Shopping after the holidays is a little depressing.  Everywhere you turn, there are raggedy boxes of Christmas lights and once cheerful holiday bulbs where one of them is sadly broke into a million shards.  The pre-wrapped gifts that once held such promise are tossed in a bin marked CLEARANCE with little pieces of tape and torn wrapping paper – obviously returned or exchanged for something more desired.  Sure – the deals are great but there is a feeling of desperation in the air that is just now being shaken off by the exhausted retail sales people who have probably just gotten their first two days off in a row after 90 days of insanity.

I am reminded of all of the women who come in and out of my life – some are ready for change and some are not.  Some have the support of family and friends and some do not.  Some don’t know that change is even possible and have never even explored the idea that there is the possibility of possibility.  Some know that change is possible but think that it can’t happen for them.  Some are trapped in toxic relationships and some are trapped in jail.  Some are trapped in the social service system that limits their thinking to believing that they are only deserving of what the government will give them.  Some are convinced that society somehow “owes” them something although they can never define what it is.

I beg God for clarity – for them and for me.  And He always gives it to me at the last possible moment.  His call for my life was never to change the whole world or to feed all the hungry or to house every homeless woman.  He called me to take each one “as is”, tell them He loves them, that I love them, and then let them know that the door is always open and the zone is always judgment free. 

What a relief.  But being judgment free is not as easy as you might think.  Sometimes things are clearly wrong and there is simply no excuse for it.  And yet – it is important to me to remember that they are brought to me in the exact condition they were supposed to be when they got there.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  His plan for all of is different.  He brings women into my life that are ready for change and it is not up to me to decide what that change is, only that there is indeed the possibility that there is possibility.

In fact – time and time again I am surprised that a new girl who sits in front of me – alone and hopeless – suddenly sees the light goes on when I tell her that she deserves to be happy.  That she has worth beyond measure and that all she has to do is learn to love herself. 

Of course at first they don’t believe that it’s true.   But God has prepared her to be in front of me, she ready to receive it within a few minutes because His hand is on the switch.

When they look into that handheld mirror the first time and choke out the words “I am willing to change”, the emotion is raw and very often it takes a few attempts before they get it.  When we don’t have a mirror available, we announce as a group that “I accept love in abundance” to the universe and put emphasis on different words as we say it again and again.  A little bit of joy starts to creep into the room a little bit at a time and suddenly, these beautiful, broken women find their voice and they experience – many for the first time –the well of love they have inside just got “tapped” and they glimpse the other side of their own personal hell.

They come to me “As Is”.  No Refunds.  No Returns.  And I am called to meet them where they are.  They bring their raggedy lives in old bulging boxes, barely held together with packing tape and rubber bands and – together – we  start to open the box and get all the pain and the shame and the despair pulled out, put aside and work from right there in that moment.  We don’t try to brighten it up with pretty ribbon, or disguise the contents with overused clichés and platitudes.  We don’t try to pretend that some of the contents don’t still have power over them.  We don’t ignore the shattered pieces in the bottom. 

The relief is palpable.  This CLEARANCE is so much different than what was expected.  It reveals the possibility of possibility that life can be very different but we have to clear out the old and rewrite the future with different rules.

It’s a beautiful thing and I don’t always get to see the end result. But it is for that single moment of clarity when God switches on the light in her darkened mind that makes me keep going.  He continues to bring them into my life as they are ready, with His hand on the light switch, their hearts bruised and tender and raw and then He sets me there as a conduit to His power to change. 

After all they are His girls and ALL SALES ARE FINAL!

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