Will You Acknowledge The Needy?

I’m hijacking the post I had scheduled for today because my heart is heavy…special thanks to Dennis Cardiff at GottaFindAHome for igniting and inspiring my heart to further open itself to the needs of the homeless.

Two years ago my husband and I decided to move back to California’s Central Valley to live in community with family. We thought that was best for our kids, now I can see God knew it was best for my husband and I. Without realizing it, I had insulated myself from the surrounding suffering. Wrapped in my own bubble world, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of brokenness we were about to encounter in our hometown return. Hopeless and discouraged hearts were palpable remains from the economic collapse of 2008. I know I’m not alone, that many of you reading this live in communities that have been beaten down by a struggling economy.

Romanticizing suffering, movies allow our hearts to swell after being pricked with sadness, we pay money for this experience, yet we run away from any potential sting that may be inflicted by the earnest suffering before our eyes.

HomelessWomanDo you ever look away from the downhearted woman, her weathered face morose while asking for a hand-out at the grocery store entrance?

Begrudge the scruffy man wearing all the clothes he owns despite the raging heat while holding a sign for help on curb?

HomelessShoppingCart

Avoid eye contact with the vagrant passing by pushing a rickety shopping cart with his life’s possessions piled high in garbage bags?

I have. The surge of emotions I feel, anger and frustration that the guy isn’t picking himself up by the ol’ boot straps followed by grief and sadness that I cannot singlehandedly remediate his life, all stem from pride and arrogance.  I undervalue the Hand of Grace that provides easily forgetting I’m one small step away from being destitute.

You are too.

HomelessUsedToBeYourNeighbor

Those of us who are blessed with the provision of a roof above our heads, a bed to sleep in, a car to drive and food to eat take it for granted. Worse, complaints about the leaky roof, mattress that makes a back ache or car that isn’t current replace somber gratitude.

Pridefully assuming the less fortunate have done something to deserve their “lot in life”, that for the willing, the ladder always climbs up, we sit on thrones erected for ourselves with the crowning glory of our personal accomplishments.

While I have had the experience of a homeless woman throwing fresh food on the ground because I would not give her money after hearing her story with my heart, that is the single exception. The “bless you”, smiles and eyes swimming in gratitude for simply being acknowledged overflow my heart and tangibly scream to my children the importance of looking beyond ourselves.

Etched in my mind is my two-year old often asking, “Who’s that mama?” and I reply, “A person like you and me.”

HomelessIHaveANameHeart Check: Today, will you commit to leaving some snacks in your car or purse that you can share? Will you determine to have eyes and a heart to see and feel, to have gratitude and compassion held in hands ready to give and receive?

If that seems like a leap to commit to, will you simply resolve to acknowledge the existence and presence of these individuals by offering eye contact and a sincere, “hello”?

Kneejerk reaction- tell me yours now!

Care to take it further?

The disciples asked Jesus regarding a blind man, “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?” What do you think? Are people being “punished” for wrong behavior when they find themselves destitute or is it for God’s glory?

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