I have no idea how it’s possible but the day has arrived: the last street walk. No matter how much I prepare myself for the pain and sadness I will feel when my street partners and I drive away from our route, the emotions that will come are inevitable.
Goodbyes have always been hard for me. I feel powerless not knowing how someone is doing because they are not consistently in my life. A year ago I would not have realized how difficult it would be to walk away from my friends on the street. But now I realize how much I have given of my very self, deeply loving them through their suffering. Like Mary and John accompanying Jesus at the foot of the cross, I want to stay by my friends side and accompany them. The painful realization is that I need to let go and allow God to watch over the friends I have met this year. It is a process of entrustment, not only in God, but in other people as well. One might ask how is it possible that I am experiencing this pain in saying goodbye to the homeless. It is simply because I have seen Christ through their suffering and pain. I have seen their loneliness and recognize their longing for community.
One day my friend, Peter, told me that the bike I had helped him fix was stolen. I sat with him as he started crying into my shoulder. He opened up to me saying how much he valued my friendship because I was someone he could trust. He explained how hard it is to always worry about his stuff getting stolen. Peter’s openness that day was made possible by the loving presence of Christ working through me, and in all of our previous encounters leading up to this point, that softened Peter’s heart to be able to trust in someone again. Through Peter’s emotions, I was reminded of Jesus crying out on the cross. It is experiences like these that I have had throughout this year which makes it hard to let go. The stories Peter and others have shared with me have been an invitation into their lives and they have become a part of my own being.
As my first year comes to an end I am realizing the simple task I must do which is to offer up my friends to God and trust that he will take care of them for me, knowing He will do more for them them I ever could. My friendships are not my own; they come from God and I must invite others into the relationships I have to allow God the ability to work through other people. I have to choose to humble myself and realize that I have done everything I could do for my friends this year, which is to simply love them.
In accepting the pain that is to come, I will better be able to conform myself to Christ, who accepted pain out of love for us. I will cry like Peter cried in front of me and like Jesus did on the cross and it’s okay because it shows the unity we have with each other and with Christ.
When I love until it hurts, I am choosing to give up control of those I have given myself to, allowing God to protect and nourish them. The hurt is when I realize I am insufficient for my friends, but the beauty is that God worked through me to love them with his own love. I am not worried to love deeply and experience pain anymore because I have realized it allows God to work through me in tremendous ways. Like Jesus embraced our humanity, I, too, embrace the call to love with everything that it brings. And without the help of all those who sponsored myself and support Christ in the City, I wouldn’t have been able to learn all of these invaluable lessons. I am so thankful for this opportunity to love until it hurts.
Gian is a first-year missionary from Kansas City, MO. He enjoys wearing Hawaiian shirts, snapchatting, and spikeball.