As I was looking toward the blog topic this month, “History Makers,” I was befuddled. Names like Amelia Earhart, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, and more came to my mind. And these aren’t names and stories that should leap through my mind lightly. However, I really wanted to write about a history maker that I could relate with.
One ordinary woman doing extraordinary things because of her love of God and love for people. Right about this time, my mentor for the summer sent me the story of Becca Stevens. Becca is an Episcopal priest that has started an organization called “Thistle Farms.”
Thistle Farms has dedicated their mission to help women heal from abuse, addiction, trafficking, and prostitution. Not only is Thistle Farms a residential program that provides housing, medical care, therapy, and education and job training, but they also employ women in “the bath and body product line, the Thistle Stop Café, the Studios Workshop, and Thistle Farms Global Marketplace.”
Reverend Becca Stevens first started when she opened her home to five women in 1997. Only two years later, Magdalene (the Residential aspect of Thistle Farms) opened their third house while also hosting the first graduation for eight women through the program.
The whole idea that threw Becca’s plans into projection was her belief that “love heals.” For her, it is a way of suspending all judgment. Love is extremely powerful for all healing. She is passionate about the meaning behind Thistle Farm’s name, too. The thistle has a beautiful, deep center, even though most people refer to them as noxious weeds.
Becca says, “So it made sense to name our company after it and remind us all that something to be discarded is (also) something to embrace and see beauty in. That’s what we’re reminding women: They are fully bloomed, wonderful gifts already.”
I just love Becca’s heart for people. I love that she’s willing to acknowledge the hurt in each woman’s story and instead of comparing, she acts on compassion. Each person could stand to use a little more love from strangers they encounter.
Becca took a chance on her aching for healing to be taken seriously and with love as the driving force. Our own passions can be the things that change the world. Fortunately, for us, there isn’t going to be “too much” compassion, love, understanding, hope, healing, or patience. In fact, I’m a big believer that this world could use an overstuffing of all of those things.
Romans 12:10 (NLT) says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Our world will be changed when we can love those around us with genuine affection. When we begin to lead humble lives, remembering others before ourselves, that’s when we start to move on the behalf of those around us. That is the movement that is considered compassion.
It’s not always simple to honor and love each other, in fact, it seems more difficult than easy. But then you see things like how Becca Stevens is changing the world. Becca Stevens is changing the world by loving women with the utmost compassion and honoring each life she encounters. Putting this simple verse from Romans is well worth the reward: loving brothers and sisters around us as we love ourselves.
Becca Stevens is changing the world. So can you.
(Sources – Interview with CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/us/cnn-hero-becca-stevens/. Thistle Farms website: http://thistlefarms.org/.)