A Cry for Peace.

Full disclosure: the last couple weeks have been ugly. I’ve been ugly. The internet’s been ugly. Everything has seemingly to take on the face of a monster and I’ve completely lost it. Twice. (Okay more like 6 times, but there were two really big breakdowns…uhh, both in public settings. Good grief.)

Between some crazy happenings here on Skid Row and the controversy regarding World Vision, at one point I really believed I might lose my sanity for good and with it my desire to keep going on this mission of reconciliation among those living in the margins.

Because honestly, I am tired. I am tired of fighting and I am tired of caring. Caring just seems to hurt.

I’m tired of feeling like I am the only one who stays up at night thinking about the things of this world that are amiss and the ways in which we are failing so many of our brothers and sisters. (I am not actually the only one, by the way.) I’m tired of watching people be battered and bruised and I’m tired feeling like all I do is scream about injustice all day long.

But somewhere along the lines I learned this; I don’t know how to not care. I don’t know how to sorta feel anything.

If you give me a topic, two differing viewpoints and 3 ½ minutes, I will come up with a stance that I am so passionate about you’d think I’d have devoted my whole life to it. Although this can be a positive catalyst, it also threatens to kill me.

Last week, during one of my two mental-breakdown-cryfests (while WALKING DOWN THE STREET talking into my headphones. I am an embarrassment.) I was talking to a friend and I stated through sobs “I just can’t, I can’t care anymore. I am done. This is the end of me. I have nothing left in me.” (No, I am not dramatic, stop judging me.)

In that moment I felt incredibly overwhelmed and like perhaps God had in fact simply forgotten what he’d set out to do in me. I was starting to resign myself to the idea that maybe He just wanted me to be miserable after all. Because that’s how I often feel when I look around at how many people are being hurt at the hands of the privileged; just miserable.

My dear, patient friend however, instead of jumping down the swirling sink with me, gently reminded me of the narrative in the Bible about the Israelites. In this story, God chose to carry his people out of exile by taking them through the desert for 40 years. (Am I the only one who easily forgets that, that is a long freaking time?)

While in the desert the Israelites wandered and cried (sounds familiar), often submitting themselves to the idea that perhaps they should just turn around and go back into oppression. WHAT THE WHAT?

Why would anyone willingly go back into slavery? Because they were scared. They’d hit a snag, freak out and begin to doubt that God had ever called them to such a crazy journey.

Maybe we read the signs wrong, maybe the miracles and proverbial open doors were just a coincidence. Maybe we were never meant for this life after all.

As anyone who has read Exodus knows, the Israelites did eventually make it to the Promised Land, finding freedom for their people for generations to come – but not without hardship, it wasn’t handed to them. Lives were lost, families were split, hearts were broken.

But in the end, the people of Israel were free.

Am I willing to endure the wandering, the heartache and the mess that comes with restoration, reconciliation and justice?

Yep, I am. But Lord help me because I am tired, teary and feeling awfully human these days.

So what does this mean? Where do I go from here? This crazed passion is embedded in my make-up. If I am to live into who I believe God has designed me to be, for Him, now is not the time to give up.

But perhaps now is the time pause, catch my breath, regroup and remember why I am here and WHO sent me – because if I don’t I’ll never make it. I will spit and sputter and eventually burnout. This is a marathon, not a sprint – I want to finish this race, not collapse somewhere in the chaos.

I want…no, I need to take some time to pray. I need to pray for the things that break my heart, not merely write, tweet and scream about them. Prayer has all too often become my last resort, not my first. This should never be.

I want to figure out how to use my voice to elicit only positive change. It often feels like everything I read whether on blogs, twitter, facebook or other social outlets, stems from some sort of anger or rebuttal.

I regularly find myself reading scathing or snarky words (sometimes my own) used to describe others as unkind, unjust or unbiblical, with words that are written with such a strong venom and condescension that they are not only muting the point, they’re tearing everyone down in their wake.

I want to be someone who stands up for what I believe in, not just for what I don’t. I want to extend grace in order to seek reconciliationrestoration and unity, even when I am angry and struggling to see the other side.

