I didn’t want to work Sunday.
It was raining, it was my day off, and I couldn’t help whining (silently to myself) “When will I ever again have a day to do absolutely nothing?”
In journalism, working at a daily newspaper often means working holidays, late nights, early mornings and the dreaded weekend assignment.
It goes with the job, and I should know the drill. In May, I’ll celebrate seven years in this crazy business. Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely love what I do. But some days it truly is a love-hate relationship.
To help put it in perspective, in recent months, I’ve spent just about every day writing for, and overseeing two sections at the Victoria Advocate, while putting out the May/June issue of GC magazine. I’ve been so tired, so in need of rest and quiet. I’m sure you know the feeling.
But I promised I’d be at the Sunday event – a ribbon cutting for House of Dreams. I promised I’d be there to write about the opening of Victoria’s first-ever faith-based homeless shelter for women.
And the organizers, a few of whom I’ve known and worked with for many years, specifically requested that I be there to cover the event. How could I just not show up? How could I send someone else in my place? I couldn’t.
So I shoved my hair back in a messy ponytail, threw on some needed-to-be-washed jeans, and made my way across town to the shelter – sans make up, motivation, or the ability to see past my own needs. It wasn’t my finest hour.
The House of Dreams event kicked off with a welcoming ceremony, prayers and blessings, followed by a reception and tour of the home.
And while walking the halls – my media badge and video camera raising eyebrows in each room I entered – my attitude slowly started to shift.
It was a remarkable home, clean and uplifting. The women were jovial and enthusiastic, as if Oprah Winfrey herself had arrived moments earlier announcing, “You get a house! And you get a house! And you get a house!” I couldn’t get over how happy they were.
The new residents were pleased with their new home and individual bedrooms and colorful bedspreads. I couldn’t help but smile. I couldn’t help but submit to the infectious energy of people feeling their burdens lightened.
I roamed and investigated the new upgraded kitchen and bathrooms. I eavesdropped on the voices and laughter of children playing, imagining, running with new friends. I gazed at the Bible verses strewn across walls and books, spotting one of my personal favorites, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).
And then I was introduced to Pam.
For the next 45 minutes, I sat with her and listened as she told me about her life, and how she arrived at House of Dreams. She laughed and sobbed and spoke about her battles with faith and temptation. She confessed her past to me, which included two stints in prison, a crack cocaine addiction, and more than twenty years of living on couches and floors with small children in tow.
Toward the end of our conversation, I asked her, “What’s your dream home look like, Pam?”
“A white house with a picket fence,” she responded, nodding, envisioning her future in that house.
“I believe you’ll have your home one day,” I said.
“I believe I will too,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. “For the first time in my life, I believe I will too.”
After we hugged and cried, and I digested a mega-dose of humility and perspective, I drove away considering how privileged I was. I am not a millionaire, and I am certainly not the most accomplished journalist in my field – far from it. But I was employed, working, stable, satiated, and wealthy in life and opportunity.
And as I pulled up in my driveway, in a car I was now thankful to drive and not live in, I gasped at the exterior of my home — a white house with a picket fence.
“I’m living in her dream house,” I thought, still sitting in my car. “How did it not occur to me?”
For the next half hour I sat in the driveway, feeling unworthy to go in my own front door.
But when I entered, I thanked God for my little white cottage with the picket fencing, and my too-many possessions littering the living room. It was then I was reminded that others, less fortunate than myself, would give their left arm to live where I live and be employed at my newspaper with its crazy, demanding hours.
It was a beautiful lesson to learn, and have God walk me through.
A few days later, I’m still thinking about Pam and the women of House of Dreams. I pray God always reminds me how lucky and blessed I am to be living, living well, and living the dream – even if it’s not mine.
I guess working on Sundays isn’t so bad after all.