Our time together began like most of my appointments: "What brings you here today? How can we help?"
The reason for her visit was also typical. She needed assistance paying a couple of utility bills. April is probably the month when I see the most requests for utility assistance. There are no state or federal funds available for utility assistance during the "moderate" spring or fall months. So starting March 31st, many people scramble to get caught up on their winter bills. The utility companies take a tougher approach during this time, too. No deals are struck. Pay 80% of your balance or lights off. "We don't want our customers to fall further into debt," one Ameren rep told me.
Thankfully, my client did not have a large bill. I assured her we could help her catch up. But her face reflected little relief. She began to tell me her story...
She had recently left an abusive husband with her children in tow and wanted to prove to him she could make it on her own. After many years of being physically bruised and emotionally battered, she had had enough. She was doing fine, until a well-paying job at a local plant ended (much of our factory work in Jefferson City is now contracted through employment services and are often temporary and/or unpredictable). She was frightened. She needed work. She had many applications out but few leads. We discussed some other places to apply.
She was also an immigrant and had supported her husband with several jobs over the years while he traveled back and forth to their home country to run another business. He had not let her return to visit her family at all during the ten years they had lived stateside, and she revealed to me that her mother had died just the day before in Africa. She had not been able to see her or be present at her burial. Tears flowed. The real pain surfaced.
So many of my visits progress this way -- a client comes in with a declared need and before we say goodbye, the root of a pain or sorrow slowly emerges. While the "need" is usually typical, the story never is. We all have a very unique and personal story that shapes us and forms our experiences, and I am convinced that a story has the power to change the listener, from the inside out. You may want to go back to where you were comfortable, but you can't!
So I encourage you to revisit WORTHY. Stories need to be told. Stories need to be heard. Some will be sad. Some will be funny. Some will sound hopeless. Others will make you sing. But you've been warned. The stories may change you, and you can't go back.