Perspective — When Your Friend is Homeless

She wandered into our lives over a year ago …asking for work .  If I could draw a picture, I would draw a  very thin woman — average height —  with sandy blonde hair ,  a contagious  smile  and   sparkling blue eyes.

“Do you have any work I can do ?  I’m hungry.  I just need $4.00.  I’ll do anything — wash windows, clean your bathroom, rake leaves, cut the grass.  ”

She rarely just asks for money — although, there’s the occasional, “Do you have  50 cents so I can buy a  cigarette?”   Most often, the plea is attached to a willingness to do honest  work because she says that makes her feel better about herself .

We’ve let her rake and clean and paint — honest work — trying hard to preserve her personal dignity and worth as best we know how.

The question is often asked, “But what do “they” do with the money they earn ? ”  and I’m wondering if the question that should burn deeper  is , “But what do we do with the money we earn?”

There are some who tell me there’s no hope …”you’ll only change maybe one out of  a hundred”,  they say .  They tell me it’s a  cycle in and out of jail or rehab — cleaning up and fattening up for 3 months or so — then back on the streets again.

Both fear of the “what if” or knowledge of the “what is” can paralyze.  Love frees both to walk.  Reputations come and go  …loving someone home to Jesus lasts forever.  It gets messy .  I get anxious.  Jesus urges me to press through all of that.   I pray for discernment and the Holy Spirit’s minute-by-minute guidance …and try to keep walking.

We have many  conversations around our kitchen island or on our front porch or in our living room as we offer a plate of food or something cold to drink on these hot southern days.  Along with  many  others — neighbors, friends, and family –we offer clothes, necessities ...we offer friendship.

We listen to stories of abuse and rejection and loss and I can’t hold back the tears wondering how anyone could survive her story.  Her birth certificate may give an accurate age according to years  but her face tells time in a whole different way …worn, tired, lonely, heavy.  And yet I see the most beautiful blue eyes and a smile seep through her worn face that brightens any room  …changing the view into someone beautiful …someone who deserves to be loved and valued.

Turns out she loves music and playing the piano and the guitar.  With childlike giddiness, she says, “Let’s go inside and play the piano and sing!”  …and we do just that …me and my homeless friend sitting together  at the piano singing “Amazing Grace” as grace flows down on both of us …both in need of that same grace and both homeless … waiting on our “real home” that’s not of this world.

Her knock on the door one afternoon was of desperation .  She wanted to come in and play the piano or guitar .  Our house was full that day and at first, it seemed a bit of an interruption .  Her persistence melted my heart and we invited her to come on in.  She came in– only to play our little  guitar for a brief few  minutes — much like a 5 year old would do.   It was just what she needed, she said …” to calm her nerves”.

I desperately wanted to take her under my wings and bring her in and give her a home that’s loving and secure …one  she’s always  longed for and dreamed about  but I wondered if walls could hold her …if my normal would fit the largeness of her life …if my borders would  seem claustrophobic for the life of open sky she’s used to.

When she  shows up on our doorstep for a visit, it’s as if a long-lost family member has come home and we welcome her back in every time   — never letting go of her in between the here …or there.  There are hugs, laughter, sometimes   music and almost always eating  together.  There are usually more  stories shared that have marked her life and our’s …ending  with  her famous response —  “Bless your heart”.  But I’ll never forget her words  as she was leaving  one day recently … she turned and said, “Thank you for being my friend.”

Nights later I had a dream.  It was simple, but full of excitement.  I was In heaven saying hello to others I knew  when across the room   a  very thin woman — average height —  with sandy blonde hair  , a contagious  smile  and   sparkling blue eyes turned  around and smiled mischievously. I was so excited …and  shocked !  There she was — my homeless friend !  …an angel all along !

Needless to say, my perspective has changed since that dream !

 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.    

Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

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  1. phyllis kramm

    Hello Joy, This has touched my heart & spirit, to know how true this is in Reality (Angels that we are not Aware of) come into our lives daily & Bless us in ways we will never know until they smile at us in heaven /just as your dream showed.Thank you for sharing & blessing”s to you today & always

  2. Amy Zipf

    Love you, beautiful one. 🙂

  3. alfarmergirl

    Wow, thank you for sharing, still don’t have any tissues anywhere, needed a spoiler alert. Thank you for being my friend too

  4. kathy

    Zephra wanted me to read this aloud to her. We both enjoyed it. I was reading lately about when we’ll be judged for our “building materials” (you know, they will be tested with fire and only the precious materials will last), and I noticed for the first time that it seems like Paul was referring to the materials we use to build on other people’s lives, not necessarily just our own. We’re not in charge of other people’s outcomes, just what we put into them.

    1. I never thought about the “building materials” Kathy ! Good word to me ! Thanks — and thank Zephra for being my little friend ! Love you guys !

  5. Living the life Jesus asked us to live out. It doesn’t get any better than this right Joy? Now all we need is an army of people who are willing to love extravagantly – no strings attached love that’s full of grace and global transformation becomes a possibility. You and Rog are rockin’ the world! Love you!

  6. Roger

    Beautiful words, Joy. The haunting words of Ed Sheeran’s song, the A Team, came to me as I read.

    1. Joy Waters Martin

      I had that same song going on in my head too Roger ! Love walking this out together with you !

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