Who do you see?
When you see someone on the street, what goes through your mind? What do you see? Who do you see? Just another beggar? Another “drain” on society? Does it repulse you? Do you turn your nose up and make sure not to make eye contact? When you see them coming do you cross the street to the other side or clutch your purse or your wallet a little tighter?
What thoughts go through your mind?
Why can't they just get a job?
Disgusting…They need a bath!
They need to lay off the drugs! Why don’t they just stop?
There’s no way I’m giving them anything! They need to help themselves. They’ll probably just buy drugs with it!
When we allow these types of thoughts to come into our thinking, what we are doing is dehumanizing someone who was made in the image of God. It also makes it easier to ignore. We no longer see someones son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother.
This past weekend our family lost a family member. A lot of people might not know that I have three sisters and one brother. Two of my sisters and my brother are from a different mother than mine but we all have the same father.
My older half sister, Loretta passed away. It was sudden and unexpected. She passed away on October 4th but we didn’t hear about it until the 20th. The morgue was so backed up that that’s how long it took to lay her to rest. Also, because of certain fractured family relationships through the years that was out of our control, we were not able to go to the funeral, which was organized by my sister’s ex husband. (This man is a whoooolllle other blog post that Imma leave out…for now.)
Loretta was 49 years old when she passed away. She was a beautiful person, inside and out. Her laugh was infectious. Because of the choices of others and not knowing how to deal with the difficulties that life had thrown at her, she did what so many precious souls do and she turned to drugs. Cocaine at first. Then heroine and meth. Prescription pills on top of that as is the case with so many who find themselves struggling with addiction.
We watched the addiction completely ravage her outward appearance like it does for so many others. There were moments where she was able to get clean here and there. Before she passed away she was working really hard to fight her way out of it. On the day she passed, she called 911, saying that she wasn’t feeling well. But after years of her heart taking so much abuse from the addiction, plus not getting an important surgery four years prior for a heart condition, her heart just gave up.
My mother was the one who told me. I started to cry when I heard the news. When my father heard the news that his daughter had passed he drove to my moms work, collapsed in her office and wept. My dad is a pretty tough guy. He’s Irish and from a whole other generation of men who didn’t deal with their emotional side very often. I think I’ve seen him cry more in the last few days than I have all of my life. Dad and Loretta had a special relationship. Sometimes they wouldn’t see each other for long periods. Partly due to her addiction and partly due to the fact that she lived out of town. But anytime they did see each other, Loretta would fall into his arms and start to cry. She knew she needed help. She needed her dad. Dad led her to the Lord years ago so she had that hope above anything else. She just wasn’t able to get free of such an ugly disease that is addiction.
Loretta was cremated so there was no physical place that we could go and pay our respects and say good bye. As a family we are still planning our own little ceremony as a way to honour her.
This is the second family member that we have lost within a little over a year. Last year in August, my oldest nephew lost his biological father, Ryan, to suicide. He had also battled addiction for many years. And now my sister is gone as well. This loss has made me angry all over again that we are losing so many people to this. These are human beings that are searching for love, acceptance, hope and healing from their scars; both physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
So, who do you see?
When you pass them by…
Just another beggar on the street?
Another “drain” on society?
I see my sister, Loretta.
I see Ryan, my childhood friend and my nephews father.
I see my own father, a recovered addict himself.
I see others close to me that I can’t name…because if I did, you probably wouldn’t look at them the same again.
I see my two boys…that I don’t see.
I ask myself, “If that was my boy, laying strung out on the street, how would I want him to be seen?”
If that was my child, would I still look away? Or would I make sure they had enough to eat that day?
When does it stop?
How many is enough?
All they’re looking for is love…His hands and His feet
…that’s you and me.