On Homelessness


Or, alternatively, on being “Home Free”

I will never forget the first time I heard the term “Home Free.”  We were in the hospital, meeting our new little bit, checking in on Mom, and introducing the siblings. Bio Dad said it in passing.  How they identified their living situation, not as a political statement, just as a descriptor.

How ridiculous, I thought.  Just a fancy word for what it is- living on the street.

As in, free from mortgages and rent and an address. Free from taxes and jobs and adult responsibilities. You can laugh. I certainly did.

At least until I saw the birth certificate. Under “address” it said:

“Home Free”

No joke.

A very intentional, very deliberate, very vision oriented way they live their life.

I’ve had a handful of experiences helping in shelters serving food. A handful of times that I’ve had “care bags” in my car ready to give. I’ve been the one to hand out cash on occasion. Hot coffee if it’s ridiculously cold out. Candy if we have it.

I’ve also been the one to ignore. Look away. Pull into the lane farthest away. Lock the doors.

I think, for those of us that live in White Middle-Class America, we are missing quite a lot of perspective.

They are our “mission field” They need our help. They need food. They need a leg up. They fell on “hard times.”

Or they are to be avoided. They are dangerous. Drug Addicts. They are irresponsible burdens on our society. They waste our taxpayer money.


You know the ones. The ones that aren’t Us. 

A few months later I had the chance to just sit with her again, my friend this time.   We were talking about how she was doing. How the weather was. How much time they had before it got too cold. She wanted me to know that the hospital misunderstood her when they asked how much she smoked while she was pregnant. She wanted me to know how much she hates the “soul stealing” drugs. She was hurt beyond measure by relationships in her family. She talked about her “habit” (a legal one in the state of CO) and she talked about other people’s “habits.” I learned that you can get by on $20 a day if your habit is Marijuana. $80+ if it’s cocaine. I learned which neighborhoods she avoids. I learned that, apparently, you can ask someone  what their habit is and chances are they will tell you. She said it’s usually good to do that before you give them money. That it is a totally acceptable question to ask. She said she usually earns quite a bit more money by telling people it’s weed. (Take what you want from that). I learned that cigarettes are crazy expensive and they are rationed.

I learned that the new rules in our county on a ban on camping weren’t affecting them so much. As long as they don’t get caught “nodding” they are good to go. Her friend did- just the other day.

I learned quite a bit that day. But most importantly, I learned something that I wasn’t expecting,

She was happy.

She was so glad to see the boys. So happy to give me a glimpse into her life. To have an “outsider” listen. She didn’t want money or food or a ride anywhere. I didn’t ask- boundaries and all- but she didn’t ask either.

I don’t know what if, or how, these words will impact you today. I write them sitting in an expensive coffee shop, drinking expensive tea, typing on my expensive computer. I’ll probably go to the store and buy food even though my fridge isn’t empty. I’ll drive my expensive car that costs a ton to fill up with gas and I won’t even blink.

But I do want you to know that nothing will ever change if our perspective stays the same. This mattered to me because she is my friend. Because he is my friend. My home free friends that live by the creek in the summer.

Those small things matter. The meals. The money. The warm beds in the middle of winter.

There are individuals who ask for help and we should jump at the chance to help them.

And there are individuals that are dangerous.

But when we see them as what they are- what all of us are- a beautiful masterpiece- it stops being about us- and starts being about HIM.

Grace and Perspective. Vision and Clarity. Freedom. Unlikely friendships. I can only hope that we can live in the same very intentional, very deliberate, very vision oriented way. They have a lot to teach us. I pray that Grace shines through our conversations and time together. In our emails and pictures. In our years together.

Home Free.

I like it.


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