Monday, August 11, 2014

Cary

      When the doorbell rang at the parsonage at Northside Nazarene Church in Chicago I looked through the window to see who was there.  The pastor and his family were away and I had been given instructions on how to respond to visitors.  The young man outside looked like anyone that I might have known in college.  His clothes slightly wrinkled, but they were clean. His face showed about a days growth of stubble.  He took one last drag on his cigarette, exhaled, then snuffed it out on the porch with his tennis shoe. He looked into the glass window of the front door and straightened his hair a bit with his hand then pushed the buzzer.  Slowly, I made my way to the foyer of the house and turned the doorknob.
          “What can I do for you?”
          “Well, I’m kinda down on my luck lately and could really use a couple dollars for some food." 
        "I can't give you money,” I said abruptly, remembering the instructions the pastor had given
me before he had left. The man’s eyes dropped to the pavement. 
                                 “But I can make you a sandwich or something if you’d like,”
                        I added hopefully.
         
        His eyes came up to mine and he smiled, “That would be great!"
       "I'll have to ask you to wait outside, but it will only take a minute,”
I said and then rushed away toward the kitchen. He turned around and sat down on the step,
looking out across the street to the kids playing in front of the apartment building. In the kitchen,
I pieced together a roast beef sandwich, grabbed a couple cookies, some carrot sticks and an apple, put
it on a plate along with a can of soda and carried it out to the man on the porch.
        “Here you go,”
         “Thanks.”
         “You bet.”
          He ate ravenously. I tried not to notice. “So you’ve been having a rough time lately.”
         “Huh!?”
         “You said you were down on your luck.”
        “Oh yeah, “ he said between gulps of soda. “I lost my job, haven’t been able to pay the rent for my place and the landlord’s been on me.”
        “Oh,” I said. “I wish I could help you out a little more, but other than food, we’re not supposed to...I mean the pastor told us not to...anyway, I hope things go better for you soon.”
        “I’m Cary,” he said, brushing away the previous attempts at conversation while extending me his hand.
          I introduced myself, took his extended hand and shook it.
He got up to leave, tossing the apple in the air and catching it with the other hand, “Good sandwich!” he said as he disappeared around the corner of the building and headed down the alleyway.
I stepped back inside the parsonage and nervously paced around the room for a moment. Then I went to the living room, knelt down in front of the couch and began to pray.
      Dear God. Help me to understand a guy like Cary. He doesn’t look to be that much older than I am, and yet we’re worlds apart."  
      It was a couple weeks later when I saw Cary for the second time. Mike (my roommate) and I were asleep in the basement of the parsonage. It was a rainy, miserable, hot July evening when Cary came stumbling to the door of the parsonage. We helped him to the rear of the building and down the back steps. He was mumbling something about his landlady and thanked us profusely for helping him.
     We laid him down on the couch in the basement of the parsonage where Mike and I stayed. We covered him with a blanket and he immediately passed out. The light from the alleyway spilled through our basement window and as I lay awake in bed I watched this man toss and turn through a fitful night. I wondered what type of demons, real or imagined plagued him. His arms reached out in defense, his feet kicked and his whole body shuddered against unseen attacks for hours and then there were a few moments of stillness. I almost wondered if he had died, but then he gently turned, tucking the blanket about his neck and began to snore. I turned and sighed myself, whispering quietly a soft prayer on Cary’s behalf, asking God to keep those demons away, at least for a night so he might get a few hours of rest.
     The morning came bright white and courageous. There was hope in the sunshine and the evening’s rain that fell hard against the brick of the parsonage, left a cleansing wash upon the dirty alleys and black asphalt streets of Chicago. I had a cereal breakfast and headed for work. Mike and I worked opposite shifts at the Boy’s Club that week so Cary was with him in the morning, helping with the food pantry and then he was with me in the afternoon.
     The pastor allowed for Cary to stay with us, so long as he was sober. So we sat down with him and explained the situation. Over the next several days, Cary became a part of the family. He ate meals with us, went into work with us and slept on the couch down in the basement with us. Sometimes we went over to the church and prayed together, Mike played choruses on his guitar and we talked about Christ’s love, compassion and grace. Cary listened intently and asked lots of questions, but kept God arms length away, even though he sang with us through the choruses and hymns. Then one day, he was gone. All of us in the parsonage were uneasy with his disappearance.
