This blog is by colleagues, Marilyn Johnson and Deborah Sherwood, from Springfield, Missouri.
By Marilyn Johnson and Deborah Sherwood
Considering what homeless children face, it’s easy to understand why they may feel unloved, hardened and hopeless. It’s also easy to see why some people misunderstand them, are afraid of them and see them as a drain on community health, safety and resources.
In a video trending on Facebook around 9 million views, teen Becca Cala tells how her mental illness led to being beaten, which led to a life of homeless-shelter-hopping and being labeled, feared and shunned. But her story can inspire anyone to look beyond the surface view of a broken and indigent individual to a more substantive and accurate view, though it may not be easy to discern.
While the Springfield News-Leader has reported on people and organizations doing good and extensive work to address the community’s struggle with childhood homelessness, it’s also noted that the number of children considered homeless is now above 800. It’s heartbreaking to read the personal stories that led to their homelessness. Many have fled their homes, choosing the streets as a safer place.
If we think deeply about the mental and physical strains and pains that this crisis inflicts on individuals and communities, we might ask ourselves: In addition to supporting organizations that contribute to solutions, how can we as citizens help address the crisis and alleviate the pains?
Becca gives us a hint: “Anyone who knows me now, I’m the happiest girl ever, because I know I’m getting the right support and help I need.”
For anyone like Becca experiencing one adversity after another, the story of Joseph in the Bible provides timeless, relevant inspiration, just as it does to those of us who have the opportunity to view their plight with more fairness and compassion. After Joseph’s many half-brothers conspired against, abused and sold him into slavery, he went on to become a trusted advisor to royalty. But his trials weren’t over. He was then betrayed, falsely accused and imprisoned, but finally freed and chosen as a powerful ruler.
Although every human agenda and circumstance was stacked against his physical and mental well-being, not to mention his prospect for success, Joseph’s faith in God as all-powerful enabled him to overcome it all. Ultimately, the people around him couldn’t help but see his innate goodness. By granting him more authority, they enabled him to save his family, as well as a community and nation, from famine and death.
What an inspiring way to view each homeless child — innately good and with the potential to do incredible things! Becca broke the perceived barriers of her circumstances in her own way, including developing and sharing her violin-playing talents. “There are things I thought I’d never be able to play, but now I can play in my sleep. Now I know how to release my energy in a healthy way, instead of getting angry all the time.”
The more we replace the stigmas and limitations of the homeless with a more spiritual view — one that is caring, hopeful and inspired — the more we’re supporting their upward path. This view can lead us to better ways to support them with safe shelter, nutritious food, devoted advocacy and purposeful opportunities. And the more we replace fear and blame with compassion, the more we can see the innate goodness and blessing of each child.
Marilyn Johnson serves the Springfield area as a practitioner of Christian Science healing, and is a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Springfield. Deborah Sherwood is a published spirituality and health writer, and the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Missouri. The original article was published in Springfield News-Ledger.