Users Loosers and Winners

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You are the only one who can do something about where you live, said Ben Carson after being appointed to head HUD. Growing up in a poor household, his mother took Ben along with her when she cleaned an expensive home and told him someday he could live in a home like that. She pushed her kids to read and study and instilled in them values of hard work, integrity and determination. It paid off, as Dr. Carson became one of the world’s top neurosurgeons.

Even if you are homeless, there are still opportunities to better your lot.

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”   -One of Ben Carson’s many quotes.

In the homeless community in Bucks County, PA, there are those who look at obstacles as a hurdle and they jump over them and move forward. Others make excuses for staying where they are, aided and abetted by the Bucks County Mental Health Hustlers, who offer a quid pro quo, housing for signing up for mental health services and for giving up and saying you can no longer work because of mental problems. It’s like Aladdin in reverse, where you get old minds for new. One “professional homeless” couple made such as deal where they got on the public dole for the unofficial but de facto reason that they are lazy and irresponsible. The guy had arbitrarily quit two jobs someone had gotten him.

One of the mental health hustlers told me he doesn’t believe in housing first. He said that people have to get straight, through the programs he was hustling, before they get housing. This presupposes everybody needs special programs, such as for substance abuse . I disagree, except that just being homeless is a strain and you need to get your head straight, but that can be done through informal or formal counseling, and people showing you they care and give you a hand up, not a hand out.

One homeless friend  trying to improve his lot didn’t let obstacles fence him in but saw them as something to hurdle. He once told me that he doesn’t want to be made “too comfortable” in his situation so he’d have incentive to move forward. He worked for a temp agency and ended up getting some long term jobs. Still, there were gaps, and he got low on money. One employer wouldn’t hire him until he got his ID up to date. Another friend gave him tips and made a phone call for him. I was very happy for the guy when he told me that two jobs came through, which showed promise.

He had also overcome substance abuse problems. When some other homeless guys were harassing a guy in a home but needy at a homeless bus stop, who had become a scapegoat as a result of the lying tongue of a formerly homeless woman, he just shook his head and had no part of it. This is why he is not a user-looser but a winner!

At the community meal last night, a homeless guy walked over to formerly homeless guy and thanked him for his help in some manner. They guy offered continued help. He and others have been helping homeless people with their physical as well as emotional, spiritual needs, as have the hosts at the churches that provide the meals. Man does not live by bread alone.

It was wonderful to see hosts ministering to the guests and the guest with each other. The regular guests have developed relationship with hosts. At last night’s dinner, a host encouraged a friend who has been battling the bottle to continue to resolve the problem. The Bible says to admonish one another in love.

Churches have increasingly offered Bible based, 12 Step programs to help people with their besetting sins, including substance abuse. Here’s an example:

There was a spirit and sense of belonging at last night’s meal. I come a little distance to go there not just for the excellent food, but for the fellowship.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -Colossians 3: 12-17