August 15, 2011
Romans 8:1 states, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. It is a verse that I get, yet I don’t get. Meaning that I can read it, but my mind finds it hard to receive. My feelings and thoughts of ugliness, unworthiness, loser, trash, permeate my mind. Although I work years to remove this wallpaper off of the walls of my mind, at the slightest adversity it comes raging back.
Condemn means to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on, indicate strong disapproval of; to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment: to give grounds or reason for convicting or censuring: to judge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service:  Censure takes it a step further meaning severe criticism, expression of disapproval, to make a public statement of disapproval of somebody or something.
As I grow older I become more aware of my containers of thoughts. Just like boxes stored in a garage, tucked in the back corner. As you clean out you come across a box you haven’t seen in years. You open it to find memories that had been lying dormant or forgotten, yet they reappear quickly and with perfect clarity!
A box was found recently while travelling when my daughter and stopping for a break. She went in and used the restroom while I stayed in the car with our dogs. When she came back, I got out of the car for my turn and on the way passed a homeless man sitting on a bench. I smiled and said Hi to him and he responded with a nod and a smile. Upon my return, I stopped and put my hand on his shoulder (I read once that homeless people long to just be lovingly touched) and asked if he needed some food. He smiled back and said, “Well…….actually I need some cigarettes.” I said come on over to my car and I will get you some money. Now, before you begin panicking, I knew full well my adult daughter was in the car, or I wouldn’t have done it!
I asked her at the window to give me $5, but then turned and asked him how much cigarettes were, because I realized that maybe $5 wouldn’t cover it. They were $5.05, so we scrounged and came up with $10.00 in cash. Since we mostly use a debit card, we don’t carry much cash. I wanted him to not only get the cigarettes but some food also.
As I handed him the money, he was so appreciative, and went to shake my hand. I put my hand out also, but felt compelled to hug him. I spread my arms and asked if I could hug him. He wrapped his arms around me and held on for dear life! He felt frail as I felt his bony shoulders. And he smelled from not showering as he sat in the desert heat, but I didn’t care. He was a human being needed to be and feel loved.

As we separated, he said to me sheepishly, “I have been down and out for 2½ years. It has been hard, and at times I just wanted a touch from someone, yet people are so standoffish. So wanting a hug is asking the impossible. I prayed last night for a hug! Thank you!”

Oh my, the flood gates of tears opened. I got in the car and could hardly contain myself! My daughter thought he had said something mean to me as I struggled to tell her through my tears that he had prayed for a hug last night. It makes me so sad that there are SO MANY HURTING PEOPLE out there! He didn’t ask for a house, money or food. He just wanted a hug……………
My outlook on the homeless has changed completely in the last couple of and  my viewpoint was challenged. People are hurting these days, and families are finding themselves forced to live on the streets. Loss of jobs and loss of homes has hit many, many good and valuable people, yet they are treated as less than. When you pass a homeless person, do you just want to say to them, “GET A JOB!” Wouldn’t you be surprised if they responded, “I’m trying!” Do you condemn them with merely a look? Or better yet, ignore them as if they do not exist?
Often, I feel just like that homeless man sitting on a bench; Battered by injustice, accepting defeat, failing to achieve my dreams, and feeling unlovely. Although you would pass me and SEE someone completely different……inside that is what I could be feeling. It  is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

I share this story because you never do know what someone is feeling or thinking or going through. Could I suggest practicing more of mercy and grace? Just love others………More than likely they don’t need others to condemn them, they condemn themselves already.

Hugs to you……………