i look around and see so many and wonder what is going on in their lives. i pulled up and saw a heavy set girl speaking to a thin handsome boy, her hands folded in front of her shyly looking to the ground. rocking back and forth, not looking at him, which i found odd. then, as i looked closer, i realized she was crying.. was he breaking her, a wound that would never heal, a trust broken, a life that would walk around among us un-noticed…unless we really look, i mean really look. you can see wounds, poverty, shame of being overweight, hopelessness, depression finacial devastation, or the loss of one’s self to this world of material things. these things become a part of our outer self, because those around do see us, but not in a way that we would hope to be seen. the overweight teenager’s head hangs a little lower, her demeanor screams “i am less than you”, she gives herself to lovers for the feeling she gets in the brief moments of being touched. hopelessness and depression has a darkness, a sadness, that follows that person and stands behind them. your heart tightens and your throat swells, you can see the darkness…no laughter, no light, no hope. you feel that heavy burdern. the man losing his job of 24yrs his temple is tight his lips are pursed, his shoulders are low his step without buoyancy, because he knows there will be no bouncing back and he will have to face losing his home and his family, of being homeless. “poverty”…poverty has a aroma, a look, a presence it caries with it. it can’t hide.. it’s always right out front. that person can’t hide it. shoes almost pass, but just a little too big, a little too worn, jeans almost ok, but have holes and not the right brand, hair not maintained as neatly as most. in some you can see bitterness in others you see humiliation.
as i’m sitting here in this starbucks in an affluent area i have seen and overheard conversations of all of these people…right in front of me. the over weight teenager walks in head low, blows her nose and calls her friend. yes, she was dumped. she meanders around starbucks, no eye contact, off to herself knowing she doesn’t t fit in. i see a 30 something man staring out the window, a deep saddnes in his eyes, unshaven, slightly un-kept clothes, all signs of depression i smile and it seems he doesn’t have the energy to smile back. my heart hurts for him. i see a mom and child approaching me and she is almost dragging the child. i hear “DAVID come on”. i instantly feel my temper set fire, then i notice the shoes 3 times too big, his clothes are dirty, his hair a mess, my throat begins to close, i feel my chest tighten. i see his face, not the rambuncious, curious look of a 5year, but a look of poverty, hopelessness, i want to snatch him up and bring him into my arms. and, well, i wont say what i’d like to do to the mother.
i say all that to say this, i felt a deep stirring to tell our famiy story. exposing oneself is very difficult, quite honestly, humiliating, but, if we don’t share what have our experiences been worth? they have been of no value, no purpose, they die with us. they help no one. if i see so many hurting people in one place, in my small world i know there are too many for this to reach. there were times in this journey i faced hopeless, depression, darkness, sadness, and yes homelessness (of a sort) our family, for a time, was displaced. i heard from so many friends and foes “God helps those who help themselves”. this is not only misleading, its just dad gum crap. what i didn’t understand was why it always seemed a brighter day, a miracle, an answer to a prayer always preceded total helplesslness. when i was so outta control all i could do was babble like a baby and not able to do anything for myself. why??? ugh!! God i am weak, especially when it comes to my kids. truth be told we had nothing to do with who we were born to, black or white, american or chinese, male or female. nor can we influence or change our ancestry or our basic physical apperence. after we are born, a power controls every vital function that sustains us…keeps our heart, lungs our blood circulation our body temperature at 98 degrees. a doctor can cut into our tissue but cannot force it to join back together. even this small planet we live on rotates perfectly, and is the exact distance from its light and heat source. all this continues on without any help from us mere humans. the persuasion of humanism, since the Renaissance, has told us we are quite capable of handling our own destiny. we are lone souls, not in need of any one or higher power, i just couldn’t wrap my mind around that, since my youth i believed in a higher power than myself, a force that knew me before i was born. yet the world tells us we can exist on our own without community or an absolute being. the lady of justice would tip the scales our way if we just keep our tally balanced. this is all quite a fantasy when you walk out in a summer breeze and see the rose springing up in your garden. but what happens to a person’s soul when they tend to, fertilize and take great care of that garden and it dies. it shatters their very existence, the core of what makes us human, our ability to love, trust, laugh…it wounds, it destroys. “my garden died a dark death”. i took great measures, i invested my entire being, lined up the scales to balance, or so i thought, and it wasn’t enough. nothing came at the last minute, nothing changed, all my human abilities and strength just were not enough. what i didn’t need was a lecture on what i had done wrong, a pithy lil saying, “God helps those who helps themselves”?, or yet another sermon about prosperity. PLEASE!! what i needed was HOPE.. rich or poor, brown or white, yellow or red it makes no difference, we all have an innate need to hope.
the day i began entering my thoughts on a “blog” i had just recently gotten an email, mind you this was 2012! i had never seen a blog, and i was completely computer illiterate. i thought “good Lord, beside the humiliation of being completely exposed in our hometown, i’m no writer, no literary scholar, not studied on much of anything. i didn’t even graduate college….this i did know.
the man whose wife of 20 yrs leaves him and he’s alone to raise his kids, needs hope. not self preservation. a couple who holds their new baby until it passes needs hope, not self preservation, the mom who’s being beaten and fears for her life, she needs hope, not self preservation. the teenager being molested by her stepfather, she needs HOPE.
this i can give, but one thing that was non negotiable was complete transparency. i would spew out my thoughts on to that screen, even when they displayed my weaknesses and ugliness. times of self pity, or bitterness, or anger. abandonment by friends, or groups we loved. i would tell of our valleys and i think even more importantly, or at least equally, i would share the moments we came out of those valleys. here’s where it gets good. hope! i would share hope. my scales were tipped exactly how they should be, bad things happen to good people, things die and seasons come and go, what is important is how you handle yourself, even if you fail to “maintain character” you vow to bind yourself to others. nothing binds you to someone like experience. helplessness just may be one of the greatest assets a human can have.
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