10 Lessons I Learned From The Homeless

(Me and Jesse)

Every year, for the last 4 years, I spend one day living with the homeless. I meet wonderful people, like Jesse, every time I take my homeless journey on the streets of Kansas City. Jesse has been homeless for many many years, and lives in the Westport Area of Kansas City, Missouri. I did not get Jesse's full story, but I have learned that homeless are not always homeless by choice like some may think. Homeless are typically homeless because of crisis and/or illness.

Each year I learn valuable lessons about life that I could not learn any other way. I found myself sitting at a table, sharing a meal with people I would otherwise never be sitting next to, it rocked me. And for what ever reason this year especially rocked me in a life altering way. I have learned many lessons about life living with the homeless, but here I will share the TOP 10.

1) There is a huge difference between what I WANT and what I NEED.

There are many things I think I need, but in reality I only want them. I see this is my kids lives too.

2) God can CHANGE you only when YOU want to change.

I could do a 12 lecture series on this one topic alone, but let me just say that I have known people who have needed to change, and even had a desire to change, but until the pain of staying the same is greater then the pain of changing, people stay where they are. Even for God to change you, YOU must really really really want to change and be willing to do the necessary work to change.

3)  A relationship with JESUS is critical to living an emotionally healthy life.

It's amazing how living by the teachings of Jesus; love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc. Give you a healthy life ... it's when we violate these principles that all hell breaks loose. 

4) Never medicate stress, fear, anxiety, depression, hardships, loss, hurt, etc. with chemicals.

I believe there can be exceptions to various rules, of course if you have just endured a very difficult loss and need a "crutch" to get through, that is understandable. BUT, we must be careful because what is used as a crutch can sometimes turn into an addiction that will destroy your life, and fast!

5) Who and what we become has a lot to do with the choices we make.

nearly every choice we make takes us somewhere, we just make sure that our choices are taking us where we want to go!

6) Homeless are human beings, treat them like you would any other human being.

I recommend to look them in the eye, even if you do not have any money or food for them, and say HI. Notice them, see them ... of course use wisdom, know your surroundings, don't do this in a dark alley. But normally we all see homeless people on busy street corners. Say "hi!"

7) I care too much about what people think of me.

There were times I was embarrassed looking homeless and knowing that people viewed me as homeless. It touched on my pride. It was humbling.

8) I need to be more THANKFUL!

I take all that I have for granted way too much! I have all that I could ever need, and a lot of what I want. I live a wonderful life, and I should act like it!

9) I need to pray more for those who are in need.

Jesus said that we'd always have the poor with us in Matthew 26:11. Since this is so not only should we continue to reach out and do what we can to help the poor, but one great way to help is to pray. It's something we all can do. So let's do it.

10) I am way to self-absorbed.

This was hard for me to see in myself. I mean I think we all struggle with it on some level, but when we become aware of it, hopefully we do something about it and don't just resolve to stay stuck in your brokenness.

I hope that my words, my experience living with the homeless as seared something special on your heart, and ultimately makes you want to pursue a better life, a life of love!

Thanks for reading!