October 14, 2022

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

Family’s challenges show us God provides through others

David Bethuram

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “God won’t give you more than what you can handle.” Well, for many that statement is hard to live through, especially if they feel they are alone. About five years ago, I met a mother named Lexi. This is her story.

Lexi never thought she would be one of the people you see on the corner asking for help or sleeping on a bench. After all, she had a great house, a nice car and what seemed to be a happy, middle-class life. All that changed when she made the decision to leave her marriage and a life of physical abuse.

Her husband made sure she left with only their four children—no money, no car and no house. But Lexi was determined to make a better life for herself and her children, so she worked three jobs and they got by until Lexi had a medical crisis. She could no longer work and once again, she lost everything: the car she had worked so hard to buy, their home and their stability. With only the clothes on their backs and what they could carry, she and her children became homeless. But she refused to become hopeless.

After having surgery, she knew she needed bed rest, so she used the little money they had for one night in a motel. Then she returned to the streets with her children.

What is remarkable is that during the 10 months they spent on the streets, she kept all of her children in school. It was not easy—the children were judged and oftentimes ridiculed by students and teachers for their appearance and lack of grooming. There was humiliation and health struggles, but she was determined to push on. She knew she was the only person who could make it better for her family, sharing that help is hard to come by because “people do not like ugly and dirty.”

Lexi finally was able to find a job and was able to get her family into an apartment. It was not much, but she finally felt she could breathe. Then tragedy struck again: Her oldest son had what she thought was just strep throat. As he continued to decline, she knew it was something more serious. When the infection moved into his blood stream, he had a heart attack.

Life for her family took another heartbreaking turn when her younger son began to have severe breathing problems, which landed him in the intensive care unit. The medication he had been receiving for routine asthma-type issues was not the right medication; the medication caused his lungs to start shutting down.

As both boys fought for their lives, Lexi was advised that Medicaid did not cover the medications and treatments her sons desperately needed. As she tried to cover the $700-plus a month cost for medications and treatments, she could no longer afford the payments on the car. But she did not give up. She walked the more than 4 miles to work because she knew she needed to keep pushing forward, saying, “It takes an awful lot of strength to keep going.”

This is when I met Lexi. She came to me because she was desperately in need of a car. I had a neighbor tell me about a week prior to my meeting with Lexi that they had a car they wanted to donate. I told my neighbor about Lexi, and he agreed to transfer the car title to her for $1.

Lexi was going to have a car; it was in good shape and did not need any major repairs. My neighbor was thrilled to help Lexi and her family. She could get to work, and her children could arrive at school and doctor appointments energized and ready to take on the day.

She proudly reported that shortly after receiving the car, she’d be able to take on a second job and drive her oldest son to his last cardiologist appointment. He survived nearly losing his life, and both boys are doing much better. Through it all, her faith has remained strong. She has taught her children that “God did not put you on this Earth to fail.”

While there is a long way to go, Lexi knows they will make it. She wanted my neighbor who gave her the car to know that his generosity means everything to her and her children. She also wants everyone to remember that “just because you are struggling, does not mean that you are a bad person. God does provide through the hearts of others.”

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. You can contact him at dbethuram@archindy.org.) †

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