To Love The Unlovable

I volunteered to serve dinner to the homeless men at the Union Gospel Mission last night. This is something I have wanted to do since I read the book Same Kind Of Different As Me.  As I filled the space in each divided plate with salad, I tried to make a connection with each man. Most did not make eye contact; some did, and others expressed thanks and appreciation. A few even quipped about not wanting salad or responded to my teasing that they need more greens. Equal numbers of white, black, and brown, they were all there to receive a free meal and a bed in exchange for listening to a sermon. I was told that many were probably drunk and/or high and had spent their day under the bridge, but that some had spent the day in therapy, rehab, training, and job searches. As I looked into their eyes, I wondered about each man’s story. What had brought them there? What had happened to bring them to the point of homelessness? What about their family? What did they think of those of us who were serving them? I wondered about their future. I wanted to talk to each and every one and hear their story. Do they feel unlovable? Do they feel unloved?

It would be easy to assume that they will be helped and tended to and taken care of. They will be taught and trained and counseled. They will learn that they are loved. Yet I cannot ignore this feeling that I should be a part of that. Is it guilt? Sympathy? Or a calling? I have not been able to stop thinking about those men; their eyes seemed to say so much. I don’t know what is in store for me, or how I am to be used, but I think I need to return. Whether it is my life that is to be changed or one of theirs, I am not certain, but I resolve to take this step. I will not let fear or laziness or indifference prevent me from exploring this opportunity and from beginning this journey.

8 thoughts on “To Love The Unlovable

  1. I am glad you are finding meaning in working with the homeless. My wife and I did that in other parts of the world. There are several observations that could be made, but I will stick to this one. Many people make the mistake of thinking that homeless people are either somehow stupid or lazy. My experience is that by and large they are neither. They are just people that life has been very unkind to for one reason or another and they took few wrong turns along the way. It could happen to anybody.

    • True. Though research shows that a vast majority of the homeless have mental illness and/or substance abusers. The ACLU changed the laws in the 80s that allowed the their families and the authorities to medicate or institutionalize these people “against their will”. Right or wrong, the new legislation literally dumped hundreds of thousands of otherwise hospitalized souls onto the streets. This doesn’t change their need for help and for organizations and ministries to administer that help; but too often, it is used as a political or economic issue, rather than a legal issue. As a Christian, my job is not to determine the cause, but to serve others. And you are right about another thing: it could happen to anybody. But by the grace of God….

  2. I totally understand your reaction to your volunteer experience. I had a similar experience and it was very eye-opening. It often helps to see the world from a different perspective.

  3. It sounds like a calling. BTW, one of the books that is on the top of my list to read soon is “Callings – Finding and Following an Authentic Life” by Gregg Levoy. I have heard great things about it and look forward to reading it. Follow your heart…it knows best.

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