Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Homeless and Hurting

This post is going to be pretty personal, which caught me off guard when I realized how close to my heart it truly hits. I had been thinking of posting about this topic for a while, as it was something that recently has been just hitting mine and Adam's hearts at the same time in the new area we live in... but until recently I didn't realize how truly connected I am and have been prepared for this cause. Its odd, because I don't really have any true experience with this issue, but so many things that have happened in my life are the same troubles that affect so many of the people who are in the position I am about to talk about. So please, I am going to ask that if you do choose to comment, be careful with my heart.

As you know, we have moved recently to a new part of town and are finally in a home of our own (albeit owned by my parents technically, but still "ours"). We have been so blessed and are so thankful to be here, we truly are. However, the area we live in is not considered "wealthy". We are near the edges of a couple very wealthy parts of the city, but we are a suburb of those I guess you could say! However, I wouldn't call our area particularly dangerous or anything either. Its fairly normal, but it is definitely more city like than we were accustomed to where we lived previously. Almost anytime you go somewhere, you will see a homeless person. Usually they are on the side of the road near stop lights asking for money or food, but you can often see them just wandering around, camped out off to the side of a street, or eating some cheap food in a parking lot.

It really breaks my heart, because some of these people are out there just because they can't find a job in this economy and one thing led to another and they ended up on the streets - which hits so close to home because when I was pregnant with Will, Adam lost his job unexpectedly, and was unable to find work for almost 6 months. If it had not been for unemployment, and both of our families giving us money to live off of every month, we would never have made it, and would have been homeless ourselves. But I know there are other homeless people out there, who are homeless because they aren't looking for a job, or can't hold one down. I know they suffer from mental disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, and it wounds me. I want to reach out to them even more and hug them - because I know what it is like. I myself have never been an alcoholic or drug user (let alone abuser). But, my dad has. And I do know what it is like to suffer from depression and other mental illness, which makes it impossible sometimes to just go about your daily life. On days when you can't even hardly drag yourself out of bed, and even if you are awake you are unproductive and your hours just disappear, it is impossible to hold down a job in that condition. All you want to do is run away and escape and hide in bed. It just all seems better alone and in bed, because everything else doesn't seem to matter anyway. Either that or it just hurts. My heart breaks and wants to reach out to these people who are suffering in their bodies, minds, and spirit. I know what it is like to cry out to God to be  healed of these problems, or for Him to grant healing to someone you love and need in your life so desperately, and for that prayer to seemingly go unanswered.

But I have learned that all of the trials and hurts we all go through, all of our deepest struggles, will be turned from evil and pain into goodness for God's purposes. Someday we shall all come out of these struggles and God will be glorified when we see the wonderful healing and purpose behind all of these things. One day recently, after church, my little family had gone to lunch and were heading over to a gardening store to browse and grab a few things. As we passed a spot that I often see homeless people asking for food or money, I said to Adam that I felt like we needed to do something for them. I had heard before of the idea of making little bags filled with food, snacks, notes of encouragement, Bible verses or a Bible, bottled water, etc. to keep in the car and hand to homeless people as you pass by them in your vehicle. I brought this up to him, and he without hesitation said DO IT. He had been having the same thought in his mind recently that we needed to do something to show these people that we care.

So, our family has started our own little tiny ministry if you will. We have paper bags that we have filled with things, and we have a little plastic box in our car that we keep 3-4 bags in at all times, so that whenever we happen to pass someone, we are ready to show them the love of Christ. Our first bags were not perfect or what I ultimately want to give out, but they had water, and some snacks, and a little note in there with a Bible verse and letting them know that we had said a prayer for them. I don't tell you this because I want you the attention or pat on the back for doing something... but this has just been touching my heart SO much lately, and it is such a simple thing that can be done by any family in any place in this country. If you feel at all pulled towards these people, who are children of God and still in need of His and our love, I would ask that you consider doing this with your family as well. My children have benefited so much from making these bags as a family, and are always so excited to hand one out the window to someone in need and to tell them that God loves them. We are saved to do good works, we are called to love our neighbor, and we are called to serve the least of these.

As I give these bags out, and pray for each of these people we meet, I am reminded how if not by the grace of God, that could be me. That could be my Dad (thank God he is not homeless, although he and his family all struggle greatly day by day). That could be any of us, but by God's grace. I am more thankful for the things I do have, the people I have, the love and grace of God. I have no many struggles and personal sins to deal with and get over. Oh my they are so great! But I feel healing in this ministry. I feel hope and love and peace and goodness. And I pray that even just 1 soul is helped by a silly little bag I threw together in my kitchen, and that just 1 person out there is as blessed by it as I have been.

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