For people who read these blogs and don’t know me in my day to day life, it’s not apparent that I’ve never had children of my own. Well, I haven’t… For whatever reason, that blessing has never fallen to me and never will in the natural sense of the privilege.
Having never been a parent, I’ve never had some questions and sentences pointed at me until I became involved in ministering to and befriending homeless and addicted men and women. Take for example the question and sentence, “Did you bring fresh underwear I could have? I messed mine a little bit.” This is a reasonable sentence to hear coming from a young child to his or her Mom or Dad. Such was not the case when the question was asked of me Tuesday night by a man somewhat older than myself.
Homeless and addicted, this man sheepishly walked up to me and quietly asked: “Did you bring fresh underwear I could have? I messed mine a little bit.” Sadly, I had to tell him that I didn’t have any and even the wash water that I kept in reserve had been used up by a red hair dye incident a few hours before.
I had seen this man only a couple of times prior to his question. He was grateful for the opportunity to ask and not be condemned or judged for his situation. As if wanting to explain his situation, he told me that he has been battling cancer for some time now and that it is starting to affect his bowel habits. Imagine being addicted and then homeless because of your addiction and now battling cancer with little or no insurance to open medical intervention to you…
I don’t normally ask people anything about their story of how they got to this point in their lives but I did this time. The words just flowed out of my mouth as if God knew I needed to know his answer. God pulled them out without me knowing they were coming.
“When did this journey start for you?” I wasn’t expecting such a quick and painful answer…
“I started down this road the night a stray bullet killed my three-year-old son.”
“Oh my… I’m so sorry… When did that happen?”
Stop reading this blog and let that sink into your heart for a bit…
In 1985, a stray bullet found his son and killed his son instantly. This man’s life has spiraled out of control ever since and brought him thirty-two years later to the underside of a bridge with forty to fifty other people on that night – this past Tuesday night.
As I have reflected on that conversation, I slipped into compare and contrast mode with similar stories of tragedy from years ago that I’ve heard at “Road to Recovery,” a Christian recovery group at Urban Hope. I’ve heard testimonies of how this man or that woman started drinking as a child when this truly horrific incident happened. Some of these men and women in this recovery group have had equally horrible things happen as did the man standing in front of me last night and yet they are healed.
What’s the difference between the men and women in that recovery group and this man under the bridge? Well, that’s an answer too big for this short blog but that big answer can be summed up in five letters...
To be continued…
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