      I think we all knew that even though Cary had been doing so well while living with us, that he still wasn’t strong enough to battle life on the streets alone. Weeks passed and none of us heard anything. Finally, one night when I came home late from the Boy’s Club I was met by Mike down in the basement and he gave me the bad news. It was about what I expected. Cary had shown up at the church during the middle of the day. It was very obvious he had been drinking and the pastor said that he couldn’t let him stay. Of course, that was a hard pill to swallow, but we all knew that the pastor was right. He had 2 young daughters to think about, and to let a young alcoholic that he barely knew stay in the same home as his family after breaking the simple house rules he had set up, really wasn’t wise. I knew that if it had been my choice, I would have done the same thing. Still, it was tough to imagine Cary back on the streets, sleeping in alley ways and begging food when we had just seen him a few days ago sleeping contentedly on our basement couch and eating Cocoa Puffs with the rest of the family at breakfast time.
        I went through all those guilt exercises that we do when we want so bad for something good to happen to someone we care about and instead something not so good happens. Was there something I could have said? Was there something I could have done? I’m pretty good at those exercises, but in the end, there was no question as to why Cary was back into what we had hoped he had left behind. He chose to go there. Still, I thought about the personal devils he was fighting inside. I considered the protected environment I had grown up in. I never had to face some of the choices that Cary had to. I wondered how my life might have been different were I forced to make some of those choices. If not for the grace of God...

       It was at least a month later, on a Monday when the front doorbuzzer sounded at the parsonage.  It was Cary. He looked much the same as that first time I met him. But this time, his speech was badly slurred and he smelled like stale beer. 
     “Hey Cary, where have you been?”
     “Around.”
     “It’s great to see you again. What have you been doing? We’ve all missed you.”
     “I’ve been around.”
     It was obvious he wasn’t into sharing what had gone on in his life since I last saw him. He was intent on something else. 
     “Can I borrow some money for some food?”
      It was not a comfortable situation. 
     “You know I can’t give you money Cary. If you want some food I can make you some lunch or we can walk down to the corner for Chinese.”
      “I don’t want lunch. Just give me a couple dollars. What’s five bucks to you?"
     Cary was getting more agitated as the conversation continued. He sort of pawed the ground with his sneakered shoes, talking into the pavement. 
     “Look, just give me the money and I’ll be outta here.”
     “I’m not going to do that. I can get you a sandwich in just a second...” I turned away from the door and headed for the kitchen, “Why don’t you come in and sit down..”
     “Forget it, I don’t want a ------- sandwich!” he turned and started down the parsonage steps, then spun back around and I met him at the door. His words spilled out like noises from a sputtering car engine. Anger, hurt, and alcohol made them come in short forced bursts,
      “Who do you think you are?” he said pointing at me through the screen door.
      “Who do you think you are? he repeated. “ You have no idea what it’s like to be me....No idea! You need to walk in my shoes ....See what it’s like on the streets. Who are you to judge me?!...You can’t judge me!...You don’t have a clue what it’s like to be me!”
     I tried to digest what he said. It would have been easy to cast it all aside and ignore him. He was  drunk. He didn’t know what he was talking about. Yet, somewhere deep in my heart I felt Christ calling me in a different direction. Before I could even think about it, these words fell out of my mouth,
     “You’re right Cary. I don’t know what it’s like to live like you. I don’t know what you go through each day. So here’s the deal. I’ll give you the five dollars, but if I do, you have to let me hang out with you today. Wherever you go, whatever you do for the rest of the day, you will take me with you, so I can learn a little more about what it’s like to be you. Deal?”
     It caught him by surprise. I’d like to say that this was part of some elaborate plan that I had thought through before that day and that I was only waiting for Cary to give me the opportunity to spring this on him. The truth is I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. When I spoke those words of challenge to Cary, I was surprised to hear them myself. They were more of a frustrated reaction to his statement that I was judging him without the right to do so, than a well planned response. He stared intensely back at me for a moment, then down at the pavement and shook his head.
      “I don’t care. If that’s what you want.”
     “I’ll be right back,” I said, walking into the house to get the money and my coat. My mind raced. Was this really a good idea? Somehow though, I knew it was right. There was a quiet peace in my heart, almost as if I could see light in a doorway that was closed before. 
      “O.K.” I said, pressing the five dollar bill into his hand, “Let’s go.”
