Quite often my commute home is through tear filled, streaky light, eyes.
Tonight was no different.
On the way home from every outreach, we have a debrief to talk about what we saw, felt, or experienced out on the streets that day. This helps us as a team to grow by seeing something we had at first only seen from our tiny perspective. Seeing it from each other’s eyes is so great because we are all different. How I see things is different from how my friend Michelle, for instance, sees things because of our different life experiences. .
I see things as someone who has been doing this full-time for 5 years, as a dad, a husband, a man, son, caucasian, midwesterner, good family background, Christian, … and the list could go on. When someone tells me something on the street, I have to wade through all of those past experiences in order to take in what I am being told, for better or worse. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes I have to push through those first thought judgments, in order to see each person for who they actually are, not just my label of who I am expecting them to be.
This is why it’s good to hear and try to feel life from different perspectives, because ultimately, it helps me grow in my capacity for loving and caring for the people we meet, because I can see how others see them too.
Tonight, during debrief, one of our volunteers, Michelle, posed this question that I love and is so much at the center of what we have the opportunity to be a part of each day we go out.
“How do you teach someone to have hope?”
She was having a conversation with a man who is hopeless. He sees no chance of anything changing for the better, because it’s been so bad for so long. Years and years of trying things and nothing working out, or even if something worked out, he ended up sabotaging himself from the beginning and becoming the catalyst of the failure.
This question is a killer. I’d say even more of a killer to someone like me, because, there is not one time in my life in which I have been hopeless. Instead of hopeless, I am hope-filled. Because of my eternal hope in Jesus, that provides me with so much easier access to hope everywhere else. Fertility issues? Yep, but look at my beautiful little girls. Job issues along the way, oh yeah, but wow, look where I get to be and what I get to do now! Parents are divorced, yes, crummy, but wow, I have a great family and we love each other despite all that… And on and on. I have hope and it is great, but then back to the question that our volunteer posed.
“How do you teach someone to have hope?”
Love well. Build relationship. Listen.
Our team did a phenomenal job loving this man and teaching hope tonight.
First off they showed up. Last week, Michelle and another volunteer Bill, met this man and scheduled to have dinner together again the next week. Skip to tonight and right on time our team met him and they were off. (He said he was waiting for this all week!). This is HUGE! The start of hope there, when you say you are going to be somewhere or do something, do it. That helps to build hope - especially for people who are use to people saying they will do something and it not happening. Hope is taught through intentional time, genuine love, and many other things along the way. But, the best part about it is there is time to walk along the road per se, or see it through to completion. We aren’t going anywhere. We as a whole are committed to loving him until he finds the hope he needs to move on.
This is where God has called us and we are committed to it!
We go out every week at the same time in order to build relationships. It’s not about giving out stuff, it’s about loving people well. Loving people like Jesus would love people if he were walking around NYC today.
That’s how I look at it each day. That’s how hope is built. And, that’s part of the reason why I end up crying as I drive home most days. I get to both personally and through my leading of others, rebuild hope in empty, dark, and deserted areas.
That’s amazing and I feel totally unworthy and humbly in tears that I was chosen to love people like this - especially when I am so flawed.
Thank you all for letting me show you things from my perspective and from that of my friends on the street. Please fight hard, like I have to daily, to push out the quick judgements we put on people without truly knowing them. Take the time every once in awhile to stop and hear their story - you never know what someone has gone through before you are encountering them in that place of solitude. Also, this isn’t just a homeless thing, this is a human being thing. This happens at work, church, and the nicest town in your area.
We label people based on one example of them - usually at their worst - and don’t give them a chance to grow past that.
Let’s do better.
Much love all!