Written: March 23, 2013
Edit: I am no longer homeless but I will always be an advocate for homeless individuals.
It’s taken me a while to write this post. I’ve wanted to sugarcoat my words but as the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.” I was also inspired to write this post because I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am not a person who wallows in self-pity. I am a SURVIVOR! Sometimes I am frustrated when it looks like God is not moving in my life but then I relax, take a step back, and fall on my knees to give Him praise because it could be so much worse for me, as it is for others.
On August 30th I became homeless. I walked into the Salvation Army with a suitcase, laundry tote, and personal items to stay at their 30-day, co-ed shelter program. My eyes were red, my heart is broken from having no one, but my spirit felt free and peace seemed to encompass me. Standing in line waiting to complete the familiar paperwork that I have processed for thousands of clients – it was now my turn to go through the process. As I sat, God whispered, “It is not about you.” I knew then that my presence there would not be the same as it had been for others. I’ve always known that my destiny was always bigger than what others had seen. I’ve never fit inside a box. My thoughts, ideas, and goals are too big to fit. Being homeless meant that God has some additional pruning to do with me.
After getting settled in and briefly chatting with my three roommates, I thanked God for providing a place for me. In the final hour, He opened a door for me because I could have been living under a bridge as so many homeless men, women, and children do in Michigan. I wanted to document my journey so I whipped out a fresh journal and wrote from my heart. Sitting on a twin bed, I began to write all of what God was speaking in my soul. I felt closer to Him at that moment than I have in months.
I do not fit the stereotype of what a homeless person is supposed to look like. Not only that but I am the founder/executive director of a nonprofit that helps (and always will help) homeless women and children escaping domestic abuse. There are times when I wish I was in dreamland rather than actually living this reality. But, it’s the truth. Here I am: 30 years old and for the first time in my life, I find myself without my own home.
For 10 days, I drank nothing but water. The food was horrible and I am a picky eating-Pescetarian. I did not have a dime to my name nor a penny to make a wish but I knew my ‘fast’ was for a reason unbeknownst to myself. After applying for food stamps via the Internet, I was granted $200. My mother has never received welfare benefits so there was a sense of shame I felt because I am receiving food stamp benefits. But, a girl has to eat…right?
While in the shelter, I noticed that the staff was rude, the residents were unhappy, they lacked faith and were worried to death. Unlike them, I wore a smile and had faith; I was motivated to continue my ministry work and stay encouraged. After a week, I began to really speak with the other residents. At that moment, I knew why I had to be homeless. The women and men had no idea how to overcome their situations. I was no miracle worker, but I knew the majority of every county official, resources, and how to work a computer since I am a total tech geek. Best of all, I knew a Man who could do ALL things. He would deliver me from my circumstances as He would do the same for them also. The shelter only provides a bed and three horrible meals per day. Sunshine, rain, sleet, or snow residents with and without a car MUST leave the shelter from 9 am – 4 pm. There were days when the rain was beating down so hard that I hoped a staff member would have a little compassion, better yet a heart, but no such thing occurred. It became a joke because every time I would leave in the rain it would stop instantly. When I arrived at my destination, the rain would resume. I told them that God promised to shelter me in the times of my storms and He would do the same for them.
They were beyond broken and my bubbly personality is just what they needed. I began to encourage and motivate them. In the evening, I would review their paperwork for various housing and outreach programs since the staff would rather vent about the clients returning to the shelter precisely at 4 pm. Even in my time of need, I knew God placed me in a situation to be who He has called me to be. I am a giver, helper, overcomer; my tests are my stepping stones. Being homeless gave me a better understanding of what my clients face on a daily basis. I had no life experience in these situations. All I knew was that I wanted to help women and children restore, rebuild, and renew their lives. I wanted women to value their true worth and help their children avoid becoming a product of their environment. For 30 years, I’ve been a ‘pampered princess’. Now, I have more compassion and patience for my clients with whom I will be able to share my story of homelessness and overcoming some of the same issues.
I’ve had to sleep outside in the pouring rain. I’ve gone weeks without eating due to not having any money. I’ve had to cry myself to sleep at night with a broken heart because of the hurt and the pain my family has caused me with no remorse. All that I have given to them and not one of them had offered me a safe place to lay my head. I have no hate or resentment towards them. I cannot allow my heart to be filled with hatefulness because of wrongdoing. God has always sent people who have encouraged me through this journey. I can say I’ve never given up. I’ve cried. I’ve bled, but I am surviving.
Why now? Why did I decide to remove my mask and tell that I am homeless?
One powerful word: Freedom. Most people see me but they feel as if I do not go through any trials or tribulations. My blog has never really been about my struggles or day-to-day fumbles. I’ve kept a mask on trying to hide what God wants others to see. Not to be ashamed of what I have faced but so that He could get the glory out of it.
My journey isn’t over
I am still searching for housing. I am currently enrolled in school while working to help women and children escape domestic violence and homeless individuals find permanent housing and jobs. To some people, I may seem happy about being homeless. I am not. I am happy that I am passing my life’s tests and coming close to ending this chapter in my Life Book. I am happy that I can remove my mask and show others what God can do in the midst of their storms. How God will deliver you and bless you in front of your ‘enemies.’ I am happy that I am healthy and living a life of purpose. I am no longer in bondage by hiding behind my trials and tribulations. God deserves to get the glory out of my struggles.
Continue to follow me on this road called Life. My blog will be my home where I will open my heart and share my stumbles and fumbles.
Remember, just because you are homeless or in a situation where life throws you a curveball doesn’t mean you are out of the game.