What I learned About Myself From Letting Homeless People Stay At My House For A Week

Homeless_man_in_AnchorageMaybe someday I will tell you the story of how I came to allow a homeless couple to live in my living room for a week. It has a certain entertainment value all its own. However, this post is about what I learned from this experience about the difference between what we like to believe about ourselves versus the truth.

( For those Christians worried I’m ruining my blessings about writing about this, I assure you. I wasn’t going to be getting any anyways. I think I got an F on this test. )

What I learned About Myself From Letting Homeless People Stay At My House For A Week

  1. I am not as compassionate as I thought I was. In fact, I am the worst kind of hypocrite because I was fooling myself. 
    1. The minute I had installed them on the couches, I withdrew to my room and avoided them as much as possible.
    2. I avoided eye contact, and mostly refused to be drawn into conversations.
    3. I didn’t check to see they were comfortable, silently assuming they should be thankful with a roof over their head, running water, and television. I truly suck.
    4. I had a countdown going on in my head until the time they would be leaving. When they decided to leave a few days early, I could barely contain my joy.
    5. It is infinitely easier to give them money than to give them anything else. I don’t value money all that much, so giving it away in small denominations isn’t hard. I do value my time and my attention, and I gave those things very little, and grudgingly. 572509e460cb481251e95662b663fc64
  2. Despite my protests otherwise, I had stereotyped them pretty much like most people do.
    1. I kept watching for signs of mental illness that would be dangerous to us, or an addiction to drugs that would explain their homelessness.
    2. I was kind of appalled when I realized one of them was simply lazy and it didn’t bother her in the least to accept charity instead of working.
    3. I realized pretty quickly the other one had manipulation down to a science, and was constantly working an angle with the kids or me.
    4. I was surprised about the fights they would have with each other about jealousy, what to watch on tv, and other non-homeless specific subjects. Just how narrow-minded am I?!polishedhypo
  3. I worried way more about my worldly possessions than I’m comfortable with.
    1. Every time something went missing like a pack of cigarettes or a DVD, I instantly suspected they had stolen them, even though each time they were found, they had been misplaced by us, not the homeless guests.
    2. Each day, the site of my television still in its place would bring me joy.
    3. I was constantly annoyed by how the lazy one ate all the food all day, and then when Rebekkah, who has food anxiety issues would get upset, the one who works would give us a little cash for more. How do you hide food from a homeless person and still like yourself?Microsoft Word - Document1
  4. I stupidly gave myself way more credit for all those $1 and $5 bills I’ve handed out over the years.
    1. What the hell was I so pumped up about? Seriously, I have never given enough money to someone on a corner to buy them anything more expensive than a coke and some chips.
    2. While this may possibly go down in the history of me as one of the most charitable things I’ve ever done, it is unlikely it affected the homeless couple all that much. They were polite, said how much they appreciated us allowing them to stay with us, and then chattered excitedly about the new life they were embarking on. images
  5. Sometimes, people are homeless because of their choices, not just mental illness or addictions. 
    1. I learned that while a lot of people end up on the streets for the big reasons – mental illness, addiction, and other coping problems – there is a fair number of them who just don’t want to work for things. I’m surprised at how surprised I am at this.
    2. I learned a little bit more about a whole sub-culture of life that homeless people belong to. They have a hierarchy within their ranks, and they have their own sort of schedule to follow if they want to eat, get clothes, and have a warm place to sleep.quotes-quote-self-fulfillment-awarenes-help-improvement

I am glad for this experience, and the kids and I had a nice reality check about just who we really are. Nothing like living with homeless people in your living room to know just how much of a snob you really are. My perspective, yet again, has shifted to a more honest viewpoint, which includes a hiatus on this extreme kind of charitable act for the foreseeable future.

12 responses to “What I learned About Myself From Letting Homeless People Stay At My House For A Week”

  1. Bird . ..God bless you. I went through something a little similar. Not a homeless person, but someone who would need to stay with us until they could find a home of their own. Only Bird . .. I began to see all the things in myself that you mentioned you found out about yourself, and the move here never happened. I think God saved them from me. I am still having a hard time dealing with this and forgiving myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, Debbie. I do forgive myself, and you should too. Here’s the thing. There is no shame in acknowledging your shortcomings. The shame comes from refusing to see what you don’t want to see, knowing you have no plans to change. All we can do is thank God He is still training us, and keep moving forward. We look even worse the closer we move towards the Light, not better. If you think you are finally becoming a holy vessel of God, you haven’t been moving towards Him, you’re further away. But hey, Debbie! I’m glad for the company back here in the short bus of Christianity! We’ll get there! Mainly because, our success depends not even a little bit on ourselves. Okay?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh thank you! Immensely! You put it all in the right perspective of knowing now and asking Him to change me and train me, forever and ever. 🙂 Thanks for saving me a seat on the short bus!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lol, it’s pretty crowded on this bus, isn’t it? I am glad you can get over your disappointment in yourself. Too often we stop there, fretting over our weaknesses and we forget, the success of our salvation rests entirely on Jesus. God knew who He was dealing with. We aren’t surprising him with our crappy attempts to be worthy. Don’t worry too much about trip ups. Focus on getting up, dusting yourself off, examining what you have learned, and moving forward again. Some of us live in the dirt, we mess up so much. It is the act of running with endurance the race that is more valuable than being the winner. Right? Have a great Sunday, Debbie!!


  2. Wow. You are brave and honest. I think we all like to think of ourselves as giving, caring people and while we are, it’s is certainly within the parameters of our own comfort zone. Kudos to you for pushing the limits of your comfort and learning in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What happened in that time, is likely what would happen in many of our homes. What you can say Catherine is that you did ‘take’ them into your home. I’m not sure that a lot of us would, because of all the issues that happened.. (would happen in our minds, BEFORE we even thought of doing it. Maybe we’d like to believe that it wouldn’t be so, but maybe we’d be kidding ourselves…. Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your candor and honesty are thought provoking. I think you revealed just how human we really are. You are not alone in your reactions. Your article was a reality check for me; how would I react in a similar situation. Thank-you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely love your honesty. I struggle with my feelings on this on a regular basis. I’m constantly wondering if I’m doing enough to help the homeless population but find it so easy to look the other way. I have a feeling I would have your same reaction. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing. Oftentimes, we don’t look at ourselves critically and reflect on our shortcomings (something we all have). It’s great that you were able to be so candid about your true feelings while they were staying with you. Hopefully, this will help you grow and learn more about yourself. I must admit I would have probably had many of the same feelings. We all need to broaden our minds on this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Having worked for the welfare board, it took years for me to not resent those on the dole. People who were homeless were either mentally ill or didn’t pay their rent. So thankful that God doesn’t judge me the way I judge others! He is still working on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. I attend a support group now and a guy in there that I have only met a couple of times is telling us that his hours have been cut and he may have to go back to living in his van soon. I feel nudged to help him in some way… but I’ll be honest the thought of asking him to come stay at my place gives me anxiety and I honestly do not want to do it, so in that sense.. I feel some pressure by God to live up to something that I don’t want to do.. such is life I guess… and yes THANK YOU GOD for being so patient with us. I definitely have a LONG LONG way to go. Thank you again

    Liked by 1 person

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