For the remainder of the week, Humans of William and Mary will be drawing attention to poverty and homelessness in our area. We are delighted to share the experiences of three humans who have been touched by homelessness in Williamsburg in one way or another. On Saturday evening at 6:30pm in Lodge 1, there will be an event exploring these experiences further, through monologue, poetry, and song.
I am blessed in so many ways, I truly am.
What are some ways that you are blessed?
I’m blessed with a wonderful wonderful family. I’m blessed with the gift of love from God. I don’t care what it is I do, what path I take, he always taps on my shoulder and says, ‘Barbara come on, you know that’s the wrong thing to do. That may be what you had in mind to do but that’s not what I want for you.’ And I learned a long long time ago that my time isn’t God’s time. I had to learn that and it was a hard lesson to learn because as people we want what we want when we want it. But God said, ‘your time is not my time. If I give you this now, Barbara, you’re going to mess it all up. So once you get finished with this task I have for you, I will give you that thing that you want and then you can make it through. But until you get where I need you to be, you can keep wanting. I have it for you, I’m just not going to release it to you. But I have it for you.’ And I trust God in everything I do, and I have to let people know when I come in contact with them, I’m human first. Please keep in mind that I’m human first. I’ve made some bad bad choices in my life, but I have learned that when you know better, you do better. People have often asked me, Barbara, how have you been at Quarterpath Inn for 15 years. It’s not about the money, like I tell them it’s not about the money. Had it been anything about this money I would have left a long time ago. It’s about the blessings that God shows me in each person, when I meet someone, I mean I’ve never met this person before in my life but I can tell you their life. When you sit down before me, God will tell me their life, he’ll say, ‘Barbara, be easy on her. No really, can you see what she’s wearing? She’s already hurting. So instead of you going hard with her, she’s not ready for that, you give her this little bit.’ And I’d be so surprised sometimes how touched a person would be, and I never even knew what I said to them made a difference. Excuse me let me take this…
*takes phone call*
That was my fiancee. Yes, I’ve had a fiancee for 15 years and I can never be his wife. No really! When I found out that I couldn’t be his wife, yeah it was a hurtful thing, but I’m a believer in God like I said, and I trust the Lord, and he has a wife. He’s divorced from her in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God she’s still breathing, and that is still his wife, so I stated to him, though he didn’t take it very well, that if I can’t be your wife I can’t fornicate either. So we have a relationship that is based on love, trust, and the love of God. That’s what our relationship is based on. Now people always say that I’m too young to just put that out of my life. But I have my children, thank God for Jesus, I have my offsprings. That’s what my sex was about, and now God has blessed me with my offsprings and my grandchildren. Now, I want to live life Christ-like. I’m never going to reach perfection, I know that. I know I’m going to have some bumps and bruises and I know there are going to be obstacles in my way, but I know what God has in store for me. I know that Man can say what he may, Man can do what he may please. But it does not stop my God.
Now I can talk about other things but when I talk about God I just can’t stop.
I do talk about other stuff, I really do.
But I just think about my life, when I was 21 and I almost lost my life and they called my family in and said if you ever want to see her again you need to come and see her. And God was like “No, Barbara, I did not bless you with these children to take you out of their lives. That’s not why I did it. I did this because you have a bigger job to do. And I never in a million years would have ever thought the job that he gave me was to minister to the people that walked in here. I never thought about that, I really didn’t. But he makes certain that I feel them when they come in, and they will say how did you know to say that, you don’t even know me. And I’ll tell them, “no, I don’t, but God does.” And they’ll come back saying Ms. Barbara you were right.
I’ve even had young people ask me about their relationship, and I’ll tell them sweetheart you know. You can have that one all you want but that’s not what God wants for you. In time you’ll have all those things but right now you’ve got to study on you. You start bringing all those other people into your life, you start losing focus. And at a young age, losing focus is where you end up finding single mothers with children, no daddy in the home, struggling all the time, so…I’ve lived it. I’ve lived it, but I look back and say oh my god thank you for those blessings! You not only blessed me with four children, you blessed me long enough to see everyone of them have their own offsprings. My God, you even blessed me with twelve grandchildren. I never would have thought. I mean I just say “wow you really do love me don’t you”. ANd I feel his love, I do, I do.
