Every homeless woman was once a little girl. I imagine her as dirty and disgruntled as she is right now, but I doubt she was that way. What if she loved the color pink, and ballet, and twirled while holding onto her daddy’s finger? What if she was bruised and broken, wondering why her daddy hurt her? I may never know what her past looked like, but when I see a homeless woman, I must not forget that she was once a little girl.
As I speak to her I wonder what it must be like to feel so unwanted?
I ask her, “Can you stay with your sister?”
“No,” she replies.
“Well maybe you can stay with your cousin?”
“They don’t want me,” she replies.
“Well have you applied for housing?”
“I have, but I don’t meet the qualifications,” she replies.
No doubts the woman may have burned some bridges. But haven’t we all? And what does it matter?
Burned bridges are in the past, and I want them to give her another chance.
Maybe even more what I want is for her to give herself another chance.
Poverty has a way of putting blinder glasses on. All you cn see is the moment in front of you, because all that really matters is that you get your children that next meal and that you find a safe place to sleep that night. Dreams of going to school so that you could have a higher income, or considering looking for a different job just seem out of the question.
At times I look at her, and I am ashamed to admit that I think things like “dirty” or “broken” or “too far gone”.
I look at her addiction, or her behavior patterns, or her history and I see all of the black marks. I see everything that she has stacked up against her. I become jaded.
How on earth will I ever begin to help her?
I back away because I feel helpless. The prideful part of me would rather not even try than try and fail.
So I decide that the titles she has given herself – failure, shameful , and dirty -will be ones I accept for her as well.
Rather than pushing her to move forward so that she may make the needed changes or taking the time to teach her, I resign myself to the conclusions she has already made. That she is a failure.
Then Jesus looks me square in the eyes and says, “Don’t you call my princess dirty.”
“Don’t call her a failure. She has hit on some hard times, but haven’t you? Just because I saved you from poverty doesn’t mean you couldn’t be in her shoes in an instant!”
“Help her find restoration in ME – that is your job.”
And isn’t that all of our jobs? Be it at a homeless shelter, in our very own neighborhood, or even with a family member or friend…
Whoever it is that God has placed in our lives, let us not be another person who merely accepts the negative label they have already placed upon themselves. Rather, let us be the person who comes along and dares to share God’s Word which illuminates the dark places. The places she is afraid to go, so that she may heal…and move forward. Let’s not call her dirty…let’s help her to see that broken at the foot of the cross is beautiful.