Like many experiencing homelessnes, my experience with homelessness came out of the blue and left me feeling completely helpless. I was a freshman in high school, and I found myself all alone. However, luckily for me, many different families agreed to step in where my family had failed and it changed my life.
Since then, it’s been 18 years and alot has changed in my life. However, just last week I received a phone call from one of those families that took me in as student. They were vacationing in Denver and wanted to connect to see how I was doing.
Of course, I was OVER THE MOON excited to show them how I turned out (and I’m not just referring to my DAD BOD)
So we arranged for them to come over that night for dinner to meet my wife and two kids. Well, the short version of that night is that we laughed and cried, but mostly there was just a powerful vibe in the house. It was a vibe of gratitude & joy.
It was fun introducing them to my kids and letting them see my home. Imagine, I went from staying in their home and NOW THEY were guests in MINE! The whole experience was just mind blowing, not because of what I accomplished, but because of why I was able to accomplish anything to begin with, which was because of their family who stepped up to the plate when others opted out.
And I am so glad they chose to opt in. What I learned that night over dinner was they were just as glad that they said, “yes” and opted in to housing me because they could see the impact it had on my life…
The truth is, life is more fun for those of us who OPT IN not OUT.
When we say yes, when it would be more comfortable to say no, we open up a world of new possibilities… both for ourselves and others around us.
Unfortunately for us, we don’t always get to see what becomes of our kindness. For many, it’s because of this fact that they struggle to act in kindness. It can feel like a risk. We can say, “What if I sacrifice and it’s all for nothing”? What if it is a waste of my time?
As I sat across the table from the family that had taken me in many years earlier, I could feel their collective sigh of relief to see that I turned out “okay”. After that night, I am confident that if more us could see into the future, see the difference our act of kindness would make we would not hesitate to act.
I believe that too often we are told to live for today.
However, if we do this, no real significant change will ever be accomplished. Because let’s be honest, very little sustaining change takes place over 24 hrs. But, rather transformation takes place at the crossroads of patience & hard work.
So I am not going to tell us to live for today. Instead, I want to end by encouraging you to “live today, with 18 years from now in mind.”
What would happen in your life if you continue to opt in when it would be easier to opt out? What would happen in our city, or in our nation if we learned to see other people for their potential not for their problems?
Well, I’ll tell you what I think might happen. I believe if we live this way, our differences won’t define us, our opinions won’t define us, our social status won’t define us…but instead our humanness will define us.
And that gives me HOPE!
The people who OPT IN give me HOPE!
This is one of my favorite parts of working with Family Promise of Greater Denver… I am surrounded by communities & congregations that have decided to OPT IN!
And my wish for each and every person who continues to OPT IN and take the risk of helping others, is that you will one day get a chance to sit across the table from a life that was significantly impacted for good because you recognized their need and met it.