This morning I witnessed something so heartbreaking that I felt compelled to share it in hopes that something good could come from an awful action.
I was parked at a library in Atlantic Beach awaiting their opening at 10 a.m. It was just about time to gather up my belongings and walk inside when I heard a man shouting something over and over. My instant response was that it was a case of road rage and nothing too uncommon. But as the shouting became louder and clearer I began to understand the words he was screaming: "Get a job you worthless human being. Get a job! Get a job" This man was screaming these words at an old man attempting to cross the street that was in tattered clothing and appeared to be homeless. My heart shattered as I wanted to instantly run across the street and wrap my arms around this man and simultaneously punch this ignorant man in the face. I watched this old man continue to make his way across the street and slowly continue walking away.
I will never be able to understand how a human being can treat another person with such judgment and disrespect. No one has any right to assume the circumstances that another person is in and the events that have brought them to that place. This man who appeared to be homeless may not be. He was someone's son and he may be someone's father. The more I picture this man as a father, the more I can't help imagining the pain I would feel if my own father was in this scenario and someone else treated him like those men did.
What is there to do about this issue? Homelessness is something that will never go away unless we choose to love our neighbors and serve one another. Yes there are so many organizations who give away food, a warm place to sleep, and other essential items that people need to get on their lives started again. These organizations are incredible and need our support. However, there is another step that we can take as human beings to show love and compassion to another person who so desperately needs to feel that they are important and matter in this world. This action requires us to step out of our comfort zone and show love through a variety of different ways. Those ways could include a basic acknowledgement/small conversation with a homeless person that could make a significant difference in their day. So many times we will not even look the homeless in the eye as if they are so below us that they don't deserve our time. Show these people RESPECT and recognize their value as an individual. Yes, there are many people in our world who are not taking ownership of their mistakes or taking the steps they need to start a new chapter. But it is not our place to decide this and judge those people for what we think they should be doing. By showing these people love and respect you may be the person who encourages them to turn their life around. You could be that difference.
Different ways to serve the homeless:
My favorite idea: Blessing Bags – A large Ziploc bag filled with items that can be given to the homeless. Items can include: a list of resources available to them, toothbrush, toothpaste, granola bars, soap, etc.
Visit Publix & stock up on buy 1 get 1 free items that you can keep in the back of your car and distribute to people who you can tell need it. I keep granola bars in the backseat and share them with people who are begging for money on the corners. They need nourishment, not change.
Visit a thrift store or even your own closet & gather old sweaters and blankets. As winter approaches and cold nights are near, distribute the items to people who are walking around at night with nothing to keep them warm. I strongly believe in praying that God may lead you to someone who needs these items and He will make that person clear to you.
Thanksgiving leftovers. How many of us will have food that will go to waste after Thanksgiving? We have so much more than we need. Share your leftovers with someone who has nowhere to go and no family to be near.
Another Thanksgiving idea is to look for people in your life who might not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. This could be a co-worker who you know has relocated & is away from their loved ones or someone you have recently met that you don't know well but you know they are struggling. Invite these people over for Thanksgiving and show love to those who may feel unloved.