I was talking with a casual friend today and we started to talk about ways that we'd like to get involved in our community. She mentioned wanting to help in Sunday school and I said that I'd like to ask if the church had any outreach programs for the homeless and poor. She responded with "Oh, that's your thing?" I laughed and said yeah, I guess it is. She went on to explain her feelings on the subject of helping the homeless and the poor. She said that she'd rather give money to someone selling fruit on the side of the road because she can tell they are trying. But when she gives money to the man on the corner with a cardboard sign, she believes she is only fueling his laziness and his drug problem. Then she said "But I usually still give him money, because, not to be mean, but maybe I'll help them overdose and they'll finally be off my tax money." I was dumbfounded. And speechless. I just kinda shook my head and she said "I know it's probably not the best attitude," and I said "Probably not." I said that even though there are and always will be people who take advantage of programs designed for those who need it, it's really difficult and not even appropriate for us to distinguish between those who truly need it and those who are just taking advantage. And no matter how someone got to the low point in their lives, we should still be helping whenever we can and feel led to.
I understand that everyone has different passions and callings. I know that what speaks to one person's heart doesn't always speak to another person's heart. And that's okay. But in reality, as Christians, what speaks to our hearts should be the same things that speak to God's heart. Across the board. Of course you may have different interests, gifts and skills than I have. You may be skilled in areas that I have never touched, therefor better suiting you for a different area of ministry. Some people come alive when surrounded by many faces and some people thrive more with one on one interaction. These differences in one another are beautiful and amazing and it is so exciting to see what God has gifted in each member of His family and how He wants to perfectly orchestrate and match us with an area to serve Him. Together we are complete. But our hearts should be on the same page.
I have prayed for years that God would break my heart for what breaks His, although I think I've only meant it recently. And once I genuinely begged Him to stir my heart, He complied. Boy oh boy...did He comply. I laid in bed last night, just aching. My heart has been aching for a while but last night it all came to a head. Her words pierced through my heart...and not because I was so shocked because of their atrociousness...no...her sentiments are shared by many. The fear, the hate and the cold hearts towards the poor and the homeless...it finally broke me. I laid in bed and I just couldn't stop the hot burning in my eyes until my face was wet with tears. And I actually prayed that I didn't know it would actually really hurt this bad. I thought of Leah, the woman we shared coffee and soap with in the park, and I thought of the man with the dog, the veteran, the African American who assured my kids he wouldn't hurt them, Sky the man who hugged us, David, the guy who was clearly a little off, but flabbergasted that we were even talking to him, Lydia and her friend who asked why we weren't afraid of them, Steven, Daniel and Maria, and Brant, who we met by the grocery store a couple days ago. He is not homeless, but very poor. He and his wife Brandi can't seem to keep a job and have three kids ages 2, 8 and 10. He was out begging for $73 to keep their utilities on. These faces and names are burned into my mind and heart and knowing that so many of us scurry past them, clutching our purses tighter and holding our kids closer, refusing them money for their "drug habits," this is starting to really break my heart. I didn't anticipate that. It always made me sad and feel kinda bad, but last night it actually hurt.
I highly suggest not really praying that prayer unless you are ready, because apparently God's heart breaks hard. For His children....all of His creation. And to be honest, it is discouraging when you start to realize just how steep this uphill battle it. I am not going to solve this crisis on my own....not even with the other thousands of people who care so deeply. And when you see how many more thousands of people just simply do not care, or worse, are hardened to the lowest of our society, it starts to feel overwhelming. Jesus came and taught us to reach out to others, to help the hurting. Not after a drug test or a mental competency interview, but to love them because God loves them and us oh so much.
So today, I (somewhat reluctantly) am praying for God to continue to give me eyes like His and break my heart for what breaks His. And now, along with praying for the people around the world who are hungry or hot or cold this morning, I am realizing that some of the most very "blessed" people are the ones who really need prayer. Prayer for their eyes to be opened, for the hearts to ache, for their callousness to be worn away. The life that Jesus wants for His children is so full, so abounding. I am not talking about tangible blessings, but rather He imagines a life where our hearts are bursting with love for our neighbors, not just our blood relatives. Where we are ministered to by the widow around the corner, where the single mother desperately trying to make end meet can show us God's love. He wants us to look into the eyes of the desperate, the hurting, those grasping at life and those who are giving up on it and He wants them to see His face in ours and even more, He desires that we see Him in their faces. Jesus spent His time with the marginalized, the sick, the most wretched of humanity. He wandered with no home, constantly going against the grain of society in order to reach those in the shadows. And I believe He has called us to do the same.