I want to be a felon.
I want to be abused.
I want to be addicted.
I want to be mentally ill.
I want to be in abject poverty.
I want to be emotionally bankrupt.
Why do some individuals look at homeless people as if they chose to be homeless? Is it our sense of moral superiority or our attempt to absolve our own responsibility of our fellow man?
The truth is, no one wants to be homeless. Camping might be fun for a few days, but even “survivor man” needs a break between episodes.
Poverty is not a choice. Unlike the silver spoon, this sewage spork brings challenges that some can’t imagine. Poverty limits your education, neighborhood, healthcare, employment and friends. It cripples your dreams and strangles your potential. We would like to think that anyone could rise above, but the cinderella story is a fairytale or fluke of nature. The reality is that socio-economic status has a gravity that pulls down.
There are choices that lead to the disparity of the streets. Some of those choices were criminal and can’t be undone. It’s the Pandora’s box with your criminal background to haunt you like a nightmare. You may have chosen to make what appeared at the time like a harmless mistake, only to discover that what was done can never be undone. The consequences of each of our choices can affect our entire lifetime and generations to come.
There is no system or pathway to success with guaranteed results. Shelter isn’t for everyone and even those who gain subsidized income and housing are very likely to lose it.
Dysfunction is a disease. It is contagious and it can be terminal. Untreated, it gets worse and compounds itself like bad debt. Like every ailment, there exists an intertwined combination of physical, emotional and spiritual components. Those different areas of concern matasticize like a cancer spreading throughout a body. If we attempt to treat one area and ignore the others, we may cause more damage.
If we provide all of the physical needs for the individual and ignore the emotional and spiritual areas, we may have a much more complicated problem. I can’t tell you how many countless stories I have personally been involved with in which the new apartment or government check has caused the individual to become more dysfunctional. For many it’s a pattern of pride, isolation, old habits (destructive relationships, drugs, etc…), leading to total meltdown.
Assistance without accountability is an avalanche.
Last week, while trekking through the woods behind a convenience store I found a man passed out on a small brick wall. He was a friend who received a subsidized apartment. He isolated in his new house which led to returning to old habits. He didn’t choose to be homeless again, but he did choose a lifestyle that determined this result. The physical “cure” of his apartment led to his abandoning the mental/emotional and spiritual help he so needed and had been receiving.
We must wholistically address the issues involved in dysfunction. I have asked the city for years, which engages in mental and physical help for the homeless, to acknowledge a chaplaincy program. They haul homeless men and women to a phsyc hospital or a shelter and yet will not acknowledge the needed spiritual components. You can’t complain about falling when you build a two legged stool.
This is why OurCalling exists. We don’t want to replace the physical services that are provided throughout the city. We aren’t qualified to approach many of those areas including mental health. However we want to supplement those areas by addressing the daily spiritual needs of the homeless community. Sleep in the shelter, take your medications and get job training elsewhere. Maybe you attend a church service or one of the churches specifically focused the homeless, yet you want to continue to grow in your faith throughout the week? Come to OurCalling for our daily Bible studies and mentoring.
Grab a cup of coffee in our café, eat a hot lunch or let us provide you a fresh change of clothes. But make no mistake, these are tools used to address the spiritual issues in your life. We will teach you how to keep a job, maintain an apartment, why you should care about your hygiene, conflict resolution and how to be a productive member of society. Join our volunteer program and gain on-the-job training to learn how to hold a valued position on a team. We use Biblically based life skills, Bible studies, 12 Step meetings and one-on-one mentoring in order to address the spiritual components of life.
No one wants to be homeless. If they don’t address the big issues they always will be.