Steve Evans shifted in the old folding chair. The legs wobbled under his weight and he froze in place, his hands coming to the edges of the seat in a white knuckled grip. The audience would never take what he had to say seriously if the chair gave way and deposited his butt on the makeshift stage.
He tried to refocus his attention without much success. The chaplain at the podium droned on about shelter hours, rules, and programs. The announcement of next week’s job fair and transportation to the event caught Steve’s attention, but left the gathered men unaffected. The men scattered in the audience whispered loudly to companions or sat alone in zoned out silence. Not here to listen by their own choice, but simply as a guarantee for a hot meal the next day.
Steve bowed his head and said the hundredth prayer of the day. Jesus please give me words. If this is part of your will for me, help me reach them. There’s so much at stake. No one knows that more than me. His chest swelled with a deep breath and Steve completed his prayer with the words that ended every prayer of every day. And wherever my girls are, keep them safe ‘til we’re together again.
When he looked up, nothing in the room had changed. He caught a glimpse from the chaplain and nodded. Why was this so hard? How could writing about his life and experiences be so easy and speaking about them be so difficult? He went over his mental notes, his attention brought back to the present when he heard his name.
He stood carefully, praying continued strength into the fragile legs of the chair, and walked to the edge of the platform. He stared out at the group of homeless men ranged around the room, trying to make eye contact, trying to establish a thread of connection between their despair and the hope he’d come to offer.
“I’m Steven Evans, and I’m a drug addict.”