Are You Really Okay?

As I am sitting in my bed reading various stories in the news, there is a picture and story that stands out to me.  It is a story that talks about a homeless mother and her children living between the shelter and the streets.  I don't stop there, I begin to read and find more facts about single parents, families, mothers with children, fathers with children, and single people who literally have no where to go!  The common thread among those who have dared to share his or her story is "the truth is most of us are living one paycheck away from losing everything."  They all talk about how they never sought to be homeless and be unable to provide for themselves and their children, they talk about how they are trying to keep their children's childhood as joyful as possible even in dire situations.  But there was one other thing that stuck out to me THE most...... Almost all of the families stated that they had been from friend to friend and now the car had been located and repossessed so the shelters and streets were their only option.  That beginning part lost me, FROM FRIEND TO FRIEND.  I know that we cannot rescue every person from every thing.  I know that we as a community and as Americans love our space and comfort.  But what I don't fully understand is how our friend and their family is homeless when I (not literally YET) have a 4 bedroom home and one of the rooms is an office and a so called guest bedroom that I will not make the accommodation for my homeless friend and his or her family.  Again, if you are a friend who lies, steals and manipulates every thing, you may need to find a shelter that helps with counseling so you can truly receive help.  But for my friend who is having a bad year.....I have the space, even if the 4 member family has to all sleep in one room.  If I had to put my children in the same room so the adults can have some type of privacy you aren't homeless because we have a home. We have a good knack for judging someone else's situation until we are found in the same situation or we just flat out believe some things can never happen to us.  Life is happening to us all and how can I call myself your friend and have no concern about your well-being.  If you are homeless let's both work on finding a solution to help the family.  Do we dare believe that God has allowed us to live in these houses that are massive in size and not even care enough about our friends to even know when they are truly down and out?  I find that absurd!  At a certain age friends move beyond being a person we simply hang out with to someone we truly care about and have concern for. One of the people who allowed themselves to be interviewed said that her friends never knew when she and her son went through a harsh winter season with no heat because her paycheck only allowed her to pay the rent and nothing else. Not because she was being prideful, but because no one was really listening when she talked. I am not implying that if my friend is homeless/in a crisis that it becomes my responsibility to parent them nor be his or her welfare system nor the other way around either.  What I am saying is when, at what point do we reach beyond our luxury walls and truly talk to our friends to see if they are okay?  When do we ask how work is going? When do we see if the kids are driving you insane?  When do we see I you are having health or mental health problems? And also on the other side of the coin is the pride of the friend who is newly homeless, jobless, having a nervous breakdown and doesn't want to share for fear of being rejected or cast aside.  If I am asking you as a friend, be honest.  At some point, a friendship has to have a deeper level conversation other than the superficial things that we are deceived in thinking gives us status. The economy of the United States is no longer about the position of your dreams, it is about what job can I take and know that my children are safe and are not being molested or raped while I am at work.  It is about the village we claim to be a part of really being that village and help one another out even if you only find that you are only able to contribute the bare minimal.  There is a difference in the homeless friend who is really trying and life keeps happening and the homeless friend that thinks they are royalty and feel like if you supply the support they can stop trying. Homeless rates all across America are rising.  Most other cultures that reside here in the US are often the joke when we make comments like "it's probably about 10 people living in that 3 bedroom house or apartment" but they are on to something that a lot of us have truly missed.   If your friend needs to live with you and your family for 6 months to a year, just so they can find at least a one bedroom apartment, could we not take the responsibility of learning something from them and also teaching as we go?  As a child, my family always worked in nursing or long-term care facilities.  I was always there volunteering rather I wanted to or not.  I was pushing wheelchairs to windows so they could look outside, I was tying shoes for hands that were drawn up from strokes, I was a listening ear for those who had been placed and either had no family or the family just didn't come to visit or call. Even though I often wanted to do whatever it was my friends may have been out doing, I am grateful for my mom making me spend time at her job.  It taught me how to care for others who were older and those who could not manage care any longer on their own.  It taught me not to go into a hospital or assisted care facility and become ignorant when a stroke patient has a little drool that he or she cannot control.  It showed me how to care for someone other than myself.  And no, I am not the only person who has had these experiences nor am I the last but the experiences taught me a lot. As long as we keep living life will keep happening.  Do we live expecting the worse? No! We believe and pray that everything will always be okay as we continue to do our part in life.  But things happen that we cannot control. Please hear my heart on this. If you think that your friend is having a "secret" struggle or seems to be having drastic changes overnight talk to them at least.  We cannot take care of every person in the world, but we can at least show up and be active in the lives of those we call "friend."  We can teach our children how to lay condescending thoughts and critical judgments down and really be a help to those we have brought close in our lives.  Just because we help others doesn't mean they will need help always, sometimes we need help.  If every person helps his or her friend, then every friend has help!

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