Taking up Home in My Heart by Andrea Meredith, Director of Outreach

heartheader3

There is a phenomenon that happens within the community of Our Beautiful Exchange: ladies I’ve only known a short time or barely know – some I have not yet met in person –  take up home in my heart.

I have spent a great deal of time with some of these sisters  – over meals, in the car, grocery shopping, in their living rooms, and so on – so it makes sense to me that they would often come to mind. And hold a spot in my heart reserved for those I deeply care about, and with whom I do everyday life.

Yet there are several I only get to see briefly, maybe once a month, and still others I’ve heard of but haven’t met yet. None of these sisters have been part of my life for even a year, but wow, they most definitely have taken up home in my heart!

I’m not the only one who has experienced this. After a spa day where our lovely volunteers spent a few hours pampering our sisters, many of whom they had just met, one volunteer said “I don’t know why, but I can’t get these ladies off my mind!” I knew exactly what she meant.

Throughout my day, I often find myself wondering how each of them are doing, whether they’re going to work that night, what their children are eating for dinner, how they are dealing with struggles they’ve entrusted to my knowledge. I wake up sometimes at night burdened with their burdens and dreaming their dreams. I find myself voluntarily filling as much of my free time as I can with coffees and meals with these sisters and their children. In the faces of strangers while out in public, I see the faces of girls I’ve only met once or twice during outreach visits.

Each sister I’ve met through OurBE is kept in my heart…in her home in my heart. Each one has a safe place there…a place where she can be real and vulnerable, a place where she is seen and loved, a place where she is protected with prayer, a place where she matters and is considered often. Her passions and dreams are hoped for in my heart’s home. Her pain is felt. Her joy is celebrated.

The vision of OurBE is to be a community of love and hope, to support and provide opportunities to ladies who are out or transitioning out of the commercial sex industry and/or have experienced sexual abuse or trauma. This community isn’t always tangible. It isn’t always observable, and sometimes these ladies may not even know they’ve been welcomed into it. And yet, they have been! These sisters have homes in our hearts…our community includes them and cares for them in ways they may never be aware of.

Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” and I can’t help but think one way He manifests this blessing is through the homes in our hearts. I do not believe God brought the ‘poor in spirit’ status upon our sisters, but I do believe He has something special in store for each of them despite that because He is especially fond of each one.

And part of that something special may just be that they now have part of His Kingdom surrounding them, seeing them, looking out for them, comforting them, knowing them, and showing up for them.

It’s a blessing to be part of this community, this Kingdom, this phenomenon!!