In Charles Dicken’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities, we find the often quoted sentence, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . .” My mind often goes to it when a mother arrives at our door with her children.
Have you ever been to a place in your life when you thought that you might need to find a safe haven? The staff knows that when a woman comes to our shelter there is a definite reason that she is coming and none of the reasons will be good. But, for a woman to come in to a shelter environment with her children, well, the reasons would have to be almost horrific! We realize that when a woman comes to stay with us it is because she has made her own personal choices which have finally brought her to this place in her life, but the children? Well, the children have had no choice. They are here because of Mom’s choices. Now they are in this big building, and Mom seems to be crying most of the time and appears to be focused on everything except them. The person on whom they depend does not have the strength to have anyone leaning on her. Now what? What do they do?
The staff sees this moment as an opportunity to step up and help the child/ren to feel safe. While they are here, they will have a clean, safe place to be; plenty of food to eat; and lots of ladies to offer them hugs and love. We want these children, if they are old enough to one day remember this time in their lives, to remember that Shepherd’s Gate was a place where they felt protected and people cared for them.
So—when they come to us, it is the best of times because they are here and will be safe and loved. It is the worst of times because their mom is at a crisis point in her life. Crisis points are often painful, stressful and life-changing. It is our greatest desire to help the mom and her children to work through the heaviness and heartbreak of the moment and to leave here, when the time is right, with new hope in Christ for a brighter tomorrow!