We walked down the sidewalk to Damen Avenue where the “L” train stopped. Cary didn’t say anything at all, he just walked. We turned right on Damen, past the drycleaners and another small shop then just as I expected, stepped inside the liquor store. Cary hoisted 3 of the quart size bottles of Colt 45 onto the counter and laid out his money. I just stood quietly next to him. Then, once again, without a word we were on our way out the doors and headed back down Damen Avenue in the opposite direction of which we had just come. We went under the train platform and started toward the stairs on the side, but just before the stairs Cary turned right and headed down a gravel path that ran underneath the trestle. I had been up those stairs dozens of times and never noticed that path until then. I had a hunch there may be a lot of the North side of Chicago that I had never noticed before that would become familiar to me before the day was out. We were only about ten feet down that path however when Cary abruptly stopped and then spoke for the first time since we left the parsonage.
      “Okay, you’ve made your point. You showed that you really care, but you can go home now.”
     “I’m not going home, and I’m not trying to make a point. The way I see it, there’s a lot that you can teach me today. I really don’t know what it’s like to live like you. If it’s alright, I’d rather stay with you. If you want me to go home, I will, but this isn’t about the five dollars okay!?”
      He handed me the bag with two of the beer bottles inside, then took the third, unscrewed the top and took a swig, “You want some?” he said, offering me the bottle.
       “No thanks.”
       He took another drink, looked at me, with a smug smile and headed down the path again. We stayed under the train trestle for about half a mile or so. I would never have imagined that you could walk that far in Chicago without walking on any concrete, but the whole way was almost like a nature walk. There were small trees and bushes lining the path, and birds flitted across the way before us. All the while that we walked we stayed directly beneath the train route through the Northside.

      It was a silent march. Periodically, I would glance down an alleyway and get a glimpse of street signs or a store front, a few of the times I saw something recognizable to help me gauge where we were. It’s an odd thing to be just a few yards from roads and sidewalks that you’ve traveled many times, and still feel as though you’re in a foreign land. It made me wonder just how much I missed when I walked down those sidewalks. There’s a removed safety in staying to those sidewalks that I had always known and yet never really paid any attention to before.
      Now we came to a sort of clearing. It was almost like a meadow in the middle of a forest, except in this case instead of being encircled by trees we were surrounded by brick and mortar apartment buildings. There were a couple; three scattered railroad ties on the gravel and dust covered ground, bushes, some small trees and some tossed beer cans and liquor bottles. Cary stopped in front of a large rock, motioned for me to stop as he unscrewed the cap of his bottle and took a deep drink then wiped his mouth with his sleeve and sat down at the rock. I sat on one of the old railroad ties and had just found my seat when a voice hollered from the path we had just come down.
     “Cary my man, is that you?”
     In seconds a face appeared, peeking around the bushes that lined the trail. A smile sprang to Cary’s face and he jumped to his feet to greet the visitor.
    “Damn, it’s good to see you. I’ve been worried about you man. I heard your landlady booted you...thought you had no place to go...then I heard about Jerome, man what a sorry story there.”
        He was much older than either of us were. He looked to be in his fifties. A younger man stood next to him. He was taller than all of us and very thin. He had jet black hair, a moustache and was wearing a simple white t-shirt, blue jeans and some old black sneakers. There was a tattoo on his right shoulder that looked like a horse from where I was sitting. Both were white. The older man wore blue jeans, work boots and a button-up shirt. His hair was in a pony tail that fell out the back of the Cubs ballcap he wore. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from the jean jacket that had been slung over his shoulder,
      “Say bud, if you give me a chance at the booze I can share some smokes. Hey Cary, who is your friend?”
        I stepped over to the three men and introduced myself, setting the other two bottles of beer down in front of them. He offered me a cigarette. 
        “What happened to Jerome?” Cary asked as the three passed around the bottle.
      “Well,” began the older man, “I don’t know everything, but I do know he’s in the hospital; almost died I guess. It’s gettin’ pretty tough downtown these days. Someone tried to rip him off his food stamps. It was some new guy in town that Jerome was with...You gotta watch your back when it’s people ya don’t know. Anyway, Jerome wouldn’t give up the food stamps and so the jerk sticks him in the ribs. Like I said, he’s damn lucky to be alive.”
      “Where’s he now?”
      “Cook’s. We’re gonna go see him today. Wanna come with us?”
      “I got some stuff I have to take care of with my landlady,” Cary answered.
