Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just A Kid

I had an interesting experience a couple days ago and it makes me wonder about this "new normal" in my life where the homeless and downtrodden :-)  are concerned. 

To be as succinct as possible, through my friend M, I met a kid named Spike. (Not his real name! :-))  A mere 18 years old, he showed up in town after being kicked out of the recovery program he was in and he had nowhere to go.  As is his habit, M sent him to me to keep him busy (and off the streets) at the store.  (Honesty:  This sometimes bothers me).

He worked for a while at the store and then got ahold of his dad (in a different state), who was apparently practicing tough love and refused to pay for a hotel- instead telling the kid to go to a local homeless shelter.  I was going out for lunch and offered to drive him and on the way, we chatted and I got him some lunch.... and he had good manners and a likeable disposition.  He could be one of Sarah's friends, I thought.

I had never been to this particular homeless shelter and when we pulled up, there was barbed wire and strange people lurking around and he said, "Oh no.  This doesn't look good".  (No, it didn't).  He then assured me he could defend himself, if necessary, but he looked ready to cry.  My maternal instincts went crazy (even though I had known him for all of two hours at this point) and when he left the car walking toward the building with his nice clothes and suitcase, I couldn't hold back the tears.  It reminded me of the day I dropped Jacob off for his first day of preschool and watched him carry his big backpack and lunch box like a big boy into the church and the tears surprised me. 

I wanted to grab him and put him back in the car. 

So I called M for reassurance.  He told me "paternal" things like, "Spike made his bed and he has to lie in it.  Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom.  He is just facing the consequences of his choices.  He has to put on his big boy pants and suck it up".  Also, I figured if his family was practicing tough love, there was probably a reason.  I did feel somewhat better, but it nagged at me all afternoon.

Three hours later, Spike called the store and told me that his dad had agreed to pay for a hotel for a week and was there any way someone could come get him and take him to the hotel.  I told him I would be right there.  We both laughed when he got back in the car.  I said I was relieved he would be in a hotel instead of the homeless shelter.  He said he was, as well.

And I told him to call M when he got settled and we would pick him up for church Sunday and make sure he has food, which M has done.

He is on the waiting list to get into the program I work for.... I will be glad for the day when they get the new building built and can house more residents.  It is such a pressing need- I have seen that with my own eyes.

As for my own introspection, I am wondering how it is that I came to be someone who offers random homeless people rides to the homeless shelter?  I told M that it hit me that I don't know this kid from Adam and he could have done any number of harmful things to me.  And I'm not stupid- I just didn't feel any real threat.  I didn't give him any cash or my personal phone number.  But, sometimes you just know when God wants you to act, I guess.

If I had picked my own ministry for this season of my life, I would have chosen to help babies or puppies or the elderly.  Homeless and drug-addicted men would not have been my choice.  But I guess sometimes God chooses for you. 

Please pray for Spike.  He is a confused kid who has made some bad choices, but I have a good feeling about him.


MOM said...

I will pray and I thank God for such a wonderful and caring daughter. Keep up the good work