I don’t believe it’s wrong to be angry, but it’s what we do with that anger that will decide if we move toward peace or if we move toward destruction.

I want to defend the marginalized human, but not by way of destroying another human. I want to meet at the cross. I want to be kind and speak when I have something productive to say, while staying quiet when my words will only wound.

For the next few weeks I will only be posting prayers for healing on here. I want to go back to where I started and refocus. I originally intended to cease posting anything at all for awhile, but my heart longs to bring you in on this.

I want to join hands and pray for reconciliation and shalom together.

Will you join me?

 

If you are interested in writing out a prayer of your own for this site, with the purpose of ushering in reconciliation and justice, drop me a line on twitter, facebook or by email. (hitonbythehomeless@gmail.com)

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March Against Excess: Day #31

Guys, we did it. Can you hear it? The cheers, the sighs of relief, the empty sounds of hollow closets. (That last one actually not true in my case, I still have a lot of crap to let go of before we’ll get anything close to an echo…baby steps, y’all.)

We made it through the March Against Excess. Thirty-one days of giving, complete.

Personally, I feel a sense of relief, new-found freedom and like I will be wading through piles of stuff for the next three months in an attempt to get them into just the right hands.

I originally set out to cease all spending that was not necessary (absolutely no clothes, which was only hard when I saw a really cute sweater on sale) and give away three of my belongings per day for the month of March, but THEN because I was so nervous that I couldn’t do it, switched it to two items per day. This decision evidently invited that pesky LOUD voice in my head that began to nag and nag until I finally gave in and settled back to three items.

The final purge verdict; 144 of my possessions have been removed and are in the process of being given to those in need. As it turns out, I had a lot more things that needed new homes than I’d originally thought.

In an attempt at transparency and full disclosure, I give you the itemized list:

31 pairs of shoes (umm, WHAT? Also, I still have way too many, especially given I more or less rotate between two pairs of boots and flip-flops.)
18 sweatshirts/jackets
13 bags
1 computer
18 scarves (Yeah, I know I live in L.A. and it’s not “cold” to the rest of you, but whatever I evidently hoard scarves.)
4 beanies
9 pairs of jeans/pants
13 tops
11 tank tops
10 dresses/skirts
8 sweaters
7 pieces of jewelry
1 lamp

Please hear this loud and clear; the number of belongings I am giving away is not something I am proud of, in fact I am totally embarrassed by it. I didn’t want to write about it at all. I should not have that many things that I don’t need, when so many are living without basic necessities. But I am learning and trying to change, with the plan to continue utilizing these principles as way of life, not merely a month-long project.

I can honestly say that have come to find complete joy in releasing the tight grip that I once employed in an attempt to hold onto my earthly belongings. I pray that I never lose sight of this again, that my life would paint a different picture; one that gives extravagantly in an effort to meet both physical and emotional needs.

At present time, my belongings are categorized into two piles; a pile of clothing that will be taken to the “store” that my parents church has set up, where homeless men and women can come pick out things that they need, free of charge. The other pile is comprised of specifically chosen clothing that are perhaps not practical for a woman living on the street (ie; jewelry, high heels, dresses, etc.) that will be donated to young single moms who have transitioned out of homelessness, but may not have the finances to buy themselves extra treats.

I am so in love with the idea of giving to these women in the in-between; the often forgotten women who are just regaining their footing. Perhaps these women have a job interview or a date they want to put on jewelry or heels for, but don’t have the means to gussy up, as their paychecks are spent before they’re received in an effort to keep the lights burning and food on the table. I want these women to walk with confidence, knowing that they are remembered and that they are special.

It’s pretty crazy to think that it’s only been a month since this project began. One month ago I was dragging my feet, begging God to let me off the hook on this one and He just wouldn’t let up. Thirty-one days later I can state with conviction that although I am not as far as I long to go, I have been changed, not simply by my own personal experience, but by the experiences of others that have shared in this journey and encouraged me with their words and inspiration.