    “With your landlady? Why don’t you just give that up and take the streets with us again? We’re thinkin’ about jumpin’ the train for Boston in a few days...”
      Cary didn’t respond, he just tipped back the bottle then passed it on. Soon they were done with the first bottle and we were all seated in a circle. Like a bunch of farmers in the field talking about crop rotations. Only the topics of conversation were not about farming. The bottle had passed me several times. I simply handed it to the next guy in line.  We laughed together about the Cubs (I think everyone laughs about the Cubs sometime) and other things. Occasionally, the conversation would turn more serious especially when talking about some of the dangerous aspects of the street. The two men I didn’t know were completely accepting of me.  From what I could understand, my acceptance came on the sole basis of Cary’s endorsement when we first arrived, “He’s a friend I met at the food pantry at the Northside Church.”
     I was amazed that it took so little to gain their confidence. There was a sense that I was immediate family. The two men took Cary and I through a list of people that only Cary knew, and he nodded acknowledgement of who they were each time a name was mentioned, then both men would proceed to give a short biography on what had been happening in said person’s life over the past few days or weeks. It was hard for me to understand all the two were sharing in respect to places that they were talking about. Some of the people had interesting names like, “Snowman”, “Dr. Jekyll” and “Mad Margaret”, and others were more regular like Bobby and Mary. It reminded me of a family reunion, when relatives you haven’t seen for some time come together and you play the “catch-up-on -the-name-game” finding out what has gone on in an aunt or cousin’s life since you last saw each other. We must have stayed there for at least a couple hours, but the time went by very quickly and comfortably. It was almost as if the whole city of Chicago, and the six million or so people who live in it had disappeared for a bit and left us alone to sit there in the “park” and have this time together. Finally though, each man took one last drag on their cigarette and one at a time snuffed them out on the ground. There was a round of handshakes, pats on the back, a chorus of, “take care of yourselfs” then the two men left Cary and I alone.
     “They seemed like some pretty good guys,” I offered.
     “Yeah. We all kinda look out for each other on the street.”
     “Do you know that Jerome guy very well?”
     “Yeah. He lived with me for awhile. He’s gay. Just a young guy, 18 or 19, he’s not so careful about who he’s with sometimes. I kinda thought it could catch up to him someday. People who would kill you for a few bucks or for food, or just for the fun of it...they’re out there...straight up.”
     I nodded my head and looked around at the quiet place where I was standing and tried to imagine what it would be like to sleep there, huddled up in an old blanket and a bottle. I guess what struck me the most was the uncertainty of it all. I can’t remember a day of my life where I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping that night. I can’t remember ever wondering if there would be food for dinner, or clean clothes to put on. There were so many assumed conveniences in my life. 
     Cary reached down and picked up the remaining two bottles of beer and looked me in the eye.
O.K. So are you going home now?”
    “Huh,” I said, still in thought.
    “I said, are you going to go home now?”
    “No. I’m with you all day. Remember!?”
    Cary looked at me with a somewhat surprised look, tilted his head and sighed, then spun around and started off down the trail again.

     We had gone about twenty paces when I caught him by the shoulder and asked, “Where are we headed now?”
      “I’m goin’ back to my apartment. Gonna see if she’s locked me out again.”
      “Why would she lock you out?”
   “I haven’t paid the rent for 3 weeks. I’m on a week to week deal. She knows I’ll get it      though...straight up...I’m good for it. I can’t go back on the streets though, I’ll do anything...I just can’t go back, I won’t survive there.” 
      He looked me in the eyes and I could see the seriousness in his stare. I saw something else in his eyes too, something behind the glassy, bloodshot whites. You could almost see the absence of hope. I can’t really explain it but it was there, or rather it wasn’t there. No hope. It made his eyes almost gray; it made me look away. He turned and marched on.
     “Those guys back there, they were alright.”
    “Tom and Charlie?”
    “I guess. I don’t remember them ever saying their names. But they seemed to be good guys.”
    “Well, “ Cary started with a small smile, “They’re pretty cool most the time but they can get kinda dark if they’re tanked.”
     “Most people can if their drunk,” I said.
