A few years ago I went on a week-long mission trip to Boston with my youth group and Boston Project Ministries. Each summer BPM would have a theme for their trips, and this particular summer the theme was “What do you see? What do you seek?” The point was to get us to look deeper into what we were seeing around us, instead of just seeing brokenness and accepting it as we saw it, they encouraged us to ask questions about what we saw and why things were that way. They also encouraged us to see the beauty alongside the brokenness. As a young high schooler, I had no idea that the week would prepare me for my life here in Houston, but this past week, as I was reflecting on sight as part of a 5-week sense reflection assignment, the words from that trip came flooding back…

What do I see? What do I seek?

Unfortunately, my week didn’t start off too great. It began Monday morning with an extremely unsettling encounter as my housemate and I made our way to work on the bus. Just a few stops before we got to work, a man got on the bus. As soon as I saw the probably-drug-induced far off gaze on his face, my spirit reacted. I looked around and realized my housemate and I were the only ones in the back of the bus, and hoped that he wouldn’t make his way back to where we were. Long story short, he came straight to the back of the bus and became fixated on my housemate and I. It later became clear that his plan was to follow us off the bus. We ended up being okay, but the entire encounter left me extremely shaken.

Then, I got to work and immediately received a front-row seat to some really tough decisions that resulted in a resident being forced to leave the program. Even though I wasn’t the one making the decision, it filled me with grief knowing that the decision had to be made. When I was finally able to leave work, the former resident was riding the same bus as me, making the pain of the situation even more visceral.
Basically, Monday felt like a storm of negativity flying around me. I got home from work feeling completely dejected, there was so much brokenness that I was beginning to feel broken too. As I told my alum leader about my day though, she had some important words to share with me: nothing I was seeing was too much for God to handle. I was reminded that there is nothing I have seen that God hasn’t seen, and nothing I’ve seen that God can’t overcome.
Those words made me stop and think…what do I see? What do I seek? Yes, I saw a disturbed and possibly dangerous man; but I also saw the small hands of the kid at my morning bus stop waving to get my attention as he excitedly shouted, “Good morning ladies!” until my housemate and I saw him and said good morning back. Yes, my eyes darted and dodged as I avoided meeting the stares of the man on the bus, but as I turned my gaze out the window, I was met with the brilliant bursts of color that come with the sunrise each morning.  Yes, I saw tough decisions get made and helpless tears shed, but I also saw smiles crawl across residents faces as they saw me and let me know that they had missed me over the weekend. I came home feeling dejected, but I came home to a house roaring with laughter, a laughter which simmered down long enough to listen to and share in my burden until I was ready to join in with the joy.
I saw a lot of brokenness that day, I see a lot of brokenness every day, but I do not want that to be what I seek. What I seek is the beauty, because I know it is always there- for each morning as I ride to work and watch the world pass by, God reminds me that out of the darkness bursts a beautiful display of light.


Dani Hobbs is a current Mission Year Houston team member. Originally from Bridgewater, NJ, she attended Ithaca College. Learn more and support her by visiting her donation page or blog.