The Loaves and Fishes Kitchen at MUST Ministries has always been a place of hope, but on this particular day it was even more so. The kitchen serves as a refuge where individuals struggling with the twin monsters of poverty and homelessness can take a break from the battle to enjoy a warm meal. This day, however, was not like other days; while the lunch rush sat down to a fried chicken meal served by perhaps their only stable food source, a young woman stood up and began sharing a story.
Her name is Ametrius, and the story is her own. She is a manager at FedEx Express in Atlanta, but before that, she had been the child of a homeless mother. With raw honesty, she told of the burdens of depression, shame, anxiety and anger she carried long after her experience with homelessness. MUST clients listened attentively as she shared the lessons life had taught her about ridding herself of negative influences and remaining patient and resilient.
I-™ve never walked where these individuals are walking, and I can-™t claim to fully fathom any of their experiences, but as I watched Ametrius speak to them, I could see that she was helping them in a powerful way, a way that I cannot-"a way that many of us cannot, simply by virtue of our circumstances. She understood them.
There is something very poignant in watching a person whose life has reached its nadir interact with someone who has survived the very same fight. I scanned the room. I didn-™t know anyone-™s story, but I wished I could step inside their minds in that moment, as intonations of agreement issued from everywhere and raised hands gave proof of the resonance of Ametrius-™ words.
There is an incredible amount of power merely in being understood. It is a safe harbor free from judgment and isolation. It is a place where you can be certain that you are not simply a lone soul hacking your way through the jungle of circumstance. Others have walked this path before you and survived it.
Perhaps our clients could look at Ametrius and see a sort of future version of themselves-"someone who came out the other side of the tunnel strong and successful. But perhaps it was enough simply to hear someone tell them, -śYes, I know how awful it is. You-™re not alone.-ť Her presence there was living evidence that homelessness and poverty are monsters that can be defeated, and it gave me the privilege of witnessing something rare and beautiful.
I watched someone sow the beginnings of hope.