Not your name, but who are you, in your heart?
That’s what I have been pondering since I met “Miss Wilma” yesterday at a place where I volunteer three hours a week. I volunteer for an organization that helps people in crises with food, medicine, utilities, heating fuel, and rent. It’s a hard gig for me. I interview and collect financial information, verify stories, and then advocate for the client. The next tier says yea or nay to giving the help. Some of the clients have a true crisis. Others want a handout. I hate when to have to go back and tell the client their request has been denied. As I said, it’s hard.
Sometimes gathering enough information is a matter of asking the right questions, asking enough questions, or wording the questions in the right way to get the full story. I have been seriously disheartened, and have even left my shift in tears, feeling the helplessness and hopelessness of some of those people.
Yesterday was different. Yesterday, I looked into the face of Jesus.
She was a 50-something year-old mentally and physically disabled homeless black woman, and she was taking charge of her life. Miss Wilma was asking for some financial help to become independent. As I asked the standard questions, she began to talk, and I just put my pen down to listen.
Miss Wilma said her case-manager at the shelter asked her who she was, not her name, but who she was, in her heart. She told me how much God had blessed her, and how He had taken care of her. She told me how she was trying to learn the lessons God was teaching her, to live everyday by putting others first, and how she never dreamed it, but that she was a role model for the young girls down at the shelter.
Miss Wilma was joyful. I was there to help her, but as it is so often with volunteering, I was the one who was helped. She gave me much to ponder. It doesn’t matter how little or how much you have, if you don’t have love in your heart, you don’t have anything. Gratitude and love have no boundaries. I learned how important it is to stand for something. Everyone needs beliefs. She made me think…deeply.
Miss Wilma knows who she is… a “protector of animals.” I wish I knew more clearly who I am. I am going to keep studying the question. For right now, though, I have concluded I am “a work in progress.”