Darcy is profoundly mentally ill. All the other homeless people living around Safeway tell me how concerned they are about her safety. Every interaction I have had with Darcy for the last three years has confirmed her community’s concern. Trapped in a cycle of delusional thinking, Darcy believes that she is controlling all the banks in the city. In the middle of her ranting monologues, she will often describe gruesome details of rape and murder. Real abuse and trauma are expressed through fragmented mental health. When she talks with me, I try to listen for the thread of continuity that strings the narrative of her life together. Themes of fear, violence, and abuse are articulated in the middle of paranoid delusions of global banking schemes and the FBI. I respond with words and body language that hopefully communicate empathy and concern. I pray healing in the name of Jesus to the damage abuse and trauma have done to Darcy’s identity.

Last week Darcy was walking by and stopped to talk with us. Reverend Paul and I were handing out survival supplies: socks, water, prayers, and a listening ear. Darcy began to sob as she talked with us about the violence and abuse experienced in her family. It is challenging to understand everything she is saying. I need God to send his Spirit to help me interpret her communication. While I am praying, I feel overwhelmed with the presence of God. I interrupt Darcy, and tell her, “God wants you to be free of guilt and shame.” Darcy cries uncontrollable and thanks me. Her entire countenance changes as we discuss the freedom and liberation provided by Christ. She literally looks brighter and lighter. Darcy begins to articulate the grief she feels about losing her son to the foster care system clearly and coherently. She shares about her violent ex-husband and blames herself for being victimized. As we pray, the heaviness of despair and self-loathing are lifted. “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).”

Reflecting on my interactions with Darcey, I am struck by the Holy Spirit’s power to preserve, recover, and restore our true God created selves. How Jesus identifies with us in our suffering. “He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself (Philippians 3:21).” To share in a moment of miraculous healing and deliverance with Darcey is an honor and a privilege. In the middle of suffocating fear, the holy breath of God breathes life, continually transforming us into the children of God we were always intended to be. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49).”

Michael Cox

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