Society labels these individuals “homeless” … I get the chance to call them friends.
For about four and a half months, once a week, we sit around table at Springs Rescue Mission sharing paints, brushes and other art supplies.
Community is forming as we watch each other’s creativity land on canvases and papers.
They share portions of their lives and photos of their families when enough trust has been built. When they know I don’t want anything from them.
The people I’ve seen lying on sidewalks, living in cardboard boxes, who ask for change, need showers and carry everything they own in plastic bags … I now understand that each one has a story. Some have escaped out of domestic violence, others are suffering with mental health issues, others have bills that their income could not cover and they have lost everything and they are working to get back on their feet.
There is always more to their story than what we physically see.
Just this week we celebrated our friend who has 68 days of sobriety. We ate homemade banana bread with paint on our fingers and dreamed about what we’d do if we won a million dollars. Much to my surprise…each one talked about how they would use it to help others…no one talked about getting anything for themselves…and of course they offered to build the best art studio with a coffee shop…just for me. (Cue the tears.)
Don’t get me wrong…this is not always easy for me. There are days where I quietly say to God “please don’t ask me to do this… and can’t you send something one else…” He says “nope” and so I go.
I’m learning that sitting with these neighbors is not about having all the answers or fixing them.
It’s about being with people whose circumstances might look different from mine and knowing deep down we are all messy people with stories. And more importantly, we all have something to learn from each other. The truth — the reality — I walk in is that Jesus loves all of us the same.
I wouldn’t be the person I’m becoming without these people I’m met along the way.
In midst of all this, I am finding I am the one who is changed.
Written by Cindy Limbrick
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