Joanna's Reflection - Courage

“Courage, is in the eye of the beholder”

There are millions of people employed in the United States. The average employee faces many hardships at work. These challenges can cause employees to work overtime and consequently spend less time with their family, among many other things. As an employee, at Kingdom Causes Bellflower and working with the re-entry population, I have had to face my own hardships. Though none compare to the hardships I have seen among my clients in Good Soil Industries and Little House, a recovery home in Bellflower. My clients are men and women who courageously attempt to re-enter the workforce while facing many obstacles.

The re-entry population is one of the most courageous group of people I know. The sad truth is that not all make it to the finish line, many relapse and you might never hear from them again. Yet, for those who continue to run the race of sobriety, the fear of relapsing, is a constant companion. I am humbled by their perseverance to face life even when the people closest to them have abandoned them. Or when their own mental and physical health impedes them from being the person they once were or wish to be. They are labeled as criminals or drug addicts who are constantly rejected and denied employment opportunities. Nonetheless they persevere to gain self-sufficiency by seeking to earn their own wages.

Half of the men that work with Good Soil Industries are homeless. More often than not they come to work without having breakfast. If it weren’t for a GSI manager who buys them lunch, they would probably go the entire day without a meal. Needless to say, they are also not well rested and sometimes lack proper hygiene, and other factors necessary for sustaining employment. They commute by bike or take the bus to be in the office by 7 am. They choose to work even when they are sick, which is almost always prolonged due to their lack of healthcare. The courage these men exemplify is remarkable.

A recent client whose name I will keep confidential graduated from Little House about a month ago. When she moved to her sober living, I extended her an invitation for a job placement opportunity in one of our partnering local businesses. That afternoon when I met with her to do the paperwork, the client told me about her fear of relapsing. She had nightmares of her addictions, where she would wake up in sweat and tears. This woman did end up relapsing two weeks after I met with her, fortunately, she sought help and had a quick recovery. She is working and staying connected to her family and a community that helps her maintain her sobriety. She is determined to do well and one-day provide for and reunite with her daughters. Sobriety is still a challenge for this woman, she does not know what her future holds, but she courageously faces each day in hope for a better tomorrow.

2 Corinthians 12:9 talks about how powerful our “weakness” can be. God tells the Apostle Paul,My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responds by saying, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The men working at Good Soil Industries and the woman seeking employment at Little House have so many weaknesses, but it is through those weaknesses that I believe God’s power is made perfect in their lives. They are able to wake up each day and gracefully face the world that more often than not discriminates and rejects them. They are able to do this while battling to overcome their own addictions and barriers.

I humbled and challenged by their story and empowered by how I see Christ in each of them. They are courageous, not because they lack fear, but because in face of their fear they choose to move forward, in spite of their battles. Without a doubt, my time at Kingdom Causes will be a season in my life that I will always cherish as a time that I learned how the “least of us” can actually be the most courageous among us.

-Joanna (former Employment Case Manager @ KCB)

Chrissy Birkey