen Felicity since then. Whenever I am downtown I look for her and hope I might get another chance to hug her and tell her how much I love her and how much Jesus loves her. Jesus, please become real to her.
This is my testimony of His love for all of us. He longs for us and loves us so much that He will send other followers to find us when we are lost. He knows that I am broken, but He lets me love her and lets me feel His aching heart for Felicity. I can't love her without Him and He chose to love her through me. I am this fleshy, vulnerable, vessel of His and it hurts me to love.
I have desperately wanted to take Felicity away from the harsh world and keep her sheltered in my home. I really have thought about it. But I have also heard the words of His Spirit say, "You cannot save her, Serenity. That is My job. I know her and I will never push her into loving me back. She has to choose to love me."
Oh, that is so hard. To know that our Father gives us the freedom to choose who/what we love is amazing and horrific at the same time. Jesus, thank you for saving me, forgiving all of my sins and showing us how to live. Holy Spirit, teach me who my God is and keep me vulnerable. Father, thank you for loving me.