3 Thoughts | Judging The Homeless
Homeless. This is a reality for many and this weighs heavily on my heart.
Homelessness exists – even in paradise.
As I shared in my last blog, I am an empath. I feel deeply and if I could, I’d fix all the pain in the world all by myself. In addition to my sensitive heart, I also have experience with life. I have gained A LOT of life experience during my relatively short thirty-five years here and that has included a great deal of adversity and pain, which also means a whole lot of insight that makes me think differently about certain issues. This includes the subject of homelessness.
I know there are a good number of people who think poorly of the homeless and this weighs heavily on my heart for many reasons. Since 2002, midway through my undergraduate studies in psychology and pre-medicine, I have felt led to serve those who are afflicted by homelessness, and the near-fatal accident that affected me back in 2010, showed me that in a matter of seconds everything can change beyond one’s control.
So anyways, just recently, I saw a post on Facebook that shared the idea of doing a reverse advent box for those in need this coming Christmas. I thought it was such a great idea! Every day in December you put one item in the reverse advent box or as my friend from South Africa calls them, Santa Shoe Boxes. By the time Christmas comes, you have a nice gift to give to someone who is currently less fortunate. I think this is such a nice act of kindness, generosity, and gratefulness. I also felt led to share this idea in a group of Moms that I have the honor of being an admin to on Facebook, and then, I thought about the fact that I am an ex-pat in Grand Cayman. It is me, my husband, and our two children here. Our extended family is all back in the States. Celebrating Christmas is different for us here and since we moved here, I thought that it would be so nice to do something like serve at a soup kitchen on Christmas. Then, I felt further inspired by this reverse advent idea. I thought how nice it would be to have some local restaurants provide a nice meal and some barbers/hairstylists provide a fresh haircut as volunteers gather to deliver these boxes to those who could benefit from some unexpected love. So, I put my feelers out there and shared part of my vision with those who I am connected with via social media.
To my delight, I received a good amount of positive support. Moms “on island” started offering their time to volunteer and I became more excited about seeing this vision become a reality this Christmas.
But then, came the judgment.
One woman (and unfortunately, a restaurant owner on this small island) replied:
“They need to go to rehab first I will not keep giving to people that only care about their habit.”
and then I responded with 3 thoughts, which I felt led to share here with you. I hope in sharing that my experiences will positively affect your mindset in regards to those who are affected by homelessness.
These are my thoughts and shared experiences in response:
I respectfully and completely disagree with you. You know when we were neighbors, Tim and I were on the brink of homelessness? If it weren’t for some outside help to scrape by, we’d be on the streets. We don’t drink (haven’t since the night I got pregnant with Jack – March 2012 😉 lol), smoke, and/or do any sort of drugs. Let’s not stereotype those who are homeless.
Also, as an aside, in medical school I did a research project on homelessness. The largest percentage of homeless in the States were women and children who left abusive situations. In undergrad, I went to Wayne State in Detroit, MI. A large percentage of the homeless were mentally ill and had nowhere to go once homes that served them closed down. In addition, while in medical school, I was a group leader for a project in New York. The homeless that I saw there were women and Moms who were just about back on their own two feet. Yes, there are some who have addiction habits who are out on the streets, but we need to look within before making such strong statements because many would be considered alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, who still have a roof over their heads.
and one more thought, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the dependency issues seen with some individuals who are homeless arise out of their situation. I think back to how I used to “cope” before taking my own journey of healing and that included drinking. Example: after my Dad died in 2008 while I was a 3rd-year medical student. I drank excessively to numb my pain, so I wouldn’t feel. I shopped excessively because retail therapy gave me a temporary high. I spent a lot of borrowed money. It took me 3 years after my Dad died and my accident to forcefully slow me down, to grieve, and to learn to cope effectively. As a solution-based thinker, I believe that giving those with addiction issues (who may also be homeless at the moment) some love and with time coping strategies and tools to rebuild their life is worthwhile. I also believe in treating these individuals with dignity. They are human beings and as my experiences have shown me, it could happen to any one of us, including you. In situations where it is easy to turn one’s back, I always think “how would I handle this situation if it were me” and in all honesty, you never know if it is not you.
My response led to being “de-friended”, which is okay. I actually anticipated that this would happen, because what I shared makes one think about their own behaviors that are reflected in their words. I hope, with time, my words and experiences will soften this woman’s heart. Or, life may have other ideas. As I shared, you never know how life will affect you and homelessness does not discriminate. One with much today may have little to nothing tomorrow.
Thank you for joining me in this space today. I appreciate your time in reading, thinking, and making positive personal changes to make for a better tomorrow for you and all who cross paths with you.
P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this, then please let me know by liking, sharing, and/or leaving me a comment! If you are currently going through a tough financial situation, then I pray peace over you as you allow yourself to trust the journey and know that you are not alone during this tough life season. If you are experiencing difficulties in regards to your finances, then I hope that my journey will continue to serve as encouragement and what you need when you feel like you are ready to give up.