“I’ll just keep running away, you know,” Max would say to his guardians. As a young ward of the state, he was always trying to escape. It was an ugly place to grow up, full of neglect and abuse. At no more than nine years old, Max ran away again, traveling over 100 miles all alone.
For Max, there was really nowhere he could call home. He didn’t know what it meant to belong anywhere so he just kept running. It turns out, that feeling of isolation can stick with you. And joining the military, getting married, nothing seemed to help.
“No matter what I did or what I tried, it was always empty,” says Max, thinking about his old life. “Even though I was successful, I had a long career, I worked over 35 years in the same job…but relationships, marriages, all kinds of stuff, I could never get a connection with anyone.”
Then, after making some bad financial decisions, Max found himself without a home. “When I got here to Water Street Mission, I was finally beaten to the point where I was ready to accept so much,” he says.
Alone, frustrated, afraid…he really didn’t know if there was a better life out there for him. So he decided to just try. One day in class he says, “Something just hit me…like it hit me to my core.” He heard something simple, but life-changing. “All it was, was that Jesus loves me no matter what. So no matter what I did, who I was, where I came from, He loves me.”
For Max, that meant he could finally belong. Not only with God, but also with all the fellow believers who want to walk alongside him. Even though his counselors and life coaches are helping him get back on his feet, he realized, “They’re all on their journeys. And yet they are such examples of how to process your journey and how to go forward.”
Seeing that God loves him, and us, and everyone no matter what, changed his life. Because, ultimately, we’re all in the same boat. Staff, volunteers, supporters and guests, we’re all loved by God through it all.
Now, he says, despite everything he went through as a child, he is living with new forgiveness in his life, for himself and for those who hurt him. “I was dealing with a lot of emotional pain and anger and I don’t have to deal with that stuff anymore. I’m so free from it.”
Max is finding community, something he hasn’t had most of his life. Today, he has real fellowship with staff, but also with other men who are “trying to change,” just like him. “I’m so happy I found Christ. So happy that he died for me,” confesses Max. “And I’m so grateful for that. And that he never, never abandoned me.” Max is building a new life for himself. He is miles from where he started, but in many ways, he is finally home.