Up until a very few years ago, I saw homeless people as ones who deserved to be homeless for one reason or another. I instantly imagined that they must have done the very worst anyone could do to not have a home. I felt nothing for them. There was no pity for them at all. Feelings of shame could rock me to the very core, but I do know that, at that time in my life, I was ignorant of so much.
Today, as I sit here and type this blog post for whomever to read, I want you to know that I am not as ignorant as I once was. What I know now is that hard times can fall on anyone, at any moment in time. I could be homeless next month. Next week. You could be, too.
Some causes and reasons for homelessness include those that can be read here.
I know there are people who mess up all on their own, and they mess up on purpose. With that being said, I have to understand that those people also need help. What is wrong with those who purposely sabotage or destroy their lives to the point of homelessness? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that something is terribly wrong.
I had an encounter with a homeless man yesterday, and he warmed my heart. He didn’t beg me for anything. As I talked with him, I began to gain a respect for him. He talked about having God’s “good grace on me.” That threw me for a loop. Even more, he stated, “I pray that you have abundant blessings.” Ummm…can you say choked up? Here is a man who has no guaranteed shelter over his head on a daily basis, in dirty layered-on clothes, and with what seems to be everything he owns in a backpack praying that I have abundant blessings. I almost just typed, “What is wrong with this picture?”. But, I think the more appropriate question is, “What is right with this picture?”.
This man talks of having God’s “good grace,” yet he lives on the streets, eats whatever he can from wherever, and he wears dirty, smelly clothes every single day and night.
I couldn’t stop shaking his hand and smiling. I just wanted to spend the whole day speaking with him. Because someone looks less fortunate than we do, we have a tendency to feel sorry for them or talk poorly against them. What if they look at those who have and feel sorry for or talk poorly against them? What if we who have are really the less fortunate? What if we are less fortunate because we don’t feel (or recognize ourselves) as blessed or graced as this homeless man does? That would be a horrific shame, wouldn’t it?
Here’s something to think about. All of us who believe heaven is home are essentially homeless. If heaven is home, and I believe it is, are we any better than those walking the streets looking for a roof over their heads or food in their mouths? Are we really any better off? Are we to consider ourselves better people because we have a job, a car, a place to lay our heads every night?
Be grateful. Be thankful. Be joyful.
Love with all of your heart. Give what you can.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” — Matthew 25:40
You could be “the least of these” at any given second.