Posted by: Matt Norton | January 16, 2009

A Day in the Life

I have a friend in the Day Shelter named Jack who is the most consistent companion to Sojourn, the church Kerry, Lindsey and I attend. He may be the person that I know the best of all my friends in the Day Shelter. We have been able to talk quite a bit on our 30-minute walks to and from church each week. He is a guy recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, but even after 28 years of drinking and drugging he still has a great love for life and all those around him. He is a huge encouragement to me especially on days when no one else seems to care for anything or anyone. Recently, he has expressed his increasing feelings of despair and discontentedness with his homeless situation. Today, I was able to get a closer glimpse into the ins and outs of his life, as one of many thousands of homeless here in Louisville.

Jack invited me to go lift weights with him, a lost favorite past time of his and he ended up showing me more truly what a day in the life of the homeless can look and feel like. We met up after I finished in the Day Shelter and went a few blocks down to a free gym, sponsored by a church. We lifted some weights but as we did he told me how great it felt to be doing something again. It was his first time lifting since he had become homeless. He would say things like, “man this feels good. It’s so nice to do something to get my mind off of my situation”. He commented on how much weight he had gained since becoming homeless. He said that oftentimes it’s much easier to eat in order to get his mind off of things, and there always seems to be free food somewhere. When we finished up we both agreed that our bodies felt better after having done something physically demanding and that a meal might be nice. Jack and I left the gym and started to walk in search of dinner. I was in no rush. I wasn’t terribly hungry. I was enjoy walking downtown and plus I had a good friend with me. After about a mile and a half into our walk Jack was apologizing that we hadn’t found someplace quickly. I told him that it made no difference to me. I was enjoying myself. He kindly responded something like this. “Yeah, I can understand how this is fun for you. It’s not a daily ritual.” He then told me how he and his friend had earlier that year spent nights in an abandoned house on 24th street. He said that they would then make the 30 block trek to Jeff street and then do it again to return to their abandoned house. Although, I know the homeless tend to walk quite a bit, it had never struck me like it did today. Jack told me he walks so much that his left ankle has started to swell regularly. Finally, we decided to hop on a bus and head to restaurant central.

Over a delicious dinner at #1 Asian buffet we talked about Jack’s homeless situation. In between bites of chicken on a stick and fried rice he told me about where he may go from here. He said he has hope and he knows that God is transforming him and humbling him through this time. God continues to reveal his sin to him and how his old drinking habits need to go if he wants to serve God and turn his life around. He told me about what his family thinks; they continue to love him but he said he wants to get out of this on his own. He humbly opened up his heart about all he and others go through and showed me how richly I am blessed. Before we parted we had to bare the cold again.

It was 24 degrees, which is bearable for a while, but as Jack commented multiple times, once you are in it for a many hours every day it sinks to the bone and won’t leave. We stood outside Jeff Street for 20 minutes chatting and the whole time my feet were numb. I had thoughts of the nice warm apartment to which I was headed and the comfy bed in which I would sleep. The whole time I knew that Jack was headed to McDonald’s to warm up and then the shelter to stand in line for a bed. He would not be allowed to lie down for hours and most definitely would have no peace and quiet. The toils that he goes through daily are enough to shake me and praise God for everything I have. They also cause my heart to soften and take into consideration how ungrateful I am for my life and realize how little I love and serve others.

If you’ve made it this far I thank you for reading my story. I now ask you to continue to be in prayer for Jack. Pray that he may grow closer to the Lord and that he may soon be able to get on his feet again. Please also pray for all the homeless that they may be encouraged in their lives. Pray that they realize their need for God and their need for love. I encourage you to come along side those who are hurt and broken in this world and love them. There is much suffering in the world and each of us can be one more person to support them in their rough times.

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