Just as some people go to the Chiropractor for a back or neck adjustment, I have been in need of an attitude adjustment.
Why do I so easily slip into pity party mode? Why do I not always see the blessings I am surrounded by? How is it that I know I have so much to be grateful for but then can get so focused on the things that aren’t perfect or wrong?
And why is it, that the first thing I do when I’m feeling this way, is retreat from people and the world and hide?
Now that I don’t have work for a month, I have to literally make myself leave my house or make contact with other people. Ugh.
Along with my search for a “fix” that could correct or adjust my attitude, I decided to take my first step of faith in my confidence building course for 2010, and do something I’ve wanted to do but have let fear keep me from doing.
Find and volunteer at a homeless shelter.
I share with you this, not to toot my own horn and not because I want you to pat me on the back or say I’m great or think I am so much better. If you know me at all you know I hate tooting my own horn. I would think you would know that I definitely don’t think of myself as being better then anyone.
Last week I made calls to 2 different homeless shelters in a town much bigger then ours and about 45 miles away. One being a men’s only shelter, I was told are in sore need of men’s clothing and warm outer wear since it is here in Minnesota. The other is a family shelter and takes men’s, women’s and children's clothing, household items, furniture and pretty much anything. In talking to both, I found out they both need volunteers to serve meals, prepare meals and various other things.
Yesterday, my husband and I took our first van full and dropped off the women’s and children's items. We were dismayed at the condition of this thrift store. As we walked around and looked we were shocked at what poor condition many of the items were in. This place was packed full of junk. Many of the clothes were ripped, torn, and stained. We sensed the frustration of the man running this part of the shelter. We over heard him talking to some volunteers about having junk dropped off and how he is suppose to figure out what to do with it. I watched volunteers going through things, digging for items that had worth in being reused.
Seeing all of this, cemented, why I will not give away anything that is ripped, torn or stained. I have a hard time donating something that I consider ugly let alone a shirt with the buttons missing or stained up. Do people really not think about the condition of what they donate? Seeing this, kind of pissed me off, that people would dump their junk on a shelter as if the worth of homeless people is somehow less then themselves.
If you donate clothing or shoes or anything for that matter, please don’t give away things that are in poor condition.
We took all the men’s clothing to the men’s only shelter and while we were waiting for someone to get us applications for volunteering, I watched as a woman volunteer opened the bags and men gathered around her. Watching their faces light up over the clothing they were given made me almost start crying right then and there. Within 5 minutes of us walking in the door, the clothing was handed out! No wonder I was told they were in sore need of men’s clothing.
This place was pretty old and run down and a couple of guys were doing some remodeling type of work on one part of the room. As I looked around this big old room, what stuck out to me was the smiles on their faces. They were just happy to have a place to be…a place to be with other people, like them, that have nothing and no where to go. A warm place to sit. A place to eat and sleep. And watching them gather around these bags of clothes almost felt surreal.
I will not lie. I felt uncomfortable. I felt sad. I didn’t really know what to say.
The volunteer that talked to us, was a gentlemen that I am guessing is in his late 40’s and I am pretty sure he was mentally “slow”. It was his attitude. He stood there in his worn out clothes, with such a smile on his face. And he looked me in the eyes. He told me with such honesty and simplicity that ever since he started volunteering at the shelter, that he was no longer depressed and lonely. That he loved coming there and that he used to think that he didn’t have anything to offer anyone. But now he does. He also told me that he hopes I come back and that maybe I will get to work with him. How beautiful is that?
I wanted to lay on the floor and cry. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to thank him for adjusting my poor attitude as of late.
My encounter with this man, while watching our clothes be distributed, was only over a 5-10 minutes time frame, if even that. It was surreal. It’s because of these things that I share this story with you. This encounter shook the pity party attitude right out of me.
I was adjusted in a homeless shelter.
Here I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and trying to avoid people and here are people starving for food, company and love. Here are people that have nothing and here I am with so much. But for the grace of God, that could be me. Or one of my loved ones.
After our visits to the shelters we went grocery shopping and then after picking up the little’s from daycare, we all worked at putting everything away. Once again, attitude adjustment. The little’s happy exclamations over how lucky we are to have all this good food puts me in my place. How happy they are just to be home and that they feel so important to help.
The little’s had helped and watched us go through clothing and various items over the weekend and knew we were taking these things to a shelter. When little lady would cry about giving away some baby book she hasn’t read since she was a baby we would talk about those that have nothing. Literally.
We talked about our experience at the shelters and how happy they were to have our clothes and books. As I listened to the little’s pray last night for these homeless people, my gratefulness for all we have grew and grew.
These homeless people are someone’s son, or daughter, or sister or brother or mother or father. No matter how they got to this point of being homeless, they are people. They are people that hunger for food, and love just like you and I do. They are people that have worth and value just as you and me but most of them don’t know it.
When little man told me that Jesus loves the homeless people and that we should too…talk about an adjustment.
When little lady came to me later with a book from her book shelf and said “Mommy we can give this book to a little girl that doesn’t have any books.” I was slapped with another adjustment.
Here we are in a warm house. In a warm house this filled with “stuff” and surrounded by love. We don’t give a single worry whether we will have food to eat on any single day. As I wash our clothes today and clean our bathrooms I will be thankful to have these things to clean.
We who are so full of abundance, don’t have a clue to what it would be like to beg or to sign into a shelter for a night at a time.
I did talk to another volunteer and was told that one of the biggest needs is warm socks. I was told that they suggest to people to stick a couple pairs of socks in your coat pocket and that when you encounter a homeless person to give them socks. That it’s just as valuable as money. Just an idea.
In light of the devastation in Haiti at this time, I am humbled. Hearing my daughter tell me that her coworker didn’t know if her family was dead or alive yesterday, stung me deep inside my soul. I cannot imagine the terror should that be my loved ones. Hearing that they are alive brought joy, yet knowing of all those that aren’t is heart breaking. Hearing what a famous TV evangelist said about this horrible tragedy sickens me. Some people think that if you are a believer that you think just like him. NOT. How it must break God’s heart to hear his people say such ignorant things.
In light of all these things, my “stuff” that I worry about or get caught up in, are so minor and small. I’m ashamed. I am humbled. I am grateful.
Next week we will go back with more men’s clothes since I have already had people contact me with having clothes to donate. I talked to someone this morning that is willing to donate a whole bunch of farm raised beef for making pots of stew, soups and sandwiches. Amazing!
I would be lying if I said that I am not scared to be stepping out of my comfort zone. But, I have two little people that are spurring me on with their innocent faith and a husband that is very excited to do some cooking with me. I am excited about this confidence training set before me. I am excited to hear about other people that are stepping out and doing some of the same, in their own parts of the country.
There’s a whole lot of good in our world. Lots of the time it’s staring me in the face and yet I miss it. There is nothing like an attitude adjustment to see more clearly.
I am confident that I will keep my eye’s wide open so that I can see what I need to see…that I will keep my ear’s open so that I will hear…that I will keep my mind open so that I will think on these good things…that I will keep my heart and arms wide open so that I will receive and accept whoever comes my way. I am confident that I will go where I am suppose to go…be where I’m suppose to be right now. I am confident that I won’t let fear stand in my way.
Love & Hugs, Lori