Twenty-six friends agreed to take part in this movement, in some form or fashion. That’s twenty-six stories that have spoken loudly and poignantly, pressing me at times to give just a little bit more. In several moments I found myself in the throes of my closet holding something I love, facing the question to keep or give – remembering that army behind me pushed me to open my hand with extravagance over mediocrity.

So thank you. Thank you for being a part of this challenge. Thank you to each of you who asked questions, shared stories and sent encouraging words. I am not always the quickest when it comes to processing, so there very well could be more shared reflections to come (and quite possibly some more pictures and/or a video! Eek!). Please, please, please, keep sharing your stories and pictures with me, it makes my heart sing.

So much love. My heart is full.

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March Against Excess: Day #Uggs

One of my residents complained that her feet were cold this morning and because it seems I now fancy myself the poor version of Oprah (“You get a sweater! You get a necklace! You get some boots!”) I ran down to my car and brought her back the pair of Uggs that I’d begged for, for Christmas a few years back (and wore roughly 4 times).

She responded by saying, “Oooo, my granddaughter has some of these! I never thought I would. I really am the cool-hippest now!”

Sister, with lingo like that, you already were.

I was so delighted that this panic went through my head: This is so much fun, it almost feels selfish. Wait, I am trying to rid myself of selfishness. Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Are you participating in #MarchAgainstExcess? Please-oh-please tell me about it on Facebook, Twitter, in the comment section, wherever! Every story takes me to that kid-cracked-out-on-Halloween-candy place. It’s kind of embarrassing if I’m being honest:)

 

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March Against Excess: Day #6

Wow. Just wow. The last week has proven to be just nutty. What started as my own personal conviction has taken a turn for crazy and has left me in tears on more than one occasion. I am incredibly humbled, amazed and inspired by the people around me. In the last 7 days this challenge seems to have snowballed and taken on a life of its own.

I am blown away by how many of you have shared this idea with others, as well as jumped in with the desire to give. I am moved beyond words. I feel like a wide-eyed kid, in complete awe by the support and partnership that has been offered. It’s absolutely made this experience not only more meaningful, but way more fun.

As I mentioned in my last post I decided to tweak the project a bit so that I am consistently giving things away this month, not waiting until the end to make one big donation. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, I want giving to be a habit. It’s been hard…really hard at times, in the last few days I have really been made privy to how selfish I am – but it’s also been so dang amazing.

Yesterday I was able to pick out a pair of combat boots to give to the daughter of one of my residents who has been moved from house to house, raised in the foster care system. Today I passed along a jacket and pair of slippers to Mary, the woman that cleans my office every day and brings me leftover food from home that she makes to feed her (giant!) family. Monday night I met a woman named Viv that works at a local organization who was not only thrilled to hear I had household items to give, but she decided that she wanted to join the March Against Excess too!

I keep metaphorically pinching myself to remember that this is real. That people have the ability to amaze you with their goodness and grace. And that sometimes when you open your hand what you are given in return is far, far greater than anything you could ever give.

Please, keep sharing! Don’t stop telling your stories of how you are Marching Against Excess and let’s all help heal one another with love and generosity.

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March Against Excess Day #-1

Okokok, I sorta cheated. I started this project a day early. But before you go thinking it’s because I am just so super generous that I couldn’t help myself, let me be real with you; I DID NOT WANT TO.

It’s pouring BUCKETS here in L.A. right now and as everyone knows, NOBODY in this town is rain-equipped. I mean, you could be Scrooge McDuck, taking dips in your money bin, eating giants feasts every night, living in the lap of luxury, but even with all that money, you know what you’d still be missing? Any sense (or ability to drive) when the cloud start spewing. I truly believe that rain is the great equalizer here in the City of Angels.

Don’t get me wrong, I count myself 100% guilty of the above, but the one thing I do have is rain boots…two pair in fact. WHY? Because I tend think I am Noah and buy clothing in pairs so in the event they go extinct I am prepared.