It’s amazing what He can do.
Did you grow up knowing God? Or did that happen later?
I grew up in the Church, but turned away from that church later.
Our pastor was having an affair with one of the deacons and our pastor was married to a woman just to try and hide all of this and everyone said it was ok. 2 Timothy doesn’t say that’s ok. So I could not be a part of that, no I never stopped loving the Lord, but I did stop going to that church. No I never stopped studying my God, but I did stop going to that church. And it’s been a very very difficult task to find a church that truly believes in the word of God. I cannot accept you on the piano drinking when I can smell the alcohol on you. You know I won’t accept that, because not only are you disrespecting yourself, you’re disrespecting God. Sing his praises, do your drinking, just don’t sit in your drunkenness and come before him spewing that ignorance. I know God forgives, but to keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, that is insanity. That’s not smart or wise. God is going to forgive you but come on, how many times do you think he’s going to keep letting that ignorance go by before he stops you. And that’s what we as a people need to know. That after a while he’s going to turn away and say, “You’re not going to stop? Ok, fine. You’re not going to do anything else? I ain’t doing nothing either.” He says, “You stop, I’ll stop, too. And a long time ago, Barbara, I told you that if you took one step, I would take two.” And this is how it ends up. People expect that dream land that you ask God to drop from above. No, no, God said, “No, baby. You ask for it I will give it to you, but you’re going to work for it. You know there are things you keep doing that you shouldn’t be doing. You’re asking me for that, but you keep on doing this? I’m not giving it to you. You’re not going to have it. Stop that. But I’ll give you this other thing. And I’m going to sit right along with you.” We have to make some sacrifices. And it’s not just dropping out of the sky. You have to work for it like anything in life, you have to work for it. Anything that’s just given to you, you don’t have that same connection to it.
Brian: What do you mean when you talk about people choosing death and not life?
I simply mean, they have no hope. People have nothing to believe in, and it’s so so easy to say “I know this gun. I know it real well. And I know what this gun can do for me. This gun can make you give me everything that you have. This gun can make you give me everything that you worked for, and I can do nothing. If I die in the process, so be it, I have nothing to live for anyway.”
And that is the problem. We don’t have any parents anymore! If you had parents rearing these children at home you wouldn’t have this problem. Because the first thing a child would naturally pick up would not be a gun but if that’s all they know, that’s what they’re going to do!… You smoke with your children, you drink with your children, and you do all these things in front of your children. Then you expect them to not do it at home? You have to look at a child’s mind. A child thinks that what mom and dad’s doing is good, so it can’t be wrong. And then once the child starts to try those things, the parents don’t understand why. Instead of educating their children, and having a conversation with them, they put them away and have them on their games for six or seven hours a day. Or they tell their kids to go make themselves a microwavable meal. Where is the full meal that your child deserves? And that’s really what a lot of it comes down to, and as hard as it may sound, that’s the reality.
What happens when we choose life instead of death?
ME! That’s what happens! There’s joy – unspeakable joy! Again I say, if it comes too easy it’s not worth having. The joy of knowing the Lord and knowing that anything you ask in his name shall be done. Let me tell you, it’s amazing.
I’ve been poverty stricken all my life. But I’m not selling my soul. I will not be a sellout for my God. If it means I have to be a Job, let me be Job. Take it all! Take it all. But I will never turn my back on You, because I know what You can do. I’ve been down and You’ve picked me up, I’ve been crying and You’ve wiped away my tears.
The love that I have for God, it won’t change. Now maybe I’m a little stubborn, I don’t know. But I do know I trust him, I know I trust him with everything. And if it came up today that he wasn’t real, you still wouldn’t convince me, I don’t care if I’ve never seen his face because I’ve seen his works. So there’s no changing me on God. Bring all the money, you could bring in millions and ask me to disrespect him but no…I’ve been poverty stricken all my life, I know what that’s like. But losing God? I’ve got no idea what that’s like and I don’t want to find out. I love the way he embraces me. When I’m crying alone, sometimes I just have to take the time and let it out, but he meets me there and builds me up.
