Take a long, good look at this picture.
I applied filters in hopes that my some time friend could remain anonymous. I tried blocking his face, but then lost the context of what I was trying to share. If you’re familiar with downtown, no doubt you are familiar with him.
Some people quietly stop and give him food, expecting nothing in return. Others loudly stop and give him food. And take a selfie with an imaginary pat on the back in return. 😡.
Somedays, Mr. X is as pleasant as can be. He’ll talk to you about his past and be as gracious as a refined southern gentleman. Other days, his demons can be raging, and he’s literally in caught in a imaginary war zone, lashing out at people/demons that we can’t see. On those days, he wants and needs to be left alone. He’s a vile man to those who approach him. I know alcohol has been involved. But what I don’t know is if the alcohol is to medicate the demons. Or the demons drive him to the alcohol. It doesn’t matter.
Mr. X’s transgressions are exposed for most of downtown to see. Most see a crazy, dirty man pushing a cart full of junk around a two block radius. He doesn’t have a nice bed to sleep in(his choice) so you can sometimes find him spread out on a sidewalk or under a bench. Just a few days ago, I saw him in his pajama bottoms and wife beater shirt, toting his daily supply of water from our spigot.
Across town, passed out behind the walls of a beautiful 3000 square foot home, lies another soul that I know. This person also fights demons. And addiction. And mental illness. And depression. And probably much more.
Further on out, there’s a modest home where a mother, in private, cries for her child who just died from an overdose. Most will never know about the heroin. It will remain the family secret.
Further on towards the east, sits another broken family home . The mother thinks her grown son is not an addict because his pills come from a doctor’s prescription pad. She’s enabled for so long that the rest of the family is probably permanently fractured.
In every single one of these stories, someone was/is hurting. The only difference between Mr. X’s story and the rest, is that many of us see his played out daily. His sins are exposed for the world to see. And judge.
And judge we do.
I’m guilty as charged. This morning, this picture took my breathe away because of what was on Mr. X’s lap, being studied intently. A Bible.
The same God that loves me, loves each of his sons in the above situations across town. I’m no better than the addict with a needle in his arm. Or the town drunk. Or the enabled son. Or the dead son.
In fact, the only difference between me and Mr. X is that I take a shower, put on clean clothes, spray some perfume on, and out that mask on every single day. Mr. X isn’t fake like me. My sins are there, just not exposed for you and everyone else to see. And condemn me.
No one, in their right mind(in my humble opinion), would choose homelessness. But when you add mental illness, depression, and “street” medicine, we can’t be so quick to judge.
I can only sit back and smile, and wonder what scripture that Mr. X was all into this morning. I pray that someone rode by and saw God’s love being played out.
Just maybe it tempted them to pull their own mask down, and get real with where they are in their own walk with God. So many people are hurting, Help me pray that this will be the only hell many homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, PTSD sufferers, and mentally ill people will ever know.
Thanks for listening to me rantings of me, once again.
God bless you!