I don’t know. The burden just fell on my lap like a ton of bricks. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it, because honestly, I wasn’t looking for it…. or maybe I was because I prayed a dangerous prayer:
Give me Your eyes, Lord. Yikes. He did.
Once I started to see differently, there they were. Everywhere. I wasn’t even downtown. I saw them in suburbia; carrying bags of pop cans they had searched for at the gas station, pushing carts of hard earned items that could get them a few dollars, on the street wanting to wash my wind shield, and even in the local Starbucks warming up on a cold day. I didn’t have to go far to see them, at least in Calgary.
I didn’t know what to do with them. I would drive past and carry on with my day, but the thought of them would eat at me throughout my day. It wasn’t that nagging, guilty feeling of, “You should do something or your heartless”, kind of feeling. No, it was more an unsettling because I knew when it came to homelessness, I was seriously clueless. I wasn’t happy to stay clueless… I wanted answers.
I can’t explain how I started to find answers. I just looked a bit on twitter, facebook, traveling around the city, and found answers flying at me from every which way. One dear friend worked at one of our shelters, our church was involved with a Christmas banquet for a centre dedicated to get homeless men back on their feet, I landed a meeting with the C.O.O. of one of our main shelters in the city, our youth pastor lived on the street for a couple of days along with other youth pastors to learn about homelessness…. the list goes on and on. Now, I find myself being faced with homelessness almost on a daily basis and just laugh at the irony! Like today when I met up with http://raisetheroof.org (helping homeless youth) who were fundraising in my grocery store!
My book, Culture Rebel and even the idea of being a “culture rebel” are not about exclusively about helping the homeless, per say. I have blogged quite a bit about it lately and wanted to clarify that. However, Culture Rebel is about rebelling against what society tells us is “normal”. You can say it’s “normal” for a homeless man to bike down a busy street with his bags of pop cans loaded on his back and have everyone drive by without even noticing.
And when did it become “normal” for some to deserve to have a warm place to live, while others don’t? I’m beginning to see how complex homelessness is; from those who work, to those who are too mentally ill to support themselves, to the stereotypical addict. Yet, my reality is: without my line of credit, our family could very easily be in the same situation with the cost of living we face. The biggest shocker I’ve discovered is that many homeless ARE working and just can’t afford rent. That, to me, is a huge injustice.
Being a culture rebel is also about being a culture maker. Someone who sees the brokenness of humanity and responds. My heart has been moved by words of scripture that talk about God defending the outcast, the lonely, the orphan and marginalized. We may not all be “called” to work with the homeless, but we are all called to care. I pray my research can bring some understanding to such a complex subject.
My heart is moved beyond measure. I can’t just carry on with business as usual. I must learn and understand how I, in my normal, ordinary life, can help. I am broken with compassion, but I know having compassion isn’t enough; I need knowledge and direction. I have been actively searching out answers and what I’m finding is shocking me. I can’t go back now.
It’s funny, here I am a mom of two young boys thinking, “What can I possibly do??” Us moms can feel so limited in what we can contribute, but I’m honestly finding that there’s more we can do than we think!
There are answers out there for those who want them
There are people to see if our eyes are open
There are things we can do, if we’re willing to make time to;
- carry bus tickets in our wallet to give
- meet with an organization you know who works with the homeless (always start with what you know first)
- ask questions
- don’t be afraid of not understanding everything
- ask what you can do to help – even with your kids!
- search the internet. It’s free and can be done in PJ’s to-boot!
Follow the blogs in the next couple of weeks and prepare to be amazed at who really make up the homeless population.
And then pray: “God, give me Your eyes”…. if you dare.