By Mimi Smith, Christ Church, Pittsford, New York
Mimi Smith, a high school student from Pittsford, New York, recalls a moment when she experienced mission while visiting the EMC during the summer of 2015:
Perspective. It is a simple word, yet it bears tremendous weight and value. This past summer I was lucky enough to enter into the world of several individuals whose perspective, were far different from the cookie cutter reality in which most of us live. Unlike many other sixteen year old girls, I have endured true adversities and have experienced more than most. However, with my vast scope of morals and ideas, I was still unprepared for the minds of the men I met and the stories they had to share. Along with Jose Fernandez and two other girls from South Carolina, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at a safe house in downtown Germantown. A safe house is a place where – in this case men – are allowed to live even if they are struggling with addictions or mental illness, unlike many homeless shelters which turn away many individuals in these situations. Right from the start it was easy to sympathize for the men inside. They were good people who had made too many wrong decisions and realized a little too late what they needed to change. One man in particular stood out to me and truly touched my heart. As we sat down for lunch he began to tell me his background. He had a wife and two kids, a boy and a girl. His family had kicked him out when he refused to curb his addiction and eventually he wound up on the streets. He told me how sorry he was, how stupid he felt for choosing drugs over his wife and children. Here was a middle-aged man confessing his deepest emotions to me, a teenage girl he had never met, and yet my heart ached. As he continued, tears began forming in his eyes, and he kept his head down. He proceeded to admit that he knew his son hated him, but he couldn’t stop saying how much he loved him and how much he couldn’t wait to get out just to see him succeed and these were the words that will never leave my mind, “He may never speak to me again but when I see him walk that stage, I’ll know I’ll have at least done one thing right in this life.” Here was a man consumed with regret, hated by his own children and yet expressing hope for the future. He wasn’t unrealistic, he knew his actions had done permanent damage he might not be able to undo, but he did at some point in his life come to the realization that his perspective on his own situation had to change. Instead of dwelling on his decisions, he decided to focus on what would bring him joy and comfort. Instead of thinking about his loneliness, he decided to surround himself with the memories of the ones he loved most. This day was one of the most emotionally challenging experiences in my life so far and it definitely threw me for a loop. By the end of the day however, I came to my own realization that in the midst of adversity and strife, it’s important to keep an open mind for what is to come. Throughout the rest of this trip I not only met several more individuals but I saw the world through so many more perspectives. In the end, I think it’s just important to remember, everyone has their own magnifying glass, and a sunny day to one may not be so bright on the other side of the mountain.