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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor

April

The Architect

Clay

Homelessness

Remember when I wrote about The Family Promise Network?

Our church hosted the guests in Family Promise again this week. I went to help serve dinner one evening and brought my two oldest children with me.

I met the guests and their children. Some of them have been in Family promise for many months while others have only been staying there a few weeks.

One mom opened up a little to me and all I can say about her is that she is raw. Like skin stripped away and placed under running water. Like a bruise that people keeping punching. Like a cut on a finger that gets lemon juice poured on it.

It stings.
It burns.

When I went to the training class that is required for all the volunteers at Family Promise I learned the most important thing to do while interacting with the guests is to treat them with dignity and not ask them very many questions, especially questions about their current situation, because they only stay in a church for a week and usually a different group of people help serve dinner every night so, if you had to explain to people why you are homeless while eating your dinner every night, well, I think dinner would start to be pretty unappetizing and a very dreaded time of the day.

I think I may have erred a bit on the side of not talking to the people for fear that I would make them uncomfortable. Even when the woman started telling me how she became homeless I kept quiet and listened to her and maybe that’s all she needed, but I was hoping she didn’t want me to offer advice or feel like she had to explain why she was there, but maybe she did. I’m sure it’s hard to have a stranger look at you and know you’re homeless and feel the need to explain that you’re not a complete loser, but life threw you a few too many punches in a row and you just couldn’t recover from the multiple beatings before the next punch came and landed you square in the pit of homelessness.

I think some of the people at Family Promise had more fight in them than others and view being in that spot as a temporary step and not their housing solution.

I was impressed by the children, they were all well behaved and sweet. They had fun playing with my kids and for the most part seemed happy. Their parents are doing the best they can for them right now.

I fed a toddler a bottle and watched two little boys so their mom could go outside for a break, I talked to a mom about the classes she was taking and her hectic schedule and I laughed with another mom about something silly that one of the children was doing.

When I left that night I felt heavy. I had guarded my heart and held my tongue. I knew my tiny contribution to these people was not going to change their situation, it may have slightly lightened their burden for a moment, but what I realized is it’s up to them. Really. And the question in my head now is do they have the will and desire to fight? Will they be paralyzed by their fears, inabilities and lack of resources?

Some of them are going to have to fight a much bigger battle than others. Mentally, physically and spiritually all their battles are going to have to be fought and conquered if they want to cross the bridge to self reliance.

I know they are getting some help that is very beneficial and I hope they can take the hand that is being extended to them and hold on tightly until they are able to walk freely on their own.

I’ll continue to help serve the guests in the Family Promise Network. Next time I’ll be more comfortable interacting with the women and children, but I hope the next time my church hosts that some of the families that I met will be missing because they have found a home of their own.

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