    We walked on silently for the next several minutes. I can’t say how far we walked, but it took about an hour or so. The only time we stopped was so that Cary could take a drink. We turned out of the path and it opened onto an alleyway between two large, red-brick apartment buildings. Shadows fell into the alley, the sun was beginning to set. There was a busy street up ahead. We walked toward it. Trash cans and dumpsters lined the dark walk. Trash piled overtop many of them; empty cereal boxes, dirty diapers and crushed beer and soda cans fell onto the pavement. We walked on.
     When we came to the head street I recognized it to be Damen Ave. We threaded between traffic. Cary was weaving a little as he walked. It made me nervous. When we got to the other side of the street we walked down a short driveway and behind a house that faced the street. There was a short stair in the back that led to the second floor of the house. Up the stairs onto a small landing. Cary set down the beer and reached into his pocket. He pulled out his key and moved an unsteady hand to the lock on the door. After a couple seconds he found the the keyhole and unlocked the door. He pushed it open and the two of us stepped inside. It was a tiny living space. A bed, a sink, a small dresser and a toilet, it was all crammed into about a twelve by twelve area. It was clean and tidy though. A bar of soap at the sink. A lamp on the dresser. Cary sat his beer next to the lamp. The second bottle was nearly gone. He pulled a large knife out of another pocket and set it next to the beer, then his wallet and the change from the five I had given him next to that. He drank the last swallow of the second bottle then set it next to the other. He walked over next to the bed and slumped onto it. I pulled a chair from in front of the dresser and sat down .

      A few moments of awkward silence passed, and then I heard Cary begin to quietly cry. His head was buried in his hands.
      “What are you still here for?” he began.
      “You stuck it out all the way. When are you going home? Why can’t you leave me alone?”
     I really didn’t know what to say. I didn’t feel as though I had accomplished much. It was like winning a bet that had no prize. Then, in a slowfooted way I began to stumble onto God’s plan for this entire day. Words began to tumble out of my mouth that I didn’t even think about before I heard them myself.
     “Why do you drink Cary?”
He sat up on the bed and stared at me. His bloodshot eyes wet with tears. His hands shook. His face contorted with pain.
    “How old do you think I am?...How old do I look to you?...I’m 26 years old, and I feel like I’m 56. I’ve been drinking hard since I was 15 or 16......and I can’t tell you what I’ve done just to get a drink.”
My eyes were fixed on him, he was pacing back and forth on the other side of the bed like he was caged. Something was tearing at his insides.
     “I don’t have to know what you’ve done Cary, it just doesn’t matter to me. I just want to tell you that...”
      He cut into me mid-sentence and stepped up to where I was seated, reaching up to his hair with both hands, tormented, “I’ve been with men,” he spat out at me, “I mean, old men,..... dirty men....I think I killed someone once,” tears were streaming down his face. “I’ve lied to people...family....my parents. I slept in sewer, I can’t live with it anymore...I think I’m gonna die...” he broke off in sobs face down on the bed.
      I sat in my chair. I looked at Cary. I thought about my life. For a brief second I considered the extent of my life’s sorrow. I looked at Cary. For the first time in my Christian experience all of the stuff that I wanted to say about God’s unconditional love, his great understanding and compassion. It all sounded so hollow in my thoughts. Could God really help this guy? Inside I could hear a voice telling me not to share with him about Jesus. The voice was stabbing at my gut with guilt and shame. It was asking questions like, “What happens to this poor guy if Jesus can’t help him? Just another disappointment in a series for him? ....Maybe the last disappointment... The last one he can take. Better just leave and go home like he said.”
      For a moment I didn’t say anything. Then I felt as if the former voice was superceded by another and what I was hearing now, simply said, “Let me worry about whether or not Cary’s problems are too big to handle. It’s your place to tell him about me.”
      And so I began to share with him about Jesus’ compassion and His love. The words still felt forced,  and whether it came through to Cary or not, there was a lack of assurance in my words that I could feel was there.
     “Cary, God loves you. He doesn’t care about what you’ve done. He wants to help you get through today and build on tomorrow. There’s no sin too wicked or dark that can’t be forgiven.”
     He just continued to weep. I was trying to drum up some confidence in my heart. I took a deep breath and released it then started again.
     “Cary, tell me about how you got started drinking. Tell me why you can’t quit. What kind of hold does it have on your life?”
     “I can’t.”
     “Yes you can. I’m not going anywhere and I promise I won’t be shocked or disappointed in you.” Wishful thinking. I had no idea what might be coming next; no clue as to what had turned this young man into an old man sobbing into his pillow, fighting to stay off the streets in Northside Chicago.
