We see them sitting on the corners with a blanket around them as they shiver in the cold and we just pass them by.
They are not usually appealing to look at. Sometimes they even stink. And unless we have a few coins to offer them we tend to avoid them at any cost.
But what if we took the time to stop and listen to their stories?
What if we took the time to stop and care?
What if instead of passing them by we chose to stop by and show them some love in the same way that Jesus would?
What stories would they tell us?
What memories would they share?
What lessons could we learn… if we only took the time to stop and care?
This weekend me and two of my friends decided to go to the streets of Seattle to pass out some food to the homeless people we saw there and to talk to them and pray for them.
Every one of them had a story to share.
And with each story my heart broke a little more.
With each story I realized how selfish I was for not taking the time to stop and care more often.
For just passing them by.
For not giving them a second glance.
They are all precious children of God.
Children who don’t deserve the cards that life dealt them. Who don’t deserve to call the streets their home. Who don’t deserve to be cast off by society.
Unwanted, uncared for, and often time left alone.
Here are some of their stories.
She was raped at the young of age 8 by her mother’s boyfriend. Abused, rejected, unprotected, alone. So she did what she knew would be best for her. She ran away from home. From the place that she should have found shelter. The place she should have felt safe. The place that instead became her prison. By 10 she was living on her own. Not in a nice family surrounded by loved ones. Not being taken care of by people who valued her. But on the cold, dark streets. That was what she learned to call “home”. 35 years now and those streets are what she still calls home.
His parents died when he was only 4-years old. He was handed off to a foster family that didn’t really care for him. They beat him for no reason, abused him every chance they got, and sent him off to the next “home” when they couldn’t handle him anymore. He was never loved, never accepted, never held in caring arms. Just handed off from one household to another who took him in not because they cared about him, but because they would earn a few extra bucks for keeping him under their roof and their rules. So he acted out. He rebelled. He ran away. 100 foster homes later he brought himself to the place where no one could harm him. No one would look for him. No one would pretend to care. He is only 26, but the streets are his home.
He was a brave marine fighting in the war for five years. Seeing cruel things that no one should see. Witnessing gruesome sights that no one should have to live with. Yet he was there. Watching innocent families, mother, children murdered in front of his eyes. Fighting for the freedom of his country. And when he came home to America those things he saw continued to haunt him every day. They turned into nightmares that would keep him up all night. Visions that would never leave him. Suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and so much more he couldn’t keep a stable job and he had no family to care for him. And one day found him where he never expected to be. Instead of an honored veteran he ended up just another homeless man on the street.
As we were ready to head home because it was night, the temperature was dropping, and we were getting cold I felt so sad.
It is unfair that I have a warm house to come home to when all they have is the streets.
It is unfair that I have a warm bed to sleep in when all they have is their sleeping bag, if they’re lucky.
It is unfair that I have a family who loves me to share my life with when all they have is themselves and sometimes one another.
It’s just not fair.
We did what we could that day. We gave them food. A word of encouragement. A prayer. And as I was leaving I couldn’t help but think to myself if Jesus was here on earth right now this is exactly what he would have been doing: hanging out with homeless people, and it made me feel good to know we took the time to do what Jesus would have done.
Today… I challenge you to really start seeing the people that you pass by every day. Do any of them need a word of encouragement? A hug? A smile?
Sometimes the biggest thing you can do for someone is stop and take the time to care.
Take the time to encourage.
To pray for them.
To love them.
It doesn’t have to be the homeless man on the street (although that would be nice too).
Maybe it’s just the guy in the cubicle next to you.
The lady down the street.
The young girl at the grocery store.
Everyone is struggling in one way or another.
Everyone has a story to share.
Today…. Can you and I take the time to stop and care? My prayer is that it becomes part of my every day. That no one is unnoticed. That not one is ignored. That no one is just passed by without a second glance.
We are Jesus’ hands and feet to this world. Called to care for those who can’t care for themselves. Called to give what we can. Called to love. And called to see others the way that God sees them: as His beloved children.
Never forget to stop and care. You may not be able to do much. But you can at least do the little that you can. And by doing so you will spread the love of Christ to everyone around you.
Be blessed! –Anna… ♥