Out with the old, in with the new

Lily Martin, Communications Specialist

I ventured to see the new Women’s Shelter on a gray, murky day in August. Parking my car just behind an overgrown fence row, I could see the two buildings peeking just over the divide. Taking out my camera, I perched on the rim of my car to take a photo. Satisfied with the shot, I began to walk.

The clouds pressed heavy on me as I stumbled over sidewalk cracks, and I found myself gazing up at the old building. The quiet otherworldliness of the scene entranced me. Vines stretched, storybook, over the crumbling white bricks, contrasted with the stark stainless steel and fluorescent orange of the desolate construction zone below. I shifted a pebble with my foot and found a small doll, partially obscured with construction dust, perhaps a relic of the move that occurred only a few weekends before.

I have moved several times in my life, and there is often a quiet melancholy to the experience, even in the midst of joyful anticipation. Whenever I’ve moved, I’ve left a piece of my soul behind. I would assume the same is true for many.

We are simultaneously spiritual and physical beings, knitting our emotions and memories to people and places. So, it is no surprise that transition can be colored with an inexplicable desire to stay rooted, whether that is to our college apartments or even to our old lives.

As I ran my fingers along the white walls, falling into disrepair, I felt the weight of it all: the decades of souls who have passed through these doors, seeking hope, life recovery, and redemption. I will never understand the nuances and complexity of their experiences, but in that moment, maybe I caught a glimpse of these ghosts.

The most difficult aspect of serving Christ is letting go of the “old man”. Nostalgia, comfort, fear—these things want to keep us clinging to our old sins, habits, behaviors, and selves. For the women who have walked these halls, they have experienced this phenomenon in a real, raw sense. We are all haunted by our pasts in one way or another, and there is no earthly remedy for this other than to start over, and to rebuild.

As I turned the corner onto Forster Street, the scene was breathtaking. Out of the mess of dirt and gravel rose a beautiful new building. It only seems appropriate in this past year of despair, hopelessness, and uncertainty that we would have this monument to testify of God’s goodness to us despite our circumstances. We are called by God to lay down our crosses and to follow Him, in pursuit of becoming more like Him. If we do this, if we trust and believe in Him and what His Son did for us, we will live again with restored bodies that will “shine like the sun”.

We are always on the precipice of eternity, and this season of change for Bethesda Mission serves as a reminder of God’s persistence in restoring His creation and His people back to Himself.

For the individuals who will walk these halls, I pray that this “new life” will be just that, out with the old, in with the new. This new building seems like a good place to start.


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