by Al Tauber, Stories from the Streets Co-Director
I’ve never tried scuba diving. Friends who do it say i would enjoy it, but the opportunity has never come up, and, you know – sharks.
But lately an image of scuba diving keeps pressing on me. Because of staff cuts, most of us at Emmaus are managing multiple roles. Two of my three current jobs here make me spend a lot of time in areas i’m either weak in or unqualified for. My to-do lists grow longer every day. I’ve completely missed one or two meetings. I’m training volunteers, which feels absurd to me. Emmaus is short on cash again. The city is breathing down our backs over permits. A few days ago, during a torrential rain, i walked into our boiler room to find water pouring down the wall over the back door. It’s overwhelming and frustrating and exhausting.
All of this sits on top of normal Emmaus feelings. Watching brothers i love kill themselves with shocking efficiency and self-awareness. Sitting with them on yet another rainy Wednesday night because they shouldn’t be alone, but unable to change anything, to really do anything.
I don’t want to be a whiner. I know plenty of people who are struggling far more than me. But i am in over my head. It feels like this ocean is pressing in around me, threatening to crush me. This has always been my reality, but current circumstances force me to open my eyes. I can’t survive here on my own. I need this tank, regulator, Holy Spirit, Jesus.
My one job: breathe.
The analogy goes on. It’s beautiful here. There are things i would never get to experience if i weren’t doing this work. And there are certainly ways i am growing. No one really grows when they’re comfortable.
I keep thinking of 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Too much of my life is lived with an illusion of self-control. But when circumstances unmask that illusion, when i stop taking credit for “my” work, i can witness that perfect power, the beauty of God’s work around me. I get to participate in that work – to live and work within that power.
I just have to remember to breathe.