Monday, August 23, 2010

Homeless and Humbled.

Homeless people. What do I think of them? I'm ashamed to say that I tend to look down on them, such as a situation that happened the other day:


As I sit in Starbucks, coffee in hand and Bible on the table, a homeless man walks over and stands next to me, talking to himself. I look at him, studying him carefully.

What do I do? Do I smile at him? Do I offer him my extra banana walnut bread? Do I simply pray for him silently?

No - I don't do any of these things. The only thing I do is slowly, carefully pull my purse closer to me, thinking that one sudden move will cause him to let loose. He moves away from me, beginning to shuffle through the crowd. He poiltely asks people if he can get through. All the people he passes just stare at him as he leaves without saying anything.

With head down and shoulders hunched over, he exits.

I sit at the window, dumbstruck at what I had just done. As I look out into the street with thoughts racing through my mind, I see him. He walks past my window, as as he does, he glances back at me. Sadness fills my heart when my eyes meet his. He doesn't look at me for long, but I will never forget the hopelessness I saw in those eyes as he passed.

And just like that, he is gone.

I am left sitting with my fancy drink and bread, dumbfounded, convicted, and shamed. What did I just do? Who am I, that I would ignore someone who is made in God's image, just as I am?

I am completely humbled and broken. As I walk out into the street, still holding my drink, the tears begin to flow. I begin to feel so selfish, spoiled, and ungrateful. What have I ever done to help the homeless in this city? I have so often just ignored them, turning a blind eye to their pain. I have been filled with so much judgment, believing that it is their fault that they are homeless, because they must have a drinking or drug problem, and not stopping to realize that they are human beings just like me, and God loves them just as much as he loves me. God even has a special affection and heart for the homeless.

And here I am, looking down on them and feeling superior to them.

Eric gave me some wonderful insight in saying that the reason I am where I am is not because I am so great or I have gotten myself there, but because I have people in my life who love me and want to see me succeed. He then explained that for most of the homeless people, the reason they are on the streets is because they do not have those connections. They have either lost all family connections, or because of intense pain and hurt in their lives, they choose not to use those connections.

I used to pride myself on being a kind and compassionate person. I don't view myself so highly anymore. I don't know how, and I don't know when, but I know that I now have a desire to serve the homeless in some capacity, and learn who they are. I want to be rid of my presuppositions and my judgments, and see them as the image of God that they really are.

I hope you do the same.

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