Jimmy-Lack of Thankfulness-Can’t Help

gratitude entitlementJimmy-Lack of Thankfulness-Can’t Help
The following story is about Jimmy (for the sake of privacy the name and specific details have been changed). Sadly Jimmy is representative of some individuals who are homeless, especially those who have an addiction. (In no way does Jimmy reflect most people that are homeless.)

Several years ago we did street ministry in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Each week for two years we would feed the homeless for two hours every Saturday. It was only one burger per person. We would give out up to 100 burgers (based upon the funds we would have that week). We would also provide clothing. But more importantly we provided hope. We provided a listening ear. We provided godly counsel.

Jimmy would come to this feeding every week. He also came to many of our other outreach events. Thus he was very familiar how we did things. One day Jimmy came right after the feeding was over. He demanded us (take not demanded) us to provide him a hamburger. We explained the policy that people had to come within the two hours. Jimmy became irate. So I decided to break policy and buy him a hamburger. I bought him the same hamburger we had bought everyone else for the last two years.

Jimmy took the hamburger and yelled ‘where is the cheese’. We reminded him we have never bought a hamburger with cheese, too expensive when we have limited funds each week. He then threw the burger on the ground and called me a racist. (Wrong guy to call racist. More than once I gave up my bed for a person of color to sleep on it while I slept on the floor, when guys were kicking heroin. He knew this about me.)  Jimmy’s behavior was very clearly a sign of a lack of thankfulness. It clearly was a sign of entitlement. It was a behavior he manifested many times. Truth is-there is nothing you can do most of the time for the Jimmy’s. Rarely do they change. It is the Jimmy’s that are very frustrating and make a person want to give up on trying to help the addicted and homeless. It is the Jimmy’s that can cause a person to chose to have a cold heart towards the homeless.There are plenty of Jimmy’s out there. BUT, I say BUT. The rest of the story is:

When Jimmy threw the burger on the ground it flew everywhere. At of nowhere a person we had never seen, kneeled down to the ground and started picking up the bread, burger, lettuce, and tomato, and put it all together and said, “thank you very much”. It is that stranger that makes it worth reaching out to the addicted, mentally ill, and the homeless. My angry, bitter heart turned to mush in just a few seconds.

My point. there are the Jimmy’s in the world that most likely will never change. They place the race card, they play the entitlement card, they play the victim card. They have a whole deck of cards to play. We can focus on them or the stranger that picks up a burger off the ground and says thank you. It’s our choice.

Honestly, I cannot stand the Jimmy’s. I have a disdain for them. There are some Jimmy’s among the homeless in Burien. As much as I believe that we need to respect all people as human beings, I have very little respect for the Jimmy’s and I have dealt with many of them over the years. So, what keeps me from hating the Jimmy’s and still try to show them love? One is because I am called to do it. Two, because I know many of the Jimmy’s are not in their right mind. They are mentally ill and/or they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they behave this way. It is no excuse for their behavior but explains it. I choose to not spend much time with the Jimmy’s and find the guy digging through the garbage for food and giving him a couple of burgers with cheese. How about you?

Feel free to comment.

One Response to “Jimmy-Lack of Thankfulness-Can’t Help

  • I should mention that Jimmy was under the influence of drugs at the time. When he was in his ‘normal state’ he would like be as rude but he still was a person with an attitude.

    Regardless of his attitude and behavior I still believe that he has value as a person.

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