It sounds like your faith has made you really resilient in the face of challenges. What are some of the challenges you’ve witnessed here?
There are several challenges here. The majority of my employees here, they live here, a majority of the employees here have no other place to stay. So when they came here, and God pretty much let me know who they were, I befriended these people. I befriended them and I checked if they wanted a couple of day’s work. And then they ended up working for longer. Like one of my employees…when she came in she didn’t have money to pay for the next night. So I gave her a day’s worth of work and then that money and work went on into weeks, months, years. And my other employee he’s the same way. And God lets me know, He says, “I don’t care where you are Barbara, there are always people in need.” People will try to put on a front, because we all wear masks, and people will say things like, “I don’t need help, I don’t need help.” But I was blessed enough that he pointed these people out ot me. So I’m very very blessed that I was able to help these people and give them a place to stay. To give them some hope and a reason to smile. Because not knowing where you’re going to lay your head down at night or not knowing where your next meal is coming from – it’s a horrible way to live.
So in that aspect, I’m very proud of me because I helped an individual and I helped more than one. And I’ve said to people many times, with the ignorance that comes along with this job – I mean we’ve had a little bit of everything – I mean every time we turn around the police are here for one reason or another. And people are like, “oh it’s because of the homeless people” and I tell them no, it’s because of the drugs and alcohol that come along. The homeless people – which, I don’t like to call them homeless people because if you have a room here you still have shelter – but they feel that they are homeless because they don’t have any money. But I tell them, “you are a wonderful person, look at what you got and what you can offer. Now most of you all, like I said, you’ve become complacent. You’ve become extremely complacent because by now, after 1, 2, 3 years you could have gotten up out of this. But you’ve made yourself complacent.” I’ve been talking to several of them telling them that it’s time for you to try and bring yourself out of here because we’ve got a couple people living here going into a depression because of it. I try to get them to understand that you’re bringing this upon yourself. There are so many other things you could be doing. You’re going to that room and you close yourself off and listen to music. Why don’t you try Jesus? You tried Kat Williams, you tried Kevin Hart, you tried, I don’t know, Ziggy Marley. Why don’t you call up Jesus? I’m telling you He’s on the main line. There should never be a question in your mind when God is speaking to you. God has a whisper voice. Satan has a mean, loud voice.
I don’t know any other way to describe God. I know many days I’ve said, ‘I’m done, I can’t do this anymore. I’m so sick of this ignorance. I have 40 year old people with the mind of a 12 year old.’ And he would say, ‘Barbara, you’re not finished. Many times I tried to leave here but he’d send me another one. I’m serious, he will send me another person who tells me that someone else told them to come see me.’ There is something or someone who I have not met that God intends for me to meet. I’m not sure who this person is, not sure what it is other than his word I can bring to that person. But he just keeps letting me know that I’m not done, and that’s why I’m going on sixteen years, because he says I’m not finished. But it is someone who I have to give his words of encouragement to. He always knows who to put in your path, when least expected. Like I said, I know him. I know his touch, I know his love and I have the utmost respect for him. I do, I really do.
With everything that I’ve gone through in life, and one might say that I shouldn’t even be here today. Well, that’s not your choice. That’s a decision for God to make and the reason that he brought me here. Because I was running a soul food kitchen in Hampton for about three years and the business was not really well, so we were starting to lose money. So one day we rode up to Williamsburg and I happened to stop here at this place and the female at the front desk stated to me “Our boss is not going to hire you. And even if he does he won’t pay you well” and so I said excuse me? He is going to hire me and he’s going to give me just what I want. I come back the very next day, of course, he hires me and gives me what I want. Then two weeks later he asked me to be his executive housekeeper. It was the grace of God. God says I’m going to triple that. I know that everything I have in my life I deserve to have it. Because I’ve worked for it. That is mine. You’re not going to take that from me.
If you had a listening audience of William & Mary students before you, what would you want to tell them?
Trust God. And believe that you can do anything that you want, please: try life. That’s what I would tell them: try life.
You don’t have any idea how you’ve touched my heart. Because I never really knew that people listened. I knew what God told me to tell them, but I don’t think I ever really knew that they heard him.