Many times, the stories we tell are complex. Guests come to us from across Lancaster County for different reasons, and those reasons aren’t always easily understood. Recently a guest named Jim* came to us battling severe mental illness. He used to be a music producer, and wrote songs for top bands across the country, living a full life. But somewhere around 50, things went downhill quickly. The reality is, despite work with our Case Managers, and several assessments, we really don’t know why.
While at Water Street, Jim struggled to understand and follow new protocols, wandering out of quarantine areas during his initial intake, and after making it through quarantine often broke curfew and other rules. At times, he would be found on campus mumbling and repeating the same words nonsensically over and over again.
But one thing staff strive to work through on a daily basis is to put people before rules, when possible. They seek to remember Jesus’s teaching first, that laws were made for man, and not man for laws. In Jim’s case, despite all the rules he broke, we knew he needed help. Likely more intensive help than we were able to give.
Discharging him didn’t seem like the answer, so instead staff decided to give him more time, and find him a behavioral health clinic suited for full time care. As he left Water Street Mission, we tried to remember that God has Jim in His hands. We don’t fully understand his past, and we don’t know what his future holds.
Mercifully, in his case, we did hear back. After several trying weeks for Jim, his father called and told us about his journey. For the first time in his life, his father said, Jim wrote a song about Jesus. His father wanted us to know that Water Street “provided the safety to help him feel safe with God again.”
Jim often came back to campus even though he was no longer at Water Street. In fact, he would often seek out one of the life coaches who had a profound impact on him during his time here. If we can offer a safe place for someone going through a hard time, perhaps that is the role God is asking us to fill. Even if we are just one piece of the puzzle in someone’s healing journey, we are grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside guests, whatever their trials. We know that ultimately, it’s God who brings restoration into their lives.
*Name changed to protect identity