“Truly had I not had my daughter I probably would have killed myself. ” This was the deep, dark pit that Teresa found herself in after losing her son. It was the beginning of a vicious cycle that led to alcohol abuse, estranged friends and family, and ultimately time in jail. Teresa found herself cut off from what she needed most, community. Without community, Teresa became vulnerable to the lies of the enemy and felt the crippling effects of shame and guilt overcome her life. Teresa describes this season of life “like swimming in a really dark ocean;” there was no light and no exit. “I was looking for someone to help me feel like I could live again, not just survive;” but help was not to be found.
It was Teresa’s belief that she was meant for more than simply existing that drove her to start seeking resources beyond friends and family that were running on empty themselves. During a call to 211, Teresa heard about a local organization called Love INC. The first need that Teresa thought to ask for was help paying her electric bill. The Love INC model is to provide holistic help to people in need, not simply provide a handout. The philosophy that guides Love INC’s model is referred to as Redemptive Compassion and at the core of this philosophy is the desire to help people find their infinite value, not because of anything that they have or have not done but simply because they are a human being, created in the image of God.
During the intake call with Love INC’s Connection Center, it became clear that there was more that Teresa needed help with than a simple electric bill. Teresa was referred to Love INC’s IMPACT program, a ministry that seeks to foster transformational growth within clients by employing the concepts of Redemptive Compassion and serving the whole person. Teresa signed up for Affirming Potential, one of IMPACTs courses and it was during this class that the self-confidence lost long ago began to re-appear in Teresa. “Affirming Potential revitalized me. It helped me to remember that even though you may be stuck in life, any dream can be realized.” The course was a lot of work and challenged Teresa to not just imagine her dream but to put concrete steps together to achieve it. Affirming Potential works by building a step-by-step plan backwards from the endpoint of a client’s dream, all the way to the first step of the journey. When clients graduate, they not only have felt the invigoration of dreaming a dream, but they know how to make this dream a reality.
As Teresa worked through the course she realized, “I can start this right now. My life was on hold, but I realized that I don’t have to wait to start chasing my dream;” so she chased it. Teresa built a trusting community with the IMPACT family where she felt comfortable sharing vulnerable details about her life. With the help and discernment of this caring community, she regained a part of her that had been lost, the realization she too has something unique to offer this world.
With this renewed confidence and calling, Teresa is setting foot towards Wyoming where she and her brother with help one another during this next season of life with all its joys and challenges. Apart from being with her brother, Teresa can’t wait to start fishing again! “I live for fishing, I used to go every day.” It just so happens that there are three converging rivers right where Teresa will be moving; one of the many ways that God’s goodness has shown up in Teresa’s life. Apart from fishing, Teresa plans to join a church family that she has already visited once, “They were playing my song when I walked in! I just knew this would be my church.”
Teresa’s story reminds us that the power of shame and guilt is great and greatly debilitating. But the power of God’s grace and goodness is even greater. Teresa shared at her IMPACT graduation that she finally “felt like a human being.” Teresa is living in and out of God’s love for her and leaving the dead weight behind, “I can move on without the shame I had before, it doesn’t have to be a factor in my world anymore.” What is it to be a human? Perhaps it is simply learning to accept the love that our Creator has for us.