Sundays. A time to relax and find rest.
The reality is Sundays is a day (for me at least) to catch up on chores, such as cleaning, gardening (or at least pretend to 'garden.), and LAUNDRY.
In our complex, we have a common laundry room, which runs on what else? Coins. Living in an age where practically no one carries change, I decided to take walk down the street to my local liquor store and get some coin-age.
Walking up to the door a voice calls out to me. A man about in his mid 40's. I can't really see him but I hear him.
'Spare change, ma'am?!' His voice weak and crackled.
I tried to make eye contact from a far and mumbled something about giving him change on the way out.
I didn't stop to think.
The past couple of weeks, my perspective on homelessness has changed dramatically.
We are so quick to help the homeless. Either out of guilt or fear. We give them the things we think they need. Food. Money. Clothes. Anything that will stop them from talking to us.
When we give, it's so easy. We feel good about ourselves. We can check the 'good deed of the week' off our list. On the surface we are doing a good thing. We are called to help one another.
But go deeper.
We are feeding into a cycle of dependency. The homelessness become nothing more then receivers. We rob them of dignity. When we give, give, and give it sends the message the 'I am better than you, you have nothing to offer me.'
A unhealthy relationship forms based on who possesses power.
I am seeking to build relationships with the homeless. To discover the gifts and talents of those in my community and develop those things.
'Pity weeps and walks away, compassion comes to help and stay.'
I no longer want to help out of pity or guilt, I desire to be compassionate and stay and invest in those around me.
It is so easy to give hand outs. But it takes true patience and compassion to stay and invest, and walk alongside those in poverty.
I am 'relocated.' I have committed to make Bellflower not only a place I live, but home. I desire to understand the problems that my neighbors face and begin to look for REAL solutions.
So now to get off my high horse. I bet you are all wondering what came next.
While inside, all my knowledge and new perspectives came flooding to me.
'No, Rachel don't be a fool. Buy him food and talk with him.'
And that's what I did.
So I approached the man. And as I got closer. I could see that his appearance was unkempt, but nothing of someone who was chronically homeless.
I felt like the wool was pulled over my eyes. I felt foolish. I swallowed my pride and began a conversation with him.
'So where are you staying?'
'I live in an apartment down the street.'
Disappointment and anger set in. Here I am trying to show love to a neighbor and this man isn't even homeless at all.
Out of frustration, I handed him a dollar and walked away, not even looking back.
Did I apply my new found knowledge to this situation. Did I handle it the 'right' way?
I let anger and frustration get the best of me. Instead of asking him why. I took the easy way out and fed into that cycle of dependency because in that moment, it was far more easier than asking him why he was out begging for money.
I think this shows that I am still learning. Even though I am learning so much about what it means to 'love my neighbor' I am still in the process of learning how to actually live it out in my words and actions.
It is my prayer that I will live your truth out. To share in the sufferings and pains of others. To stay and invest in the lives of your children. May Bellflower become my community, my home. Help me to learn from my mistakes and forgive me of my foolishness, my pride, and my disobedience. Grant me feet, hands, and a swift tongue that is ready with the gospel.
Will you banish the lies that the enemy feeds me, telling me that your good work is not possible. That I am not fit for this ministry. Will you help me to constantly see myself as your beloved. A child called to do your good work. May I feel your presence as I go out and engage with my community. Grant me boldness, use me for your kingdom.
Lastly, I pray for my neighbors. Will you be ever present in this place.
Thanks Friends! I promise I will update this more frequently. It's been hard to balance 3 jobs and a social life. But I guess this comes with being a grown up! :)