Six months ago we opened the Hope House, an aftercare home for women who have experienced human trafficking. This was an impossible dream and we had no idea what to expect at the beginning. By the end of our first day we had already been barraged by life lessons—follow your own rules, communicate expectations clearly and repeatedly, how to break into a car when you lock your keys in there with it running…the list goes on.
The ensuing weeks have only brought more lessons, one being the grand importance of “the little things”. Our women come to us from very different places—their stories are unique and in many ways unimaginable. They come from living in motels to hiding behind locked doors and drawn curtains. They come from a lifestyle of constantly being in survival mode, never stopping to notice things many people take for granted, because those things are not immediately relevant to their survival.
They know what it is to have nothing, to stand outside all night in the rain because there’s nowhere to go. They know loss. They are well-versed in suffering. They have experienced the deepest indignities, and the cruelest side of humanity.
When you are in that place, it is a luxury to notice the little things, a privilege you are often not safe enough to experience. As staff it has been such a beautiful gift to be able to see our women emerge from survival mode as they gain some stability and start noticing the little things. It is like they are seeing some things for the first time—the squirrels playing on the telephone poles, the stars, and the flowers.
They are reconnecting with parts of themselves that have been in hiding for a long time out of necessity.
One of the most eye-opening realizations for me came one day when we were talking about putting up curtains in the kitchen. They made it clear they didn’t want curtains in the kitchen and that they wanted the curtains we do have to stay open. Closed curtains remind them of hiding and they are thankful to now live in a place where they feel safe enough to keep the curtains open, even if it means everyone walking past can see right in the window.
Curtains being open or shut might seem insignificant, but in that moment, for them open curtains represented finally being able to breathe, to feel safe, and to live without fear. It’s the little things that matter.
We are learning to recognize small victories and celebrate even the tiniest of successes, because each one, no matter how little, represents a step forward in a new direction and the ability to dream into the future with hope. All these little things from learning to bake cookies, to receiving a compliment, to choosing fruit over candy, or walking to the park for fun—are a part of what it means to experience some semblance of normalcy in a world that can be so harsh and unsettling.
Our women are such beautiful examples of resilience, strength, and faith and the more time we spend with them, the more we each appreciate the tiny moments that make life so precious.
So remember the importance of the small, “insignificant,” things in life. Let the phrase “stop and smell the roses” take on new meaning for your own life, because it truly is a gift to experience fully those little things we all so often take for granted. Life is so beautiful–even in the pain and trials there is always a little reminder that there is a God who loves you and you’re going to be okay. You just have to look for it.
Written by Alyssa Everitt, Hope House Program Director