Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peace and Good Tidings to Men

I learn so much from speaking with our guests. People are fascinating. The individual differences that make us unique personalities help define who we are. Once you know a person, and by that I mean know those individual differences, see that unique personality, you can no longer place them in a box or categorize them by a single circumstance.
As we look at recent "current events," the news and social media seem full of people using those current events to define their own position and outlook. However, what is missing is the individual or individuals involved. If we could look beyond a single "category," and start to see people as people, with their own mannerisms, quirks, dreams, and experiences, how much harder would it be to pass judgment? To feel anger and frustration and take out that anger and frustration on innocent, uninvolved people. People with lives and dreams and hopes, the same as us.
Visitors who tour the Mission occasionally ask what brings people to the Mission. The answer to that question would be too involved for a tweet or facebook post. I wouldn't even begin to tackle it in this blog. The truth is that there are many paths and roads that lead anyone to the Mission--guests, staff, volunteers, or even the visitor on the tour.
A "homeless" person is first of all a person. They like their coffee a certain way. Or they don't like coffee at all. They're a morning person. Or a night person. They laugh at silly cat videos even though they prefer dogs. They love babies or they feel nervous that they'll drop the tiny things. They were top in their class in college. Or they never finished high school and are working on their G.E.D. They have family that help as they can. Or they are all alone in the world. They are the same as us. They are very different. People from a variety of backgrounds, nationalities, cultures, families, and circumstances, with a single commonality: they are homeless. That commonality does not define them, any more than you can write the story of their life based on whether or not they believed in Santa as a child.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, let us look with the eyes of the Savior, born to set us free. What did Jesus see when He looked out over the faces of humanity, the many in need, crowding around Him. "Heal my son!" "Feed those who are hungry!" "Teach us how to pray." "Bless my child." We find in Matthew 9, that Jesus looked on them with compassion. He looked at a pushing mass of people and saw, just that, people. Individuals. Lives in need of compassion. In need of a Savior. And isn't that the exact reason He came? Isn't that the entire point of Christmas?
My hope for you this Christmas is the same as for me. I hope, and pray, that before I write that nasty comment on a facebook post, or become harassed with that shopping clerk, before I scold the person on the phone telling me what I don't want to hear, or become angry at a (let's admit it) infuriating family member, that I take a moment to see a person. A person who is dealing with his or her own frustrations, sadness, fear, anger, issues... And give that person the gift of kindness this Christmas. A moment of peace and joy and compassion. All those amazing things that Christmas should be about.
Merry Christmas! And may God bless you!

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