Last week, Our Weekly readers were introduced to my experience as a “working homeless” person. I’m part of an ever-growing population of people blessed to have work, but the job or jobs don’t pay enough to sustain a proper living situation.
The article ended with me understanding that living on the street was going to be pure hell, but something I had not experienced for a while kicked in … courage.
After that first night on the street, I knew I couldn’t inadvertently fall asleep again and risk waking up to see some strange man staring at me. I had to come up with a plan. I was on my second day, and had not showered, or even brushed my teeth. I’m not a fast food person, but that was the only food I could afford on that particular day and yet gas clearly came before food. I didn’t want to contact my friends or associates because I didn’t think they’d understand. And frankly I was hurting too much to take the chance.
My vulnerability level was at an all-time high, and one disappointing comment or attitude by a friend would have surely sent me over the top.
Then something hit me like a brick … and I asked myself, “Where’s my Faith?”
Things had unraveled so fast for me that I forgot to pray. I wasn’t mad at God, I was just confused. It was too painful for me to go to church because that’s where I’d expect to see my dear friend who had just passed, and the hurt would have been too much. But I realized I couldn’t hide from God and eventually I’d have to return to my church, Arise Christian Center.
You’re probably wondering how I got in this situation in the first place. My life started going downhill after my mother’s unexpected death in October 2003. Not three months after her death my job was terminated due to budget cuts and, to add insult to injury, the IRS audited me. By January of 2004 I was a nervous wreck, and in constant pain, mentally, physically and spiritually.
People did help me get work during that time, but I was a zombie. There were times when my brain was simply too scrambled to make any sense out of life. For the next four years I made terrible career decisions based on fear, and trying to please people. My life was one hot mess, my professional reputation was in the toilet and I couldn’t pay my bills. So, what did I do? I went to church.
I joined Arise Christian Center under the leadership of Pastor Ron Taylor in the midst of all that drama, and over the next four years I reintroduced myself to God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
In March of 2008, I made a commitment to God and joined a business prayer group at Arise and began to rebuild my life.
Little did I know that over the next four years my faith would be tested and how blessed I would be in 2013.
Why? Because with each trial I had gained strength. But I won’t lie to you; it’s been a crazy journey. I liken it to a thorough cleansing. Believe it or not, my “Hallelujah Moment” came after being chased down by a man in a big red truck who decided he wanted to terrorize me by following me, putting his bright lights on me. I started asking myself why am I giving in to my circumstance? I realize this was not God’s will. The first time he succeeded in chasing me away from a secure sleeping spot in the parking lot surrounded by a number of small businesses.
After that incident my thinking became clearer. And the second time he tried to intimidate me by truck I was prepared for a showdown.
I’ll explain this in the next article, where I will go into more details about life on the street, and staying with friends and family members. Surprisingly, the homeless people I talked to preferred the street over friends and family.