Anyway, I currently have a pair on my feet, but recently decided I’d sell the other pair that have never been worn…cause not even my fashion sense is bad enough to wear rain boots when it’s not raining, I have some standards (albeit limited).  So today I sat in my office talking to the annoying wench in my head for about 2 hours before I decided that yes, these boots were not meant to be sold, they needed to be given away. To keep these oh-so-adorable boots warm and dry in here while someone outside had soggy wet feet would make me not only extremely selfish, but a fraud. I can’t very well attempt to lead this charge of giving ’til it hurts, while hoarding my excess.

So I did it. And it holy crap, it was hard.

I had such a bad attitude and was so judgmental. I debated even writing this because I am so disappointed in myself.

“She says these will fit her, but I bet they won’t, she’s lying,” I thought to myself.

“What if she just sells them? I could make really good money on them and it’s not like I make a lot here. I deserve that money.”

Oh my gosh.

The hardest part about hearing my own voice say these things is that I would be ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED AND APPALLED if I heard you say them. I’d lose my sh**, fly off the handle, tell you, you were part of the problem and I’d do it with such self-righteous indignation you could butter bread with it. (What? What does that mean?)

I think it’s safe to say I have a looong way to go. Lord, help me.

So it looks like my original plans might need to be tweaked. I’d previously intended to give away everything at the end of the month in one big swoop, but I am starting to rethink that strategy. Perhaps I need to make a conscious effort to physically hand my belongings to their benefactors daily or something of that sort. I’m all ears if any of you have any ideas.

(Insert loud audible sigh.)

Lastly, I am beyond thankful and thrilled at the number of people that have already written and committed to March Against Excess. I believe in the power (and safety and accountability) in numbers. If any of you feel so inclined I’d love, love, love to share some of YOUR stories on here as we join hands and give together. Let me know if you’d be interested and we will set something up.

I’m already exhausted, but man, I am also really, really excited. I want to be different. I want to be better.

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March Against Excess.

Can I be real here for a second?

Of course I can, this is my blog, so you can’t really stop me.  Although you can stop reading, so feel free to… okay no, please don’t.

Anyway, a couple of months ago things in my brain started to get a little weird. A stirring started in my head and my heart that began to get me a bit angsty (I realize this is not a word, but I like so it stays). I started to really wrestle with the notion that I go to work every day with people who have very little, claiming that I love them and want to be a part of their lives, I call them brothers and sisters…and then at the end of the day I drive home to Santa Monica and enjoy luxuries, both physical and mental (ie; the fact that I can write this blog from the vantage point of privilege), that are unheard of in most parts of the world- including the place just outside of the doors where I’m sitting as I write.

I am not comfortable with this picture.

I recently started reading a book by Jen Hatmaker, an author that has quickly become my imaginary best friend. (Full disclosure; I wrote her a letter, but have yet to send it because it reminded me too much of the fan letter I wrote to Justin Timberlake when I was 16, that he NEVER responded to – one can only take so much rejection and humility.) In her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess she rather poignantly addresses very similar sentiments as she describes her own mental and physical war with stuff. It’s inspired and convicted me, while also leaving me breathing a sigh of relief that, at least, I am not alone in these feelings.

I described what I was feeling to someone who replied with, “But you already work with the poor, isn’t that enough?”

“It’s not.” I replied, “Love is sacrificial and I don’t know that I am really sacrificing much – at the end of the day I am still getting paid to be here. I love my job and the people I work with, but it’s still my job, I want to give my life.”

So that’s my plan. I’m not sure what this looks like for my long term  future, I mean really have no clue. But here is where I am starting: I don’t have a lot of money per se, but I do have a lot of stuff…err, rather I have a lot of clothes. I have very few ratty pieces left because of a recent move/purge, which means I have closets of decent clothes, some even brand new, that I don’t wear. I have many articles that I see and think ‘I will wear this again (or eventually), even if it’s not in the rotation now,’ which may in fact be true, but that angsty voice I mentioned above? Yeah, she keeps telling me that maybe instead of saving it for the one time this year I will wear it, perhaps I should give it to someone who needs it.

