A human being living daily in homelessness: “This isn’t where I want to be. I used to be a manager of a company, this is not a permanent place I want to be (she covers her mouth while she speaks). All these people come in here and bless us so much during these difficult times. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Happy belated Valentine’s Day! If you are like me or have ever been in my position, this can feel like a somewhat overrated and lonely holiday. One of my purposes in life (I believe since the day I was born) is to notice and give voice to the invisible, to heal the sick and give hope to the hopeless in any way I can. However, I realize I am not a great orator for change, a Director of a charity, a Doctor or a Pastor. Therefore, this can seem like a lofty calling at times. But where I am in my life at this very moment, I can remind people of their value to God and that, though they may feel like it, they are not alone. I felt a tug to travel to a homeless shelter in Chicago that I feel is doing great things to help, redeem and empower the homeless. I made and printed out lots of invitations for support as well as ordered plenty of gloves and socks since it gets cold in Chicago in the wintertime. Slowly, I began packing up brown paper bags garnished with ribbons and filled with candy, moist towelettes, cough drops and other winter necessities.
162 bags total were packed, which may not seem like much but since I had three weeks to accomplish this along with the help of my faithful family, I believe the effort was not in vain. Bags of Love I called them. Yes, I know it is cheesy. But I figured since it was for Valentine’s Day and I was going to remind some important people that they are loved, Bags of Love suited the initiative quite well.
This blog is not about me however, so I will share with you the story of a lady I met in the shelter. I will call her S. I had been squatting on the floor chatting with another woman that was seated while my parents handed out the Bags of Love. A woman came over to me, she was wearing sunglasses though we were indoors and had long hair that was pulled up in a cloth. She squatted by me to chat. One thing I have learned so far is to hear an impactful part of almost any person’s story, simply ask them about their family. They will have plenty to say, good or bad.
“All three of my brothers died from drug overdose. It’s just me and my sister left in the family. I have twelve grand-children and I’m 64 years old. I went to the hospital a while back with stomach pain and underwent multiple procedures for gall stones. I went into a coma and was in that state for a while, woke up and went back into a coma for three months. They called everyone in, my family and grand kids because they were all going to say goodbye to me. But I woke up. I had to go through lots of therapy and recovery. To learn to walk again. They had tubes in me for so long. But I thank God every day for blessing me, I’m here and He is so good all the time. The ladies here, they may complain and say, ‘Oh, I want what’s in your bag,’ or be looking at someone else and say they want what they have. I am so grateful that you came and thought of us and it is such a blessing to us for people to provide for us even the basic things. Remember this, you are doing God’s work” ~S
God’s work is not something reserved for only great orators for change, Directors of non-profits, Doctors or Pastors. There is work uniquely reserved for each one of us. When you feel lonely, like I do at times, remember there are those who feel just as lonely or possibly more so. I would encourage you to take a step of faith and reach outside of your comfort zone. You have no idea who God will use to change your life, though your goal may have been to change theirs.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10