Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Homeless can be Heartless
We got burnt. As some of you know, our church serves the homeless a fantastic breakfast out of our tiny church office downtown. (See a prior blog, Jan.10, The Clueless Serving the Homeless.)
It's tiny, cramped quarters and at 7:00a.m. we open the doors and 70+ men and women come pouring in. Last week, one of them began making a scene and wouldn't de-escalate so I approached him and told him he had two options: calm down or he'd have to leave. He responded, "Oh, so you want to play hard-ball!" Time passed and one of our team-members saw him on his cellphone and 10 minutes later the fire marshal showed up, saying someone had complained about so many people being in a small space. This past week the fire marshal met with our pastor and determined that occupancy is 49. Our teams average about 10 people, so to be safe we now have to let 35 in while the others stand outside in the cold.
Yeh, it could just be a coincidence; maybe he was calling his mother to wish her Happy Valentine's Day. I confronted him privately, and, of course, he denied everything. He didn't acknowledge he had called the fire marshal; but neither did he claim he called his mother.
Why would you do that to people who week in and week out have provided you food and clothing? Why would you jeopardize your fellow-homeless peers by taking an action that could have potentially shout down the entire operation? I'll never know.
This I know. We will continue to serve him. Though he made a terribly misguided decision, he, nonetheless, still needs food and clothing. We began this outreach and will continue to serve not because of the warm, appreciative response or outcome but because (1) Christ has called us to do so (2) these individuals have a desperate need which we can meet.
At this point, I do not FEEL warmly toward him or loving of him. I want to shove him against the wall and scream, "What the hell are you doin', you ungrateul slob!?!") (Again, see my prior blog which will explain a lot.)
I have had this stark "awakening": my attitude of and desire for revenge is no different than his. My desire to take matters into my own hands is no less misguided than the decision he made. My anger is no less toxic than his.
So I back off and,instead, I DO loving things for him in spite of, at the moment, having loathing feelings.
Sometimes, those serving the homeless can be heartless, too.