Abby
Post by On 14 May 2014

Rugged Kindness

We found her sat on the toilet – shorts down, knickers down, slumped over and completely out of it.

 

The door was ajar, and Kate and I squeezed through to sandwich her in and keep anyone else out. The vulnerability of this girl was just massive. The bar owner was concerned for her, but also wanted her to get out of the toilet so that the other punters could use it.

We began to try to move this girl, quickly pulling her clothes up so she was covered and dressed properly. We started trying to talk to her, explain who we were, and begin to ask her a few questions about herself – where she was staying, what her name was, how she was feeling etc. At regular intervals we lifted her so she was sat more upright, trying to encourage her to stand up and move out of the cubicle; she clearly felt unwell, and also clearly felt happy to tell us exactly what she was feeling. Most attempts at conversation with her ended in her telling us to f*** off, and a fair amount of flailing arms trying to push and hit us away.

Eventually we moved a chair into the cubicle and hoisted her onto it; after some more protesting, we began to shuffle the chair out of the cubicle, and towards the exit of the bathroom. Then she was sick – not much, but enough to sober her up significantly. Moving herself then onto another chair in the main bar area, we began to talk to her about how she was feeling and what she wanted to do. Her annoyance and frustration at us soon turned to vulnerability again – fears of who was surrounding her, fears of being on her own, and fears of being sick again. She announced her hotel name and promptly got on her feet and began to walk with us towards where she was staying. As we walked she began to apologise and insist that she would be ok on her own…unfortunately, the 24-7 Team are as stubborn as they come, and can think of a thousand reasons for why it’s best for us to walk with someone…so we continued on with her.

Getting her into her hotel was so easy, and as we tucked her into bed and went to turn the light off before leaving, she called out ‘Love you!’…we called back ‘Love you too!’, and closed the door.The ruggedness of kindness which takes a battering at first, to give way to grace and hope. There is something of God all over how these situations tend to play out, and they definitely sharpen your prayers and eyes of faith!

A few nights later 2 of the team were with a guy for 3 hours – he had one shoe and shorts on, had come off the back of a massive 3-day bender and had no-where to sleep. They ended up in the reception area of a hotel, where the receptionist was kind enough to let him sleep in a chair whilst we were there. When I swapped in with them, I could see that they had used almost every ounce of energy and hope to try and help this guy somehow, and had done a phenomonal job. I sat with him and another team member for the following 2 hours, purely to give him a chance to sleep before he had to go back onto the streets, this time with some water and a blanket. No happy ending, no nice resolve and lots of waiting… but a little bit more rested, and as I watched him sleep on as the night turned more and more into morning, it struck me again that kindness is rugged and grace is so often bound up with anguish of sorts.

I have just got in from a van night where we spent 2 and a half hours getting a guy home; he was only staying a 15 minute walk from where we were in the end, but it took most of that time to convince him that he needed some help! It is interesting how often people refuse to accept that they are in need of help initially. Maybe it’s quite a British thing? Maybe it’s just a human thing.

I do feel like September is going to launch a whole new wave of busyness – the West End was busier tonight than it’s been in a few weeks, and we are gearing up for another few weeks of getting really involved in the happenings of this place. May the ruggedness of the kindness of God be seen and known here in the West End through the unusual and challenging encounters with those that we meet, as well as the ones that have an ease about them, And may the anguish of grace draw us closer to the heart of Jesus, who has surely known anguish and ruggedness so much more than we have.

September – we are ready for you!

 

Abby x

Photo by theogeo / CC BY / original cropped

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