I sat at a favorite coffee shop in comfort; my earbuds streaming a favorite Pandora channel while I read and journaled. It’s a Friday thing I do and many times I have seen a lady there, backpack and other bags in tow, and I am fairly certain she is homeless. Today, among her load, a neatly folded sleeping bag and blanket. Once, I watched her coming out of the restroom with wet hair, having just washed it in the sink.

When I see her, she seems at home in this setting and I wonder. I want to know her story; the events and choices (both hers and others’ ) that wove loss into her life. I can’t say for sure, but she just seems to be kind of lady that once enjoyed a fancy salad and soup or a vanilla latte, among other things.

So. I did something kinda crazy. I wrote her a note. I happened to have a cute blue card and matching envelope in my big mama bag I carry, and while she went to the restroom I quickly wrote a short message and left it at her table. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, so I quickly packed up my things and left.

As I walked to my car, I prayed that she would receive the gift of hope.

What did I write? I just told her that I saw her and saw beauty in her. I told her that I didn’t know her story, but I knew her story was still being written and that she was not alone.

We all have a story, and our stories are messy. We look at our tangled chaos  and we may believe that it is who we are, but our identity is in Christ, and he sees beauty when he looks at us. He declared us beautiful and holy when his Spirit came to live inside us. He sees beautiful.

If the lady I encountered really is homeless. If all she has is what she is carrying. If she made mistakes that cost her everything or if someone she trusted betrayed her and took it all. If the rest of the world sees homeless when they look at her, it does not change who she is. Our stories shape us, but do not have to enslave us.

Our hope is in Christ who is still writing our story. A friend this week said, “if we’re not dead, we’re not done.” I love it! Hope is alive in the One who made us and had the power to write his story in us.

We all need hope. We all need to believe that God sees beauty when he sees us, not our mess. What part of your story are you trying to keep hidden? Which parts have you wrapped in shame? What part of your story do you need to surrender today.

He sees you. He knows your story and he wants to use every part of it for his glory and purpose. He loves you. Completely.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8