By Cynthia Fuller, Managing Director of Charis Community Housing Faith, hope and love. But of all these love is the greatest. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is described in the Bible as being patient, kind, truthful, unselfish, trusting, believing, hopeful, and enduring. Love is not jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, selfish or angry and true love never fails. This description exemplifies God’s love towards us and reveals how we should treat and love one another.
A few months ago, Charis had to face the agonizing decision to close Glencastle apartments, our transitional housing program. We discussed and strategized for many months before publicly announcing the decision.
We met with residents to explain the transition and were met with some doubt, distrust, and anger. Some residents felt like they had been decieived. Others soon realized that what seemed to be a good thing had come to an end.
It was very painful to deal with some of the hurtful remarks from residents we had served so many years. Some implied Charis had betrayed them, was leaving them homeless, or that we just didn’t care about them. Of course, the comment that always stings is: “I thought you were supposed to be a Christian.”
I experienced many sleepless nights and deep stress, wondering whether the decision was right or wrong. Were we doing God’s will? I finally had to spend time in prayer to come to terms with the role I played in this decision of the closure. I became very familiar with the Serenity Prayer during this time. I struggled to see love present in the midst of this challenge. We tried to reassure the residents that we would do everything possible to help them in their transition.
We continued support our residents, refusing to abandon them in their time of need. This attention seemed to ease the pain, resentment, and discomfort that some residents were feeling. We spent countless hours and efforts to find helpful resources for housing, monetary needs, food, transportation, and moving expenses. In addition, we found support for emotional and spiritual well-being.
In the end, we found that the closing of Glencastle apartments gave families a new sense of identity, confidence, and self-assurance. The responsibilities of a new independence offered opportunities for progress. We finally saw new life and positive feedback from residents as we sat down with them each day to support them for the new life waiting for them.
I had a sense of relief that we had completed what we had set out to do, while caring well for our residents. I may have not always experienced the feeling of love in the process, but love isn’t always about feeling. Love is an action that reveals itself in what we do. This Christmas, we celebrate the action of God coming to earth. Regardless of the challenges we may be facing, we know God is present and loves us unconditionally.