It’s the season of joy. A season of gratitude. And yet, for some, it is a season of question.
She was standing on the corner. The suburban wife look-a-like with the perfectly bobbed haircut. Her blouse could be seen through her coat. It was faint pink in color. A slight turn of her thin frame caught my attention. I knew her, I just didn’t know her name. She was standing there – on the corner – living life in question about herself and her tomorrows. As I drove by, I knew her thoughts. She was scared. Her thoughts were racing through her mind, mostly wondering how she could keep moving forward. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help her because she was me – a mirror image of myself once standing on that very corner. Alone. Helpless. Homeless.
Homelessness is more than a term representing those who are lost in their circumstances of life. It’s not a chronic condition or mental illness you can take medicine for in the hopes for a cure. Homelessness is a space – a place and time that either by your own choices or by unforeseen circumstances, you find yourself here. For me, I was a wife, a mother of three, gainfully employed with a career. I was thriving.
Until I wasn’t.
I was a contributing member of society with a plan to make change in my life, my family’s life and in my world.
Until I couldn’t.
My life was a challenge from the beginning with parents who didn’t believe in me. I often wondered at times if my life would have been better with someone else. Perhaps? At some point along the way, I gave up on who I was and allowed myself to fall within the walls of paralyzing doubt. I built those walls of doubts plank by plank all the way into my adult life – constantly hammering at the pain within my inner soul. Then one day, circumstances took a turn around a curve I did not see coming. No one ever wants to see themselves in these shoes for which I walk my path of life. But for many this is where we find ourselves, wondering how we can ever move forward.
For me, I know I won’t be here forever. I have help. I have those who care. But some don’t. Tonight, I will lay my head in a warm bed with a pillow I call my own. I will have a warm meal and I will wake up with hope. I will go to my job, save my money, work my program and find the resources I need to get back to a place of stability so I can plan, once again, for the tomorrow I know I will have. Through this journey, I have been given yet another hammer, but this time, this one is to begin the journey of taking out each nail of each plank I have used to build those walls of doubt. But for today, and just for a moment, I stop. I mind wanders back to the woman on the corner with the perfect suburban hair bob. My heart aches. I want to reach out. I want to show her she, too, can be where I find myself today and ask what tool I can share to help her break down her wall of doubt.
I am almost there.
I know that soon I can share with her homelessness doesn’t have to be a place of desperation, but a place to look deeply at who she is as just as I have looked at who I am and who I can be.
My Christmas wish here at the holiday season is that you do not feel sadness or sorrow for me. I ask that you feel what I feel – hope. Hope that my tomorrows will look as brightly as your today. Hope that this time next year, I will decorate my own tree in my own home with trimmings filled with memories of all who have helped and held me along the way.
God bless everyone reading my story this holiday season. I thank you. May it give you a feeling of snowy wonderment that whatever circumstances you find yourself in, you, too can find hope. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you to all who believe that the homeless are not forgotten people. We are survivors. We are believers who every day, like yourself, believe we will find our better tomorrow.
May you all spread light and love to everyone this season. Merry Christmas.
—A Resident of Jeremiah’s Place in Dahlonega, Georgia
*For more information on Jeremiah’s Place and its ministry, please visit LumpkinCountyHomeless.org.