What does this mean, you ask? Somewhat akin to what my new BFF Jen did and documented in her book, for the month of March I plan to pull out 3 things per day to give away – whether that be clothes, shoes, blankets, whatever I feel led to and at the end of the month figure out a way to give them away…not donate them the Goodwill or any other thrift shop, but find a place where people can receive them for free. (Read: Donating things to the Goodwill is not a bad thing, but I want to give them to people who don’t have the ability to shop at all.)

I am going to be truthful and tell you I am not overly excited about this, but I just can’t not do it. I need to do it. I am being called to do it. I don’t have 93 things I want to give away. I don’t own things I wish I didn’t. But I don’t want to live a life that says one thing with my mouth and even parts of my life, but fails to follow suit in the rest of it.

And here’s where you come in. (WARNING: stop reading now if you don’t want to have to say yes or no to me OR JESUS. I am totally kidding – how was that for spiritual manipulation?)

I want you to join me. It doesn’t need to look the exact same, I chose this number per day because it’s a lot for me and if I simply said I was going to donate ‘some stuff,’ it wouldn’t be so much of a sacrifice, and I could rationalize keeping things that I am being called to give away.

(And it’s not just about clothes. People need bedding, kitchen items, and other household stuff that we often take for granted. So while you may not have a closet that’s packed, I’d challenge you to look to other closets and cabinets.)

I believe that most of us westerners (if not all) are living in excess. I don’t say this in judgment and I promise that if you don’t feel led to do this with me, I will not judge you a single iota – but I do believe that we all have a role to play in caring for our brothers in sisters who are in need and I do believe in tangible grace and so maybe, just maybe your heart is being tugged at to do this with me too.

IF this is the case, that you decide to join me in one way or another, let me know. I’d love to metaphorically join hands and pray over this together, as well as I am open to any creative ideas as to how we can give together even if it’s just in solidarity, cause ya know, distance. (One friend of mine was brainstorming a garage sale/store of sorts, where things are itemized, but all free – can you imagine how fun that could be for recipients?! “Oh, you want a green coat, not a blue one, cool! Here’s a blue one!”)

So there we go. It’s public. My hands are shaking. I’m committed. The fear of public failure is a real one. And for me- a powerful forcing function. If you’d like to join me I’d love to hear about it. And if like me, you need the pressure of a verbal commit, please feel free to post something in the comments section or share on your favorite social channel.

This is a big personal challenge for me, but as you know, a “calling” is hard to ignore. Here’s to a March of doing better.

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The Day I Met You.

This is not a love letter. Well, maybe it is, but not of the romantic variety. This is a letter to Lucy, to Andre, to Darryl and all of the other men and women I have met who have been forced to the margins and shown me that, that is exactly where my God lives.

The Day I Met You

I still hear the voices sometimes
The ones that tell me to quiet down
Sit up straight
And act like a lady
“Ladies are quiet,” they say, “subdued”
The don’t scream at the unjust
They don’t cause a scene
And they sure as hell don’t curse
No, ladies bake
They sew
And silently pray
They enjoy love stories
And are waiting to be saved by a knight on a white steed
They are mild and meek
Made to fill both small physical and emotional spaces
“They’re not like you,” they said
“No, they are not like you.”

Those voices though, they got quieter the day I met you
You looked different than I imagined
With your fierce grace and powerful gaze you told me stories of truth
You gave me strength
You gave me courage
You gave me purpose
You told me I was more
You taught me to be brave
You told me to speak up
You gave me permission to fight

I’ve been different since that day
A little more timid than I’d like
But a little more confident too
I still hear them though
The voices
They are quieter now
Holding less authority
But they still hold the power to hurt me sometimes
With their weighted word, shaking their heads and wagging bony fingers
But they are not me
And they are not you

No you, you’re different
You’ve changed me.

 

Want to know how you can help care for the homeless people in your community? Start by checking out The Homeless Bill of Rights, read it, share it, join the movement.

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I Grew Up on Skid Row.

“I’d be in first grade,” I told my executive director. “Like, say I was born the day I started working on Skid Row, I would have gone through all these big phases; I’d have cut teeth, crawled, walked, said my first words, dressed myself and then gone off to school, carrying a lunch box and learning to play dodgeball all in the time I’ve been here. It kinda feels like I grew up on these streets, with these people.”

