Posted by: Kerry Spencer | November 9, 2008

Nobody’s perfect // Nobody’s worthless

I just had yet another dinner downstairs with our residents.  Hot dogs, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes.  I skipped the sauerkraut.  I only like the stuff in Germany.  But that’s not why I write.  I write because I just had yet another moment of taking in the dinner scene, smiling, and thinking to myself, “Could there be a more interesting group of guys to live with?”  And by “interesting” I don’t mean weird, intolerable, or obnoxious, as the word is sometimes used. 


In case you’ve not heard, I live in a homeless shelter.  But this is not just your run-of-the-mill homeless shelter.  Virtually all the residents here have a history of mental illness and drug and/or alcohol abuse.  Most, if not all, are also formerly homeless.  At first glance, these guys might not seem to be the ideal living companions.  Ideal?  Maybe not.  But I would describe most of the guys here as fun, honest, winsome, entertaining, and harmless. 


This might surprise you.  It surprises me when I think of my initial worries about moving into this situation.  Why is it surprising?  Stereotypes.  Homeless people, drug addicts, and mental patients are not supposed to be good neighbors.  That’s what the stereotypes would tell us.  But the fact is, every human being is created in the image of God.  Therefore, there are indelible qualities of the divine in each of us.  Another fact is that every human being is a sinner.  Therefore, there are also qualities of wickedness in each of us.  So no matter what label we attach to a person, we will find some good and some bad in them.  Nobody’s perfect.  Nobody’s worthless.


Regardless of this, my experience tells me that I live with a great group of guys.  I genuinely love and enjoy them as neighbors.  I’m thankful for them.  And I’m thankful that stereotypes are not always true.

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