This morning as I was walking from where I park my car to my workplace, I passed by a homeless woman sitting at the transfer station for the City buses. She was wrapped in a blanket, she looked warily at me but her glance told me a few possible things about her. I wondered if she was “judging” me as a white, overweight woman walking to her job with her designer dog in tow. All of those assumptions are correct. Perhaps she was a bit angry that I had some obvious advantages that she didn’t have such as the hot shower I had this morning, hot coffee, a good breakfast, and that I had a car to drive to work in. She is likely confronted with her life choices that she regrets every single day. But I suddenly wanted her to know that I am too. I have made some foolish mistakes and foolish choices that I regret every single day as well. I do not know her story but she doesn’t know mine either. Her choices lead her to a more desperate place perhaps but I am only a couple missed mortgage payments away from being homeless myself. Some of my choices have left me alone, in debt, stuck somewhere I’d rather not be. But, as we all know, it’s what we do with our regrets that determines so much. Being overweight got me out of bed at 5:20 this morning because my legs hurt BUT I had the most amazing quiet time I have had in weeks. AND I had time to have a few minutes phone visit with my truck driving friend Sherlene at 6:00 cause I knew she was up too.
I have been reading lately about the ragamuffin group Jesus called when he was here and the group that chose to follow him. Saints and sinners. In fact, the group was so “distasteful” to the religious people of his day that they killed him for who he was hanging out with.
I just don’t ever want to forget that I am a sinner (big time) myself. I am proud, arrogant, selfish, critical, cynical, mean at times, rude at times, impatient, a glutton most every day. But I know Jesus and that gives me some tremendous advantages that I wish everyone had. By the totally amazing, undeserved Grace of God, I am forgiven, redeemed, clean, hopeful, and have every reason to be merciful, patient, forgiving and loving towards others. Am I always? No, but I know He is working a little every day at my heart and it’s ungodly characteristics and refining the dross away. He is helping me see others with compassion rather than disdain or worse yet, superiority. I have a long ways to go with my reactions to the homeless, the beggars, the drug addicts that I see every single day. We have violence in my city as a result of some of those issues people have. I see drug deals most days in the park where I walk my dog. I live only 150 miles away from Roseburg, Oregon where the most recent school shooting happened just last week. I pray for the peace of my city every day.
Maybe all I can do is smile at the homeless woman; let her know she is seen. I know that longing well. Buy her a cup of coffee. The Golden Rule is always a safe bet.
I guess the point of this post for me is that I need to remember that we really are a lot more alike that we care to admit. The Pharisee who prayed, “I thank God I’m not like other men” missed the point. Samson was terrified of becoming weak and “being like other men” and yet when he was, he became great. Man do I have a long ways to go.