Friday, March 27, 2009

Toxic

About 2 months ago, I met a guy at the homeless shelter who seemed really nice and friendly. I could tell he wasn't quite "right," but he seemed like an overall good guy. Let's call him John. He is pretty young ... probably 40-ish. He stands out from many of the other folks there.

Three weeks ago, I noticed a significant change in his demeanor. (Not that it just happened then, I also had not seen him in a while.) He was downright toxic, especially toward another guy I had befriended who is his roommate.

Last week, I made a point of talking to him again. Maybe he was having a bad week previously? Nope, apparently this was the new John -- cynical, hateful, critical. Wow. The smart alec in me said, "Maybe he needs to adjust the meds..."

He was working the guard booth this past Wednesday. More poison spewed from his lips. He even made derogatory comments about a guy who is definitely mentally disabled. That seemed like a cheap shot.

I told him, "You know, John, I come over here and hang out because I think everyone needs to know that they are loved and have value." He rolled his eyes. "Not these people!" he said.

John will be moving to an apartment in The Woodlands soon. His disability checks have kicked in. Ultimately, he wants to get back "home" to Chicago.

I won't give up on him yet. Maybe I can find a gentle way to tell him that we're all on an even playing field. If nothing else, we need to love each other just because that's what Jesus tells us to do. Easy for me to say, though. I get to go back to my home each night...

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