It hit me how old the place was as I pulled into the parking lot. Over twenty-five years have passed since the last time I made that turn into the now patched and faded lot. The place doesn’t look nearly as good as it used to… but then neither do I… The thing that hadn’t changed a lick was the emotion in the eyes of the people who lived in those apartments.
Some were content, but they would be the minority. That place is temporary shelter for almost everyone that lives there and a change in life is what brought them all together. A place where the broken live. I could see the anger in the eyes of some of the residents… I remember that feeling… I could see and sense despair and brokenness.
As soon as I parked I knew the trip down memory lane was inevitable. My heart broke for those people. I know exactly their pain and despair… and then I knew that I was going to get to feel it all again on their behalf… and maybe mine. It was like watching something you didn’t want to, but were being forced to.
Experience tells me that most of the folks living in that mega apartment complex were living lives of consequence. Their choices made in hope that were calculated more like birthday wishes and revealed the reality of true life… along with the double-edged sword of free will.
So many lives playing out in close proximity to others, many of them train wrecks in slow motion… No rewinding, no fast forwarding… Each physical and emotional blow taken at full force, every second seeming like an eternity… I’d say some of those folks don’t even know they’re in the hour of their deepest need. How many tears fall unseen behind the walls in the homes of the broken nightly? God only knows.
I didn’t want to make that journey back, but there I was feeling and remembering that painful time in a life when wisdom beckons. Deep despair stands at the end of the street waiting for those who toil in foolishness, waiting to greet all of us who toil, thinking we can out wit God or our choices.
The sting of reality burns upon the weeds of decay sown in our flesh… and the tears of desperation can’t quench the fire within. Nor do the short, heavy breaths of stress and pain – they only stoke the flames. How many will find truth with their face buried in the worn and filthy carpet that soaked up the tears of broken strangers before them? Will the bitter reality of a life lived with the wrong perspective and priorities be enough pain to bring about change?
No one likes being broken. In truth, not many people are truly completely broken. I believe if a person is truly broken they seek truth. The truth is that only God can repair the broken-hearted, but we can’t be repaired supernaturally until we know we’re broken and in need of something bigger than ourselves.
My good friend who met me there to help me unload our trucks shared with me his story of a broken life and the time he did at that apartment complex. God has a way of using circumstances to open the hearts and minds of His stubborn chosen. I remember mine being revealed to me with my face in worn and filthy carpeting… Maybe the best thing that ever happened to me…
I’d like to think that place is a stepping stone on the way back up to peace and joy for some…
I pray it will be for my sister…