Many of the families we serve at the food pantry are extremely reluctant to be there. They are upset about not providing for their families or are embarrassed to be there and will only come when things are really hard. Often I will encourage them to come a month or two past when they feel in true need so that they can have a little money set aside for emergencies. This is frequently met with a “Oh, I can’t do that.” I then explain that we do not want to be here only as a last resort and be associated with things being really bad. Our hope is that we can support each family through the difficult moments until they are truly in a good place. In December I wrote about a woman who at the beginning of our conversation was not sure she believed in God but by the end said she had hope. She would fall into the reluctant category. So I was not sure if our paths would ever cross again. Some encounters with the families we speak with at the food pantry stay with us. I am left with a desire to follow up to see how things are going. Meeting her was one of these times.
I had seen the woman I spoke with in March but I was taking care of something and unable to say hi before her order was ready. She had a bit of a sad posture again when I looked over so I said a prayer for her and her son. The following month I saw her again. I figured things must not be going well for her to visit us two months in a row. I did not meet with her as her advocate but I just finished my shift and had a few minutes to say hello while she was shopping. I was met with a smile and I saw you last month and wanted to say hi but you were busy. Followed by, “You would not believe what happened…. My husband and I reconciled! If you would have told me a month ago that we would be back together after 14 months of separation I would not have believed it.” I did not realize she was still married in our first conversation. Apparently, her son had starting having some difficulty with a few classes. In the past he had been an A student in honors classes but now one of the teachers was recommending he switch to regular instead of honors in her subject. This got the woman I was talking to thinking about what had changed in the past year and possible reasons her son was struggling. She thought about the reasons she was separated from her husband and they did not seem as big or important anymore. Her heart had softened and she was very excited about starting again with her husband!
The woman got a little bit quiet again as she shared about a possible job she had just interviewed for. She had a couple jobs that did not work out since we last spoke but this was the first long term possibility. She felt it lined up very well with her experience as well as her skills and was interviewed by several different people within the office already. I was having trouble figuring out why she seemed tentative as we talked. Especially when she talked about how nice the woman who would be her boss was. From the sound of everything she said the job was hers once she passed a written evaluation. As the conversation progressed we figured out she was scared to be excited. This was the first really good possibility in months and she did not want to hope and be disappointed. As our discussion about the job possibility continued I got to see her becoming hopeful when she realized the reason she was trying to find fault with the job is fear of not getting it. She looked much more at peace then. We ended the conversation focusing on the future with her husband and hopefully about a job prospect. She left walking with her head up and smiling! God answers the prayers for our families in amazing ways.
Head Food Pantry Advocate