Today, I encountered Deborah at a gas station on Hollywood beach. She was really thin, she seemed distraught, hungry perhaps? She walked over to me and asked me for money. Quite honestly I didn’t want to give her any cash, because I really didn’t know what she was going to do with the money. I asked her if she was hungry, and offered to buy her food, and she said no. We started talking and as she was telling me about her cat, I noticed trace marks up and down her arms. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me, “invite her to sit with you.” She sat down on the bench next to me, and I listened as she told me a little bit about her story. She was alone, divorced from her husband who physically abused her. She had seven kids who wanted nothing to do with her. I asked her if she had a place to live, and she told me she lived with an old lady. They had an agreement. She took care of her cat, and the old lady made sure to feed her every once in a while. She continued to tell me bits and pieces of her story. Her daughter died at the age of sixteen, she was murdered. And the man who murdered her took his own life as well. Deborah knew all about Jesus. She was a believer, once upon a time. She lost her way a while back. “God’s not done with you yet,” I told her as I looked deep into her eyes. “You might’ve turned your back on him, but he’s waiting for you with open arms. It’s not a coincidence we met today. He’s calling you home.” I told her. She listened, and even though she seemed high or distraught, tears welled up in her eyes. I asked her if I could pray for her, and she said yes. I hugged her, and I told her I loved her. She hugged me, and she called me an angel. I can’t stop thinking about Deborah. My heart aches for her. The pain she felt was palpable. I know what it’s like to lose everything and feel hopeless. I shared with her a bit of my testimony. As I’m sitting here typing this, my heart hurts. (not figuratively) How many times do we get so wrapped up in our first- world problems, especially as believers, that we miss the context. Charlie, a character from one of my favorite books ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ once said, “There is so much pain and I don’t know how not to notice it.” I remember when I was younger and we would drive by a bad neighborhood in the Bronx, there was always a homeless person with a sign saying “feed me,” or “retired veteran with nothing to eat.” One day specifically I remember crying in the back of the car. The man was missing a leg. It was pure winter and he had a ripped up coat. I reached into my purse and grabbed the $3 allowance I had received from my parents and lowered the window. My step-dad quickly turned up the window and drove away. I was so upset I started screaming, “WHY CAN’T WE HELP HIM???!!!” My stepdad looked into the car’s rearview mirror and told me, “I offered to buy him food last week, and he refused. Moments later, I saw him doing things he wasn’t supposed to. Just trust me on this. We can’t fuel his addiction.” I didn’t understand. My 11-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend why people were homeless. Didn’t they have a family? anyone who loved or cared for them? I cried all the way home. Twelve years later not much has changed. Growing up, I always thought caring so much for people was going to be the death of me. I loved with every ounce, even if it meant losing myself in the process. I remember asking God why he made me this way. Why did I have to care so much? About everything? To the point that it hurt. I understand now that I serve a steadfast God. A God who’s divine plan is greater than the eye can see. Yes, there’s a lot of pain in this world. And I can’t tell you how many people God has brought into my life where I’ve had to love, encourage, and uplift them when I didn’t have the strength too. Most of them were and are struggling with addiction. It dawned on me today. I’m not eleven years old and hopeless anymore. Praying for Deborah today, I got a grasp on reality. There are people with deep-rooted wounds, that need healing. That need to know that they’re loved. That their lives are marked with a purpose. That’s what showing the love of our Savior is. That’s what being light in the midst of darkness means. I hope I see Deborah again someday, until then I’ll keep her in my prayers.