I’ve had the privilege to serve those experiencing homelessness for well over a decade. As part of the leadership team at our local Mission, my greatest and most joy-filled times have come when I’m teaching and interacting with our guests. It’s what I’ve been called to do. Helping those who have struggled financially for a variety of reasons and are considered somehow less than the rest of us. In God’s eyes that is simply not true. The working poor and underserved in our community are the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. Whether born into poverty, having made decisions that have led to desperate times, with mental health issues, or being the victim of other peoples’ choices, all deserve to be treated well and given the opportunity to start anew. To understand the depth of God’s love for them and delve into the issues that caused them to be homeless. We give them that opportunity when making the decision to understand and engage in their own healing journey.
Many of our guests have cycled through the mission countless times. That’s ok, we see small steps most times that eventually lead to a better place. Truthfully though, there are many that continue in the patterns of behavior that led to their current experience. It matters not to us; we simply want to serve and get to observe miraculous turnarounds when God is brought into the equation. Not always, but very often.
My reaction to those guests that hang their heads in shame upon their return is consistently what God would ask for all of us. I encourage each with the truth that God loves them, that they’re a Prince or Princess of the High King, His child, and created for a purpose. That’s different than what’s true. What’s true may be a relapse to alcohol or drugs, a victim of other choices in relationships gone bad, or a failure in handling finances responsibly, and they’re back at the Mission. It may be true but it’s not THE TRUTH. God adores every one of them and has a pathway toward restoration in Him and a different way of living. Often that timing is different than theirs, ours, and mine. But that matters not, we are simply called to love. Jesus’ greatest commandments.
Often the losses along the way are significant. Family, friends, money, things, and no home; left to scrounge for the next meal or sleep on the streets.
Losses don’t define us any more than false beliefs. Losses empower us to examine them, mourn them, and absorb them. All as part of our spiritual formation and journey through this unfair life.
And that’s the Memo.
Colleen from Our Upcoming Book, Embracing Brokenness