Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Face that Launched 4000 Battles

I spent my lunch break today hanging out with my friend Megan down on River Street in downtown Savannah. She used to be homeless.
She told me she was going to be working down by the anchor around 1pm and that is where I could find her. Walking down the cobblestone path of River Street, I heard her laughing and singing before I saw her hanging out with her buddies...Megan is one of "those people" down by the waterfront who crafts roses, hearts and crosses out of palm leaves and sells them to tourists. It is how she makes her living and yes she does have a permit to sell.

If you ever have the privelage of meeting Megan, she is an assertive girl with the intestinal fortitude of a four star general. I laugh a lot when she is around, as her sarcastic wit constantly keeps me and my friends on their toes. Case in point. She had never met Ben and last Sunday in Forsyth park she playfully chewed me out for being rude and not introducing him to her. Then to my complete and utter surprise, she marched right up to him, loudly informed him I didn't have any manners and stuck her hand out and introduced herself. My jaw dropped and Ben and I rolled from the encounter. Later on after Latechurch services, she walked up to him again and shamelessly told him she was so glad he was back from military leave as she "was sick and tired of listening to me pine over how much I missed him!" I could feel my face turning 1000 shades of red!!!

Walking up to her on River Street yesterday, I gave her a huge hug and said hello. She introduced me to all of her friends and we chatted for a few minutes before walking off to chat. Looking into her friend's faces, my heart swelled with compassion for them as most are homeless and have been for quite some time. They are a tight knit community that functions more like a loving family than a group of outcasts. Fiercely protective of each other, their very survival is dependent on the other and they thrive because of it.

Megan has a story to tell. A huge one. She has been through a living hell and survived. The sad part is she is one face out of close to 4000 in Savannah who wear the cloak of homelessness. She is a fighter and on the road to recovery for years of abuse waged against her. When I see her I see a face bearing the scars of her own personal war and she is a force to be reckoned with when angry. She is that rare creature who once you meet you never forget.

Most who know me understand my heart for the homeless, but a lot do not understand why I tenaciously spend my sundays week after week feeding them. Right now my friends and I are engaged in an active war to end homelessness. The people we feed and meet all have a story to tell. Sadly many are fighting a losing battle and have been taken captive by their situations. Megan told me yesterday(like she has many times before) that the homeless know who feed and take care of them. Our diligence in loving them week after week is often the weapon used to fuel their hope and break the chains that bind them, but so much more is needed than putting food in their bellies, clothes on their backs and blankets around their battle scarred and worn out bodies.

Think for a minute about what you need to survive this tumultuous life . Little things like getting cleaned up for a job interview become major issues when you don't have access to a hot shower or clean, neatly pressed clothing. How about a resume? Most haven't been taught how to write one effectively enough to even land a job interview. Think about how you react when you walk by one of them. Wrinkling your nose up at how dirty they are or how much they "smell" do you ever take a risk and reach out to blanket them in a warm hug? It's the little things that can tear down the walls and break loose the chains that bind them.

Think about your own lives and your situations. Most of you know that I gave up partying months ago. Taking inventory of my own life, I realized I dreaded going to work each day, yet found myself squandering precious dollars into temporary amusement that left me empty inside. So I decided that in my own misery I needed to make significant changes. Now I take the money I would have spent on a night of carousing and am trying to make a difference in the lives of those without adequate provision or shelter at night. $20 I used to buy two martini's with will now buy enough rice to feed 250 people on a Sunday afternoon and give them the realization that they matter as a child of God.

We all are held captive to our situations and personal battles in one form or another. The difference is once you have been victimized by the assault do you choose to stay a victim or as a survivor do you extend the hand of love and help others overcome. Ignoring and slapping a band-aid over infected wounds within our own hearts and those around us doesn't heal the situation. It only festers and rots the core of who we were created to be.

The challenge is there and whether we choose to battle it or not, we are in a war. How are you fighting? I know that Megan is one of the reasons I do it. For she matters to God. They all matter.

Carefully consider this...what is your Labor of Love...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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