Tonight is my last night of work at the homeless shelter for the season. It’s a temporary, weather-related shelter, so it only operates from November – March. I am going to miss the people and experiences that I had this year. When you have the love of Christ in your heart, it is difficult to look at people as “clients” or “guests”. Those clients are God’s children, just like you and me, so when I talk to them about their circumstances and challenges, they dig little places into my heart. It has been a privilege to give them any resources and recommendations that I can in order for them to get to the next place in their lives. It’s easy, because I honestly care about them.
The shelter has also taught me to be very grateful for what I have. When I am putting my 2 and 4 year olds in bed at night, I don’t mind the difficulty of that near as much as I used to. They get in and out of bed, they don’t want to brush their teeth, they stay up singing in bed when they are supposed to be sleeping…but they aren’t doing all of that in a community gym with 40 other people. The challenges that the shelter moms face is a difficult one and I respect them for being fierce protectors of their families. They are persevering in some pretty daunting circumstances and that is remarkable for me.
I’ve also learned how important it is to make great decisions…all of the time. Many of the people that I work with made bad choices as teenagers or they married someone that was abusive or they committed a crime that ruined their reputations. Drinking, drugs, who you marry, and what you do makes all the difference in where you end up. Nobody in that shelter planned to be homeless. They simply followed their choices right through the doors and are now working diligently to “re-do” their lives. I wish every 13 year old could learn that lesson now.
So, tonight I will say goodbye to some pretty important people. I wish them the best and I still believe that we serve a God of second chances. Although I cannot directly tell them about my belief in Christ in our work environment, I hope that the love He has put in my heart made each of their difficult days a bit brighter.