like some of you, i used to be afraid of homeless people.
but that all changed the day the course of my life did.
i remember coming in from my 'tour' of east hastings in vancouver [the poorest postal code in canada] and weeping - a gut wrenching weep - in the corner of the organization we were partnering with that week. though i wasn't sure what was happening inside of me at the time, i believe, looking back, that God was giving me a specific burden for that city, because, well, four months later, i jumped on my first solo plane ride and moved there for an internship.
i thought i was going there to change the world, you see. my naive 22 year old self thought that i was going to play an instrumental part in seeing heroin addicts set free from their addiction and play an even bigger part in ridding the streets from homelessness for good.
little did i know that God would use that seven month internship to show me just how broken i was, and how, in fact, it was my very brokenness that would help me better connect with those i sought out to help.
truth be told, i am no better than the ones i hand out water to on an almost weekly basis, and neither are you, and if we push past our fears and open our eyes, we may be surprised at just how much we actually have in common with those we're prone to overlook.
a bright yellow sign caught my attention as i was walking through downtown toronto last week during 'project high-five':
"suffer from depression and anxiety", it read. "welfare only helps so much".
being one that has battled such a debilitating disease, my heart automatically connected with the life behind the sign.
"may i?" i said, as i sat down beside her.
from there we talked briefly about our battle with depression, but more about the way she was treated on a daily basis. i wasn't shocked at the things people say or do to her as they walk by, but it confirmed all that i have been thinking and fueled me to do even more to break down the stigma attached to homelessness.
you see, roof over our head or not, we're all the same; we are all humans with beating hearts, and feelings, we all bleed red, and all of us - every single one of us - has a story.
still afraid? let this two minute video help:
[you may have to copy and paste it into your browser]