 “Rachel, you kinda did.

I wish I could look back on these last six years in some cool video montage, one with a cool thought-provoking soundtrack, with a little slow motion here, a contemplative look there, something to really impress the folks over at the Academy who vote for the Oscars. I’d look back and see a younger me as I nervously began this journey, so unaware of what life was about to become.  Surely there would be things I’d forgotten, maybe even prayed to forget, but there would be also be so much more. I’ve learned more in the last 3/5 of a decade than I could ever put into words, but I am going to try. Please pardon the tear splotches on the keyboard and pray they don’t short circuit my already failing Macbook as I write.

On the streets of Skid Row I’ve learned tangible grace. I’ve seen what authentic community looks like in the form of one woman caring for another as they sleep side by side on the cold sidewalk. I’ve watched as a hungry man handed a woman he didn’t know half of his sandwich and walk away, knowing his generosity would not repaid. I’ve been humbled to accept bus fare from a man who did not want to see me walk back to my office in the rain. Grace in the form of generosity is one of its most beautiful shapes.

On the streets of Skid Row I’ve also learned non-tangible grace, the kind that seems to make even less sense then it’s physical counterpart. I’ve heard stories of forgiveness that put my privileged heart to shame. I’ve seen families reunite after years of hurt and turmoil. And I have been forgiven for my own ignorance, impatience, stubbornness, fear and prejudices. I’ve been looked upon with eyes that see me in a way I often fail to see myself; with love, compassion and understanding that mimics the Father’s in a way that feels so unfair and so unmerited.

On the streets of Skid Row I have learned humility…and how prideful I am. I’ve listened to my own words and eavesdropped on my thoughts only to be appalled by the entitlement that I carry with me. I’ve been humbled by genuine love, trust and care that so many of my friends on Skid Row so freely offer, while I hold back my own, as though they are a prize to be earned and given only to the elite and well deserving.

On the streets of Skid Row I have learned to laugh. I don’t know, maybe it’s something in the water, but the people I have the pleasure of working alongside of have some of the best timing and wit of anyone I know. More often than not I seem to be the punchline, but I have learned that when you are secure and confident in the relationships you’ve made, often times a little teasing can be the most joyful way to tell someone I’ve been listening and I know you. I’ve also learned that sometimes when life sucks, the best way through it is to laugh with the ones who are walking with you.

On the streets of Skid Row I have learned how to grieve. In the six years that I have worked here my heart has been broken more times than I thought possible. I’ve heard countless stories of heartache and abuse, attempting to keep my composure while screaming inside “Why? WHY would someone do this?!” I’ve cried alongside folks in doctor’s offices as they’ve been handed what has felt like a death sentence and I’ve mourned the loss of 18 friends who have passed on. I have spent hours on my knees and even more clinging to the comforting words of my Savior; “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t always understand these words and I don’t even always trust their truth the way I should, but in those moments when the hands of grief have clutched my heart, I’ve watched God use them to remove their grip and replace them with his own gentle touch.

On the streets of Skid Row I’ve learned joy. Whereas happiness may, I’ve learned that joy does not come from circumstances — joy comes from gratitude, from forgiveness, from love. Joy comes from giving and receiving grace. Joy comes from generosity and peace. And joy can be shared, passed on from one to another by way of a smile. I’ve learned that to be the benefactor and beneficiary of joy is one of the greatest ways we can give to another person.

On the streets of Skid Row I have learned to celebrate. I have learned that there are no such thing as small victories and big victories; rather, there are big victories and bigger victories. Each step forward is one to be commemorated, whether by way of verbal praise, a high five or a piece of cake. Often we are so bogged down and distracted or worse threatened by another’s success that we deny one another praise and encouragement. In the last six years I have learned that one person’s success does not have to be the demise of another’s, when we do it right, one person’s milestone is everyone’s milestone. I’ve learned life is not the competition I once thought it was.