He sat up slowly, then swung his legs over the side of the bed, stood up again, and began pacing. He was holding his head in his hands like he had some huge headache. I could tell there was a great battle going on in his heart, and silently I began to pray, still looking at him the whole time, watching him pace. Then he stopped and walked over to me again. His mouth quivered for a second as he stared darts into me; wondering if he was safe. Then he began,
     “When I was thirteen years old, I went with my family to the beach. It was a really nice day, we were all having a great time, “ as the words came from his mouth, emotion ran across his face. In the description of the day a trace of joy in his eyes, and as he continued the joy ran to hurt and tears welled.
     “My brother and me, we were having a catch with the football. The sun was warm. We decided to go for a swim. So I went into a changing room,” his eyes flashed anger, hurt and shame. Tears streamed down his face and his jaw tightened. He turned his face away.
     “What happened Cary? What happened in the changing room?”
He faced me. His voice shook with the bitterness of thirteen years worth of secrecy born in shame,
     “It was my fault...I never should have let it happen... I shoulda just killed myself..”
     “Cary what happened!?”
     “He raped me...some dirty old man.... He pushed me into the back and raped me. And I never did nothing about it. I just went out and had a swim.”
    “You didn’t say anything about what happened to anyone?” I asked, imagining the desperate emotion that must have been flowing through the mind of a thirteen year-old boy.
      “No.”
      “Why Cary? Why didn’t you tell anyone?”
      Now his words were angry, “Because it was my fault.”
      “It was your fault? How could it have been your fault?”
    “Because I was too weak. It would never have happened to my brother. Rollie was an all-state football player, he’s strong, everyone loved him, nobody could have done something like that to him. I’m weak,..maybe I wanted it to happen...it was my fault.”
     If I didn’t audibly groan in pain, I know I felt like it. I wanted to give him something. Something more than words. Again, the promise of Jesus’ caring and grace seemed insufficient, but I kept after it, trying to not let the uncertainty in my heart bleed through the words I was sharing. As I continued, Cary struggled to listen.
      I pledged to Cary that God’s grace was great enough to cover all his hurts. I did my best to explain to him that the Father did not see any blame on his head because of what happened one day in a dark place to a young boy, desperate and afraid. He continued to cry, falling face first into his bed again, sobbing. I patted his back and began to pray.
    A few moments later, the sun had completely set, I said, “amen”, and Cary’s eyes went shut. The emotion and alcohol had spent his energy. I quietly let myself out the door, locking it behind me. Down the stairs and through the alley and back to Damen avenue; all the way home I thought about what had just taken place that day. I had learned so much. So much about Cary. So much about life outside my frame of reference, but also so much about myself, and my concepts of Christ’s healing power, and the parameters I placed around it.
      I never had another chance to speak with Cary. I went by the apartment a week later only to meet the landlady after knocking on the door. He had left the house. The lady thought that he had checked into a detox center, she didn’t know which one. About a month after that, I was traveling through the Uptown on a transit bus. It was a hot August afternoon. I lifted my head up, looked to my right, and out the window. There, not more than ten feet away, on a bus headed in the opposite direction was Cary. He caught my glance just as the bus began to pull away. A giant smile covered his face. He waved frantically and tried to shout at me through the window as the two buses pulled away from each other. He looked good. He looked clean, and not just on the outside. There was a joy that seemed to emanate from him. I watched behind, until the bus was out of sight.

      I look back on my relationship with Cary from a lot of different perspectives. I have never struggled in sharing my Jesus with someone the way I did with Cary. Yet, I have a settledness that Christ was never-the-less faithful. It was my insufficiency that had to be dealt with on that day, not the Savior’s. In my heart I want to picture Cary forever as I saw him on the bus. I expect to see him in heaven when I get there. Still, some questions stay with me from those days in Chicago.
     Was it God’s plan to place me in Cary’s life to help him, or vice-versa? I suppose looking back, it was God’s plan for both of us to learn some things about who He was that brought us together.  Unless I work at it, I have found that I am completely capable of seeing life through faithless eyes. I know that He loves me anyway, but my sense is that there are a lot more people in this world who, “feel like their 56 years old”, even though they are actually much younger. I must be able to believe that the Jesus who breathed new life into me, is their Jesus too, and that truly there are no boundaries to His saving grace.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 - The new KJV