Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Does Love Look Like?

I lived in a larger city when I lived in Florida, a city  which was a suburb of a much larger city and now I live in a small town. All cities have homeless. My husband and I have always felt a calling and love towards the homeless population and we have served this population in both communities. My heart is filled with love and compassion when I am in their midst and I can say without judgement in my heart that when I see a homeless person I am seeing a life that is broken and hurting. I believe God made us for community and while we are not always loving and caring towards each other...deep in our core that is our purpose... to love one another.
But, we do not always love one another. We aren't always loving. It is the same in the homeless community. Some are loners, some couple up and others band together to become make-shift families. Some of them take advantage of each other, some are bullies and some become victims. Most of them are just trying to get-by...not much of a goal but they have forgotten how to make goals or have failed so many times they have stopped believing themselves capable of achieving that kind of milestone. It is not a pretty community. Yet, I have a story I carry with me in my heart from last cold, so cold winter that is beautiful. A story from two homeless men that lets me know of God's love.
I was standing greeting the guests as they signed in, near the opened door way. It was cold and I remember feeling a little ashamed that I was wearing such a nice coat while many were not. One man came in and I recognized him, I smiled and he came over and shook my hand. Immediately I knew he was intoxicated. He smelled, he swayed and he slurred through our short conversation. I directed him to the coffee. I poured him coffee and asked him how he took it and after it was made, we walked together to the table and sat down. I mentioned how cold it was. He seemed surprised which is something I am use to...I seem to always feel colder that others do. But, I had misunderstood his surprise...this was different. He at first seemed perplexed. Then he said out loud "It is cold, isn't it?" and I nodded. As he turned his head from side to side looking around the room he  commented "It will be below freezing tonight!" I agreed it would. He finished the coffee quickly, then standing to his feet,  he said someone's name out loud and another person commented that he wasn't there. Both homeless men began looking serious, concerned and sober. Then the man announced he was going outside to get this man.The woman at the desk cautioned him that if he didn't come back in 10 minutes he would be locked out for good. The man said simply "He can't be alone outside tonight in the cold!" I tried to talk to him, to no avail. He left. In what seemed like an eternity but was less than 10 minutes he walked in doing an awkward two-step... staggering  and dragging a nearly unconscious man. I ran over and put the very cold, very drunk man's arm over my shoulder and helped this man get his friend to a warm bed. I listened to him cajole and encourage his friend to bed. Telling him..."You will be fine! Sleep well." 

I listen to some people make disparaging comments about the homeless when they know that I volunteer. Some of the comments while mean, are even true but I have learned more about God's love from the homeless population that those people making those comments could ever teach me. We are made for community and we are to love one another.

Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

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