What You Experience Does Not Define You
Photo by Thirdman
Originally Posted On: What You Experience Does Not Define You – Your Humble Walk
In truth, what you experience does not define you.
Yet, in our country we have a way of applying labels to people without even knowing anything about them.
The reasons vary.
Biggest reason is FEAR.
For some, what you do not know tends to frighten you.
- Your boss’s mood that day = fear of job loss
- Airline pilot’s possible inexperience = possible plane crash
- Unknown bug creeps into your house = deadly insect invasion
- Beware of dog sign = he must be a biter
- Doctor’s big needle = bigger is not always better
- Blue haired teen with nose ring at 2 o’clock = walk to the other side of the street
- Outdoor homeless community = avoid eye contact
Moreover, 2020 brought a pandemic into our lives and now some fear even leaving their home.
We are all related.
Created by The One Living God.
Instructed to love one another as we would ourselves.
“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”
In this message we will show you that what you experience does not define who you are.
Experiencing A Good Life
Jeff was living a pretty good life.
He owned a local home goods store.
Moreover, he has a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters.
The town Jeff and his family lived in was hit hard economically due to two major companies leaving the area.
The local economy tanked.
Jeff lost his business.
Shortly thereafter, he became lost.
Unable to find work.
Furthermore, he had no idea how to reinvent himself as the store was all he ever knew, working with his dad from childhood through adulthood.
No money coming in, no hope of employment.
They couldn’t pay their mortgage and lost their house.
Life Changes In The Blink Of An Eye
What happened to Jeff, happens to 17 people out of 10,000 in our country today.
Jeff was now experiencing homelessness.
But wait, you are wondering what about family or friends, couldn’t they help?
Jeff was looking for a hand up, not a hand out.
As a result he allowed his pride to get in the way and in doing so, his wife left him to move back home with her parents.
Jeff’s life changed in the blink of an eye.
Three years before he was voted community business person of the year by the town’s leaders and now he found himself alone.
Moreover, he was left wondering where his next meal was going to come from.
Because of his circumstances, Jeff forgot that what you experience does not define you.
Fear creates labels and division, which leads to abandonment.
One person walks by, sees Jeff sitting there with his coffee cup, head down and mutters to her friend.
“Our mayor really needs to do something about all of these homeless people.”
Another person walks by and whispers to his friend.
“Why doesn’t he just go and get another job?”
As of 2019 we were fast approaching close to 570,000 people in our country who are experiencing homelessness.
Furthermore over the past 18 months, that number is increasing, not decreasing.
The Difference Between A Handout and a Hand Up
As of today the current federal minimum wage is $7.25.
Moreover, it’s been at $7.25 since 2009.
I live in a nice community here in Texas.
Like most other communities we have human beings who stand on street corners or at intersections holding handmade signs.
Here in my community I have witnessed one man stand at a prime location for the better part of a day.
Let’s call him Roy.
Society labels him a panhandler.
Not knowing him, I will move toward factual information.
Did you know that people who do what Roy does; make between $8 and $15 per hour?
Moreover, some make more than $100 each day.
Annualize that and it comes to over $30,000 tax free dollars.
The $7.25 per hour employee makes roughly $18,000 annually and they take home less because they are taxed.
How do you earn a living on $7.25 per hour?
That minimum wage job does not define you.
Leadership and cooperation from our political representatives is needed now more than ever!
I point this out because the people on the street corners and intersections are not the people who are experiencing homelessness today.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, these are several top reasons homelessness occurs:
- The disparity between the rising cost of housing and stagnant incomes- the lack of affordable housing
- Low income, which leads to inability to pay rent or mortgage
- Domestic violence-fleeing violence
- Acute physical or behavioral health crisis (which could be mental health or substance abuse issues)
- Impact of racial disparities- in our country, people of color have a higher risk (relative to their overall percentage of the population) of experiencing extreme poverty, of being incarcerated, and/or not being given opportunities for advancement
Homelessness does not define who you are.
We were all created equal in the eyes of the Creator.
A Story Far From Over
Jeff’s story is far from over.
He is looking for what we all are looking for.
Homelessness is something that nearly 600,000 people in our country are experiencing.
It is what they are experiencing.
Not what defines them.
Because what you experience does not define you.
That is a fact.
The cost of homelessness not only impacts those experiencing it.
Moreover, it creates a cost burden to our communities:
- Unfunded or underfunded visits to hospital emergency rooms or urgent care clinics for health emergencies experienced by those living on the streets
- Time and money of the city’s emergency services (EMS) to address urgent health issues
- Time of law enforcement responding to calls from the community related to concerns about behaviors (or even loitering) of those on the streets
- Cost of detaining individuals experiencing homelessness due to behaviors (including trespassing or loitering) in our jails
- The cost of time and equipment to clean up homeless encampments
There is a fine line between prosperity and poverty.
If you believe that homelessness could never happen to you, think again.
You are a W-2 employee, working for a company, you are one budget cut from having your life turned upside down.
Perhaps you are over the age of 50 like Jeff.
How do you reinvent yourself to earn a living after life throws you a curveball?
Solutions Will Bring Us Together
Three ways you can help.
- Prayer – for all souls who are experiencing homelessness, for the good people who are giving of their time to make a difference in giving good people a hand up so that they can begin to turn their situations around for the better.
- Cash Donations – shelters like the First Footing Shelter here in New Braunfels are able to help people who are experiencing homelessness; thanks to the generosity of people like you.
- Action – The National Alliance to End Homelessness in the United States urges you to take action in helping us put an end to homelessness.
You can help transform the life of someone who is experiencing homelessness.
When we help those in need we all win.
Hope begins in our communities just as it has begun here with the NB Housing Partners organization.
Psalm 102:18; “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”