There Are Stories in the Waiting

There Are Stories in the Waiting

Don Oglesby

September 6, 2022

A waiting list can entail both anxiousness and hope at the same time. Waiting is really hard. But there is always a story in the waiting. Maybe even multiple stories. 

This past week, on September 1st, on the first day of open applications for Homes of Hope’s potential Greenville housing clients, within 30 minutes of opening the website for applications, the demand was so large, it crashed our website. Twice. 

The drama that unfolded was quick and powerful. Between scrambling I.T. technicians and a phone system avalanche from folks cut off in the middle of applying, emotions were intense. 

What followed that avalanche was a group of dedicated staff who sprang into action and managed the phone calls and the folks who drove down to our office, and the I.T. frenzy, to eventually arrive at a place where all applications were submitted. 

There were so many though, that the waiting list was eventually cut off. On DAY ONE we had already reached a number of applicants far larger than we could house in this next year. Thinking about that is stunning. I wonder how many more would be equally and desperately applying if we could have kept accepting applications. (We average over 300 “inquiries” every month). 

But at least some hopefulness was now possible for some.  

However, some emotion of despair was also firmly embedded among our staff. Despair that came from the cold water shower of a demand so intense that we knew we were just scratching the surface of the need. 

And in the midst of it all, stories. Stories of trauma from those we spoke to who were desperately trying to get through to us after the website crashed, and get on the list. Some were in tears and their desperation so evident that it almost overwhelmed us. Stories of drama on our part when we collectively despaired at our efforts being so much less than what was needed (even though we are the largest non-profit developer of single family affordable housing in SC).  

To us at Homes of Hope, we’ve always focused on the people, not the numbers. We are so intentional to not chase numbers as our measurement for mission success, and focus on life impact and generational change one household at a time. 

But this avalanche was real and important. The numbers are overwhelming. 

It took me 20 years to complete the book I wrote about the Homes of Hope story (“Still Desperate in the Promised Land”). During those 20 years I continually wondered why I couldn’t finish it. I eventually learned that the “story” is in the waiting. 

I couldn’t finish it because the “story” was still being written right before my eyes. The story of the faith it took for us to persevere in achieving the mission. The story of the evolution of how we attacked the mission. The stories of those we served and what we learned from knowing them. 

A waiting list is indeed a place of hope but it is also a place of drama and trauma, and learning, 

and the formation and cultivation, of stories. 

Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Our stories are continually being written in the midst of our waiting. 

My prayer is that the stories of all who made the list, and all who didn’t, will continue to write themselves into all of our consciousness and that together we will continue to work towards a great ending.