Okay, so I know you are probably sitting there thinking about how great of a guy Daniel is because he went 10 Days Without Human Touch and hung out with prisoners and homeless guys. So I thought I would be honest and let you know how I really felt when I went to hang out with these people.
1. The Homeless Guy I Had Lunch With
The night before I went to meet Calvin I had a nightmare. I was hanging out with a homeless guy at Chipotle, a burrito place, and he stole everything out of my wallet. I only left it on the table for a second as I threw away the trash, but evidently it was enough time for him to grab my license, credit cards, and a couple of dollars in cash. In my dream it took a while to find the guy, but we finally tracked him down to Minneapolis. He had bought a plane ticket with my credit card, and had completely stolen my identity. What hurt the most — he wasn’t sorry.
When I finally woke up this dream was playing in my head, and as it got closer and closer to lunchtime I got more and more nervous. I didn’t really think someone was going to steal my identity, but I was genuinely apprehensive about walking up to a random homeless guy and saying “do you want to go to lunch? My treat!”
2. Don: The Ex-con
I was definitely nervous picking up Don especially when he asked me to come by his house. Not only did I have no idea what he had gone to prison for, but I also knew that he lived with two other former inmates. I pictured a mugging, followed by a second mugging, followed by a murder. But after Don got in the car, and we got away from his house I felt more at ease. At least until we started talking…
As we started munching down on our salads (Don wanted to go to a salad bar for lunch) he told me that he had only been out for 5 months. Although I think I hid my reaction rather well, my mind said, “Oh crap, this guy is still in the ‘I-could-snap-and-go-back-to-prison-at-anytime’ phase!” I tried to let that roll off of my shoulders, but then Don told me about his knife that he always keeps with him in case someone attacks him. Needless to say, I kept my fork in my hand in case I needed to pull out a Zorro and sword-fight him to freedom.
How about the first night I invited a guy right in off the street to live with me. We’ll call him A, and he was what most people would call your typical homeless guy. He was socially awkward and just wanted to watch “Full Metal Jacket” a lot! I remember making us some hot Ramen Noodles that cold Sunday night in February, and we just watched the TV and he told me about his political point of view. Then we headed off to bed, and I played like I was fine, but I was scared out of my mind… TERRIFIED in fact. I even pushed the chest of drawers in front of the door to keep him from coming in while I was sleeping. People joke about sleeping with one eye open… well that night I did. But you eventually grow to love instead of fear… Now over a year later, I have two men who were homeless sleeping in my room with me! God is good and he works in love…
Of course I (and I’m sure Brian) say all of this tongue-and-cheek, but at the same time I want you to know that taking these challenges is difficult and can be very uncomfortable. In doing 10 Days Without I’m constantly breaking social norms, and so far I haven’t gotten used to it. But I really think these segments are important especially as I see God changing my heart and the way I view the world. I think I’m becoming more like him which is the goal.
So if you spend time with a homeless guy and feel a little uncomfortable — that’s okay, that’s why we are doing this. But if you make the sacrifice, you may find that your heart and your life are changed along the way!
Side note: if you’re uncomfortable, meet these people in public places. That’s what I do because there’s safety in numbers.
What things have you done in your life that have really stretched you? Stuff that may have been uncomfortable at the time, but looking back made all the difference in your life. You may comment below…