The Glass Box


I’ll be honest. I’m a young white female working a desk job, and sometimes I worry there will come a day when I won’t have anything in common with the men we serve. And now that I’m in an administrative position at Emmaus, I don’t have the same kind of consistent relationship with the men that I did as a Kaio member, working daily in the Ministry Center or on Outreach.

The other day, I joined in a conversation with José and another staff member. José was sharing that he really wanted to move out of Chicago and go live with his extended family in Missouri. When I asked him why he wanted to leave Chicago, José said something that I’ve thought about every day since.

“I feel like my time in Chicago has been like I’m sitting in a glass box that’s suffocating and closing in on me. I look out and see everyone else’s lives changing around me, like the seasons of the year. Good things are happening for them, but I’m still here. Nothing has changed by me being in Chicago. I’m the same.”

As I listened to José, I started tearing up. José had just verbalized exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, with the eloquence that so naturally accompanies his speech. In the past few years that I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve seen friends get engaged, marry, and have babies. In the short time I’ve been here, every friend’s life has drastically changed, and I’m still here. The same. At that moment, I related to José in a way that I’ve never connected with an Emmaus guy before.

If I stopped writing, this would be a really depressing, self-pitying blog post. But the Lord has been consoling me and doing a new work in my heart. He has been displaying His faithfulness, and showing me that He is who He says He is. The Lord has been romancing me like crazy and expressing Himself to me in a new way. He is going to fulfill every promise He has made to me over the years. And He wants to do the same for José. The Lord promises us that we will see His goodness.

I wanted to share with José everything the Lord has been revealing to me these past few months. But at that moment, I was called away to take a phone call from one of our men in prison, and by the time I was off the phone, José had left for the day.

The reality with our men is that I do not know if I will see José again. He might move, for all I know. Or he’ll show up at the Ministry Center tomorrow. Maybe José didn’t need to hear what I wanted to share with him that day. Perhaps God just wanted to remind me that I wasn’t alone in the glass box. Because as good as God is, it still hurts and at times seems hopeless.

But we are in it together. And the Lord is in the box with us.

  1. Thanks for sharing Katie. Yes, our Savior is in the box with us. Hooray!

  2. Dear Katie,
    I often imagine you in the big city of Chicago and imagine it isn’t an easy place to live at times, despite being an exciting, diverse, and vibrant place. Chicagoans are much more than the young and well-employed folks that we often idealize.
    Your letter is very heart felt and I see a maturity in your expressions that isn’t born from jealousy for your friends blessings, which is very, very good.
    Your work is developing your character Katie, which is a large dividend in itself.

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