On the streets of Skid Row I’ve learned gratitude. I’ve always strived to do this job with an open hand, believing that it could be taken from me at any time or I may be called away to something different, but today is not that day. No, today is the day I will continue to play the montage through my mind, with gratitude in my heart, knowing I still have so much to learn and that there’s still some empty reel space yet to be filled. And I am thankful for that.

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Living in the Tension and Getting Up.

Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.
–Brian Andreas

A couple of years ago I met a guy. His name is T.J.. At the risk of full disclosure and possibly confirming your suspicions that I really am a b****, I’ve got to confess, I 113% did not want to be friends with him. You see, T.J. is cool; girls dig him, guys look up to him and well, he wears a leather jacket. Plus he’s a musician and when you spend enough years at a Christian college that attribute usually conjures images of guys sitting in the quad singing worship music superficially to woo the passing ladies. Barf. He was clearly not company I’d want to keep – I am tottttally above that, am I right?

Well no, actually I wasn’t right. When we finally officially met, it took about  3 minutes for me to make fun of him and roughly 3.15 minutes for him to quickly retorted with something far more witty…I was sold in an instant and concluded that perhaps he wasn’t as shabby as I’d previously thought.

I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t judge a book by it’s handsome, way-cooler-than-me cover.

Fast forward a couple years and he still remains a friend that I consider myself quite lucky to have. He’s one of the more honest people I know, is not afraid to be authentic, strives to defend the underdog, is pretty smart (for a boy) and well, like I said, is just kinda cool.

Last week, T.J. released a lyric video for his new song “Get Up.” I assumed before I watched it that I’d like it, as I have not been disappointed by his music yet (in fact, quite the opposite – I have embarrassingly teetered the line to becoming a groupie), but I did not anticipate how badly I needed to hear it…I needed an anthem to fight, something to remind me why I get up in the morning and that by the grace of God, I have a purpose on this battlefield.

This song is not necessarily pretty, I mean, it sounds rad and could easily get stuck in your head for days on end, but the raw words and images can be difficult to watch and I’m certain offensive to some, if taken only at face value. I would argue however, that they are also some of the most relatable lyrics I have heard to date. They invoked an emotional response, a call to action and a reminder that no battle is fought in vain. As T.J. poignantly states here, we all have something calling us to battle, whether it be social change, to keep a relationship from collapsing, the battle to get through med school, to kick that addiction or even fighting the demon of depression, it’s all real and it’s all worth grabbing a pair of boxing gloves for.

After watching the video T.J. and I spoke. We caught up, sharing of simultaneous recent heartache, both of which we deducted have led to the same vacillating place; the one that creates a tension between wanting to scream and flip the world the finger in a fight for what is good and just, while also longing to curl up in a ball and cry and let the rest of the world partake in the bloodshed on its’ own. “I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive,” he told me, “you can do both.”

And this is what I am learning, that perhaps living in the tension is not such a terrible thing after all. There is a certain give and take in life that homogenizes beauty and despair, anger and joy, pain and healing, showing us that we are called to fight, but sometimes it’s okay to cry and shake a little while you hold your sword and other times, it’s okay to simply just lay it down and turn on Netflix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aCc6fOCEcw

Want to know how you can help care for the homeless people in your community? Start by checking out The Homeless Bill of Rights, read it, share it, join the movement.

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Homeless Bill of Rights; Join the Movement

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

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THE HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS:
1. Right to move freely, rest, sleep, & pray and be protected in public spaces without discrimination.
2. Right to occupy a legally parked vehicle.
3. Right to share food and eat in public.
4. Right to legal counsel if being prosecuted.
5. Right to 24-hour access to “hygiene facilities.”
6. Require judges to consider necessity defense in homeless related cases.

Why I stand behind the Homeless Bill of Rights (and believe you should too):

Because it should never be illegal to survive, nor should we as tax payers pay to criminalize someone for getting by. Until we have enough resources to eradicate homelessness all together, it’s vital we treat each person as a human being and offer homeless persons the amenities that we would demand for ourselves. Let’s band together to make change happen.

Learn more and join the movement HERE.

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