On Saturday my husband and I donated some of our time and resources at a women and children shelter in downtown Phoenix.
This blog is about my experience leading up to, during and since. It has nothing to do with my usual stuff about being a purpose driven entrepreneur. It is everything to do with my experience of the heart. Nothing more. Nothing less. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I hope it is inspiring.
So this is where it begins. My husband's previous bible study group sends out an email requesting male volunteers for their time at a homeless shelter. He shares with me that this is something he would like to experience with me. So he declines the offer and asks me to contact an organization for us both to serve at.
Before I got to that 'task' we see in our church bulletin that Sunday about the Matthew25Project and their work with feeding the homeless at several different locations within downtown Phoenix. Tom (my husband) and I both looked at each other and smiled. God knows our heart and will always open doors for us when we are ready. Or maybe the door is always open.. we just don't notice it until we are ready.
Inside the flyer we picked up at church there was a list of grocery items we could donate if we chose to. So, we put aside some money and decided we would purchase some things to donate. Diapers, baby food, baby formula etc etc. For those of you who know me and my struggles with having a family of our own, just the thought of babies without a home started to break my heart. Leading up to Saturday and the image I had in my head, based on both past experiences and also cliche of homelessness, my heart is already anticipating what's to come.
But I tell you this.. buying that stuff made me feel so alive. Being able to give is always such a great feeling. Pushing that cart through Safeway was an awesome feeling. I probably looked like any other mother doing her groceries... Diapers, baby food, baby formula etc etc. And even though I'm not yet a Mom I felt like I was being a providing Mommy in that moment. It was very rewarding.
Of course, I had not yet seen the faces of these babies or of their Moms.
Once we arrived we were instructed on what our roles would be. I was nominated to 'oversee' providing soda along with 3 volunteer kids.
There were about 20 of us in total and we would be feeding 200 women and children at 6pm.
What I experienced during and after:
What I thought I would experience of these women and children is that they would all have a sadness. And don't get me wrong some of them looked emotionally beaten. Some even looked embarrassed. (I'm assuming when one is new to being homeless they suddenly feel the judgement they once had on other homeless people. Just my assumption.)
I really thought they had certain things they would worry about. Like getting through each day. Like keeping themselves and their children safe. So, the next similarity which came dressed in a question surprised me.
Several women asked if any of their drink options were 'diet'. Old habits die hard I guess. Or maybe they just become accustomed to their life as a 'homeless person' that their life is about as normal as mine. Instead of eating at restaurants on the days and nights I can't be bothered cooking, or traveling around the world for business and pleasure, their life just looks different. Just like the difference between those who drive a Bentley and eat out every night (not just on the nights when they can't be bothered cooking) and me. We are different. Yet we are all the same.
I don't know if it was what the Matthew25Project founder said before we started our dinner service but my experience with these women and children was nothing like I thought it would be. He had said to remember the woman at the well that was shunned by society because of her choices in life but yet Jesus loved her anyway.
As I served them their drink options I did see them just like me. I saw these women like a bunch of friends. I saw them like a bunch of people in a restaurant and I was simply their waitress. They were polite. Laughed about my funny accent. Talked about their boyfriends and breaking up and making up. They talked about their day. They talked about what they would do after dinner.
What I noticed about myself in reflection:
If I'm really honest, I'm guilty in my life of reserving judgement for those I have not met. I find it easy to judge a mother without a home or job until I stand across from her and ask her if she would prefer Pepsi, Sun Drop or Lemonaide to go with what could be her only meal for the day. It is easy for me to reserve my judgement for the children with behavioural problems until I kneel down to ask them if I can carry their drink for them because they had their tiny hands full trying to carry perhaps the only meal they would eat all day.
Because when I stand across from them or kneel beside them I get to look into their eyes. I get to see that they are just like me. They have hopes and dreams, they have hurts and disappointments. They laugh, they cry. They make poor choices and they make good ones. They are all just like me.
Their situation is unique yet they are not dissimilar.
Despite their seemingly satisfied disposition, when I think about the lack in their life, the lack of ample shelter and food, it breaks my heart. Given my purpose and mission in life (to inspire and empower other women to live out their God-given purpose) it breaks my heart because these women are just like me. They have been given a purpose and I'm not to judge if they are living it out or not, but I'm going to assume they aren't. But then neither are most the women I pass by the grocery store. So, that also breaks my heart.
And it gives me confidence in my God-given purpose and a knowingness that I won't stop until I take my last breath. I'm blessed to know my purpose and to have a relationship with Christ whom I can do all things through.
It is my heart's desire that you continue to live in accordance with your purpose. Because imagine if just a third of the women of the world lived according to their purpose. I wonder if we would have the same problems. Or instead, perhaps we would create solutions.
What if the answer to a disease was locked inside someone's mind because of their lack of willingness to step into their greatness and their purpose? What if someone had the solution that would end homelessness in their community? What if? What if? What if?
In His Purpose,
"I am committed to inspiring, empowering and educating women on being architects of change in the world, using enterprise as a vehicle - all according to their Purpose, Passion and Strengths."
"Find out what you love to do, discover what it is you do best & be an agent of change in the world. Now that's a life worth living!" Melissa Haupt.
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