Daniel and Disrespect

Daniel and Disrespect
The following is a story about Daniel and all the homeless Daniels (Susan, John, etc) out there. Sadly they represent a portion of the homeless. It is this group of individuals that fulfill some of the stereotypes of the homeless. It is these group of individuals that make it harder for those who fight for more assistance for the homeless. it is these type of individuals that can make it easy to get ‘burned out’ in trying to help the homeless. The good news is not all homeless are like them. You have to learn to focus on the ‘others’ if you don’t want your heart to get cold.

I found Daniel sleeping at the side of a church. The first day I ignored it because I was not in the mood to deal with it. Plus I was hoping that as he heard me pull up he would just leave on his own. The truth is he was not hurting anybody, I did not see a mess around him, no sign of drugs, and it had been a wet, cold night. At least he was not sleeping next to a business, someone’s home, or at a place that was visible. I choose to walk in mercy.

However, of course, like can be expected most of the time, he thought by me saying nothing it would be okay to do it anytime. So more than once I found him sleeping at the same spot. So, I realized that I need to speak with him. (You ask why? He is not doing nothing wrong. We will talk about that in a moment.) I introduced myself to Daniel and asked him to come into my office so we can talk. He was very respectful and got right up and came into my office. I told him I would like to help him, but I need his cooperation. I told him if he was going to sleep at the church there would be some ground rules:

  • He needed to sleep where he could not be seen
  • He would need to get up by 8am and leave
  • He needed to not leave anything behind
  • No drugs or alcohol
  • No one else to sleep at our church anywhere

Daniel agreed to all the ground rules and was very cooperative. I was actually shocked because I normally do not get the homeless in these situations as cooperative as him. I then told him the best way I could help him as a pastor is to help him get through whatever has occurred in his life and be a listening ear. I asked him his story (I normally have no problem with people sharing their stories, struggles.) He was not too open (understandable). What he did say was his wife and child died in Florida and he was running away. I told him I knew he was doing drugs but he would not talk about that (understandable).

Well, he followed the rules for about two days. He started leaving some items. I told him it was unacceptable and to work with me or he will have to be gone. Then one morning I found drug  paraphernalia (no needles or drugs). I told him that he was to be gone for a week and cannot sleep on the property until we reach an agreement. I mentioned to him, that I could get him into treatment, I could counsel him myself and dedicate time to help him, I mentioned I had a sober house he could get into if he got help. He said thanks but no thanks.

A week later I find out he and a female spent the night at the church, was caught doing drugs, they left garbage, and some drug paraphernalia (no needles or drugs). I came to church and found he and told him he totally blew it. I told him it was absolutely disrespectful and shown he is untrustworthy. I told him if I ever see him on the property again he will be trespassed. The only time I want to see him on the property is when he wants help. I told him instead of seeking a place to stay outside the church he should have come into the church for help.

My Point
Sometimes you can do all you can to help somebody and they refuse to get help (at least for the moment). They have no one to blame but themselves. As long as their drugs and lifestyle is more important to them, they will not change. They just become another statistic. To continue allowing him to stay at the church to sleep would just be enabling him. Yes, he will do it someplace else, but he absolutely will not do it on our property. One of the number one reasons why is his disrespect and showing he is untrustworthy. He cannot be trusted. No guarantee that he would not break into the church. No guarantee he would not leave needles, crack pipes, etc. He has not reached his bottom. Maybe never will.

Saying all of the above, I have seen Daniel a couple of times. We talk respectfully to each other. I want the doors open for him to know he can come to me if he ever wants help. You can set boundaries and still love the homeless, addict, or whomever they may be. The key is having thick skin and a soft heart. I will speak on that in my next post. In a latter post I will talk about ENOUGH-CONSEQUENCES

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