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Homeless sheltered

September 21, 2010

There were a lot of new faces at the Elgin PADS shelter this morning, and one of them inadvertently pointed out something.

I get there at 5:30 and the lights come on in the sleeping area at 6. So the people that I hang out with for the first half-hour of my Tuesdays are the guys who get up early for some reason. Some of them have jobs to get to. Some of them can’t sleep very well on mats on a hard floor. Some of them want to know that they’ll get at least two cups of coffee.

One of the new faces was one of those early guys, but he’s not a morning person. Grumpy and complaining about everything all morning. In and out of the dining room, and every time he came back in, the room got tense.

He made me start looking for the happy faces I’m used to seeing on Tuesday mornings, and I realized that a lot of them were missing. Sometimes people will go out of town, or get other arrangements for one night, so you might miss someone from one week to the next. But I started to notice how many of those I actually hadn’t seen in weeks.

And then I started thinking about the people I haven’t seen because I know they got a permanent home and moved out of the shelter.

And then the new guy started complaining about how ridiculous it is that he has to hold onto his 50-cent styrofoam cup overnight so he can have coffee in the morning, ’cause the shelter only dishes out one cup per person, per night.

And it hit me: The people who get out of the homeless shelter, are not the complainers. The people who get out are the ones who smile in the mornings even though they didn’t sleep well. Who say “Good morning” back to me, even though it probably isn’t. Who appreciate the cereal that gets donated, and reason that milk only one day beyond it’s shelf date is pretty good still.

The complainers sometimes get fed up and try to leave, but – in my limited experience – they don’t leave for better circumstances, and they usually end up coming back.

Big picture, life lesson, time: Which one are you? Are you the grumpy guy? The unappreciative? The one people sigh at? Or are you the person that the rest of us look forward to? The one who smiles even though things are not ideal? Where are you headed?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2010 8:06 am

    Wow. I was just thinking this yesterday morning. I was telling my husband I USED to be the smiling one. I want to be the smiling one again. I’m making myself the smiling one again.

    I have so many blessings and so much to be thankful for not the least of which is my salvation even though I don’t deserve it. And if I’m the smiling one and if I never get down, people ask why. And they do. And then I get the opportunity to share with them the most important thing in life. My salvation.

    Thanks for reminding me I’m the smiling one. I’m cheerful and chipper. And God wants me to be that way. :)

    • Lex permalink
      September 23, 2010 10:37 am

      … and the similarities keep on rolling. This is starting to creep me out. ;)

  2. bianca permalink
    September 23, 2010 11:19 am

    Would it be totally lame to say you inspire me, Lex? Oh well, I said it anyway ;-)

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