In the last couple of days we’ve had the first real thunder storms in Lawrence. It has rained, crashed and flashed off and on for 2 days. Spring must finally be here. It was only last Monday, we woke up to snow!
We are busy this spring at Family Promise. We started the week with 3 families in rotation and 5 families in temporary housing. The oldest child in the rotational program is 3. We are interviewing, and received 9 calls from families inquiring about our services in April alone (today is April 3rd).
One of the rotation families, however, left the program this week. They tried the program for a couple of weeks, but found that the schedule, rigor and participation guidelines of the program were difficult for them to manage given their family logistics, getting to and from work on a night shift, negotiating the rotation with the little ones. Each year there are usually a couple of families that make a similar decision to not continue in the program.
This program doesn’t work for everyone.
It would be wonderful if we always ended each guest family stay with a successful graduation. That is not always the case.
It would be wonderful if we always started each family guest stay with the ease of merely filling out intake paperwork and enrolling. That is not the case.
The truth is that this program is hard. I often refer to the guests in Family Promise as heroes because they have made the very difficult decision to join the program and do the hard work necessary for the benefit of their family, whether for a week or two, or until they successfully graduate directly into housing. The parents persist day after day, visiting with new people each day, sharing meals, waking up before the birds and leaving the congregation at 6:30 every morning, coming to the day center where the hard work of job hunting begins, all the mountains of paperwork required by all the agencies that we network with, all while living in community with 3 other families, getting the kids to school, and trying to keep life to as much of a normal as is possible in the midst of all this activity.
But the same structure that can be so challenging, as is often the case in life, is also the same structure that brings such blessings. Yesterday morning, I was involved with a beautiful conversation between the remaining families, just debriefing after the 3rd family left. Processing the feelings, processing through their own difficulties, their own pain, and processing their own situations and stories together. I was involved only by listening and watching the beautiful support, grief and sharing unfold. In the midst of this anointed time of healing, I also heard such hope, such encouragement. I heard beautiful statements of hope thorough shared story after story of kindness in the congregations that had touched the hearts of the parents. I watched hope rebuilding.
When a family leaves the program prior to graduation, it is hard on all. There is a sadness to process through for the families that remain, for the staff and it is also hard for the volunteers. Becky reminded us all yesterday, of a passage that fits quite well for this period of processing through the many complicated feelings:
…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6 (niv)
The work we all do in this Family Promise network is for a short season. We are called to love well in that season. The seeds of hope will continue to be watered when a family leaves the program. The seeds the family left in each of us, will also continue to be watered. The “good work” is not ours, but it belongs to God. Therefore we can be thankful.