A Brave Letter

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Certain topics get me passionate. Like sitting on the edge-of-the-chair passionate. Homelessness is one of those topics. I’m realizing this more in the last year than ever before. It’s all around. In my face at every turn.

As I write, my bum is half-way off the couch and I’m waving my hands. My husband is rolling his eyes and I’m sure thinking, there she goes, getting all passionate again. 

Nose wrinkle smile. It’s true.

My friend Jaime asked me to edit a letter she wrote to her City Council on behalf of the Housing Project for homeless. I couldn’t finish it without crying. Her heart moved me; the way she loves her city, the people, and the potential of what hope can look like if we see homeless people instead of fearing them.

It struck a familiar cord, the adrenaline that pushed me to write the recent post “I’m a $@#%ing Freak!” and I asked her if I could share some of her letter with you.

Here are thought-provoking nuggets to chew on. Please let them sink in. Let the weight of her words open your eyes to the needs of your city. As you read, dig deep and ask what passions it awakens in you.

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Before moving to our new home, we lived on what is referred to the “Westside.” We were neighbors to a lot of homeless. The face of homelessness doesn’t always look like a crazy man waving his arms around, yelling at traffic. However, if you’ve ever been to Harbor and Victoria, you know sometimes it can look like that.

The face of homelessness also looks like that of children, mothers, and fathers, crammed into a 3 bedroom townhouse along with two other families because they can’t afford a place of their own. I know for certain this is happening because my children played with these kids all of the time at Ketchum-Libolt Park.

Homelessness looks like young families of five, hoping to scrape up enough change to stay another night in a motel so their children can have rest before school the next day. I met a family like this at the 99 cent store while they were back-to-school shopping.

I met Nancy, a middle aged woman, who lives behind Subway on Harbor. She has two children, just like me. They don’t live with her, but over multiple breakfasts, she’s shared her story of motherhood with me.

There’s Paul, who sometimes hangs out near Denny’s. He babbles to himself a lot, but is a great conversationalist once someone takes a moment to say hello.

The Vet (whose name I can’t remember), I met at the Chevron station on Harbor. It was Veteran’s day and he was stocking up on snacks. He was so excited that it was “his day.” He told me of his plans to take the bus to Long Beach and visit the Queen Mary. Then, he thought he might visit Knott’s Berry Farm for his complimentary Veterans Day entry. He smelled of the streets and of urine.  I shook his hand anyway and thanked him for his service to our great country. I bought him a small breakfast, not because he was homeless, but because he was a Vet, and, after all, it was “his” day.

I first noticed Dave, who used to hang out at the Target shopping center, wearing a fresh hospital bracelet. He shared his story of his ER visit, and how he was down on his luck. I only had a few moments to chat that first meeting, but since then, have had the blessed opportunity, along with other people, to help Dave try and get back on his feet. Dave has two young boys that he rarely sees. He doesn’t like being homeless. He’s made poor choices that resulted in challenging consequences, and he has severe regrets. After getting a night in a motel, fresh clothes, and healthy food, Dave visited my church. His statement that morning: “I don’t feel homeless today.”

What do all of these people have in common? They never asked me for a handout. Not once. None of them “begged” me for a thing.  You see, if we treat people like people, instead of a problem, we build relationships that solve problems.

The first time I heard about the Housing Project was from a flier that was obviously written out of fear. The voice of fear can be very loud, but can we please allow the voice of love to be heard even louder?

Please, continue your efforts in building this Housing Project for the Homeless. Fight for it, even if the funding deadline ends. I’m well informed I speak not with a voice of fear; I speak with a voice of love for the homeless of ____________.

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Tomorrow night our Life Group will go to a City Council meeting and Jaime will read her letter. I’ll be in the back waving my invisible flag, cheering her on.

You know why? Because she’s passionate about the Housing Project and I want to support her.

Ever noticed how passionate people attract passionate people?

Jaime inspires me to be brave- to take one step at a time with purpose and zest.

What about you? What do you get flag-waving, perched on-the-edge-of-your-chair passionate about?

Social justice?

School bullying?

Marriage?

Home schooling?

What about a skin care line? Or the health benefits of juicing? Or a hobby that makes you feel like you’re on vacation?

Life is short- be passionate.

Be brave.

Take risks and share your zest with others.

Do so in love. One day you’ll look back and see footsteps alongside the millions of miles you walked toward what you believe in.

 

“You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, you’d better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone’s hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people’s eyes like they’re the last you’ll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there’s no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it’s the only one left in the world!” – C. JoyBell C

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