With only a few minutes left in 2014, I can’t help but look back on the year and reflect upon lessons learned. This has been a year of transitions for our family: a new job, a new state, a new baby, and numerous other changes. Even in the past few weeks, my life has evolved in significant ways. As you likely know, on December 16, I started a campaign to provide emergency shelter for the homeless in Utah County. Spending time with the homeless has been transformative for me, not only in the way I interact with these individuals, but also in reshaping my life perspective. Below is a list of resolutions I am making in 2015 based upon my recent experiences.
I will listen earnestly.
I have learned so much from discussions with the homeless members of
my community. Listening to their stories has taught me to judge less and love more. Beyond challenging stereotypes I had conveniently accepted,
my interactions with the homeless have helped me realize how often I
make conclusions about others without understanding their silent battles. Several of my preconceptions about homelessness have collapsed under
the weight of a few honest conversations. In 2015, I resolve to listen
earnestly to others.
I will give freely.
Seeing the struggles of the underprivileged has made me rethink my priorities. I am now aware of the impact that a few dollars can have in the lives of those lacking basic needs. But it isn’t all about money. We can give
of ourselves in so many ways. Even a smile can change a life. Personally,
I feel the need to break from my comfortable life to the degree that it truly becomes a sacrifice. In 2015, I look forward to giving freely.
I will see the needs of others.
The day I met Darren (see earlier post), I returned home emotionally overwhelmed. My warm house became unbearable knowing that he was likely freezing on the street. That night, I went back to University Avenue where he said he had slept the night before. I drove up and down the back roads looking for him. Eventually, I gave up the search. As I began to leave for home, I thought I saw him covered by his sleeping bag on the side of an empty building. When I looked closer, I realized that it wasn’t Darren’s bag. Although I don’t advocate approaching strangers in these circumstances, that night I was able to help this man find shelter and a hot meal. Before I had the courage to talk with him, however, I watched him shiver violently in the cold for several minutes. Some things you cannot unsee. It is easier to look only superficially at others, lest we recognize a need and feel the guilt of obligation. In 2015, I resolve to have my eyes wide open.
I will seek balance.
I will be honest. Working actively with the homeless has been both time-consuming and emotionally draining. On top of my professional responsibilities, I have been spending many nights writing blog posts, placing homeless individuals in hotels, and dedicating significant mental and emotional energy to this campaign. A few days ago, my six-year-old daughter asked when I could start playing with her again. This was a wake-up call. Despite my quixotic drive to save the world today, I need to remember that tea parties, hide and seek, and story time are among my most important duties in improving the world for tomorrow. In 2015, I will seek balance in
I will find joy in doing what I can.
As mentioned in a previous post, this campaign has had its highs and lows. On numerous occasions, I have struggled with my inability to make a bigger difference in the lives of real people living on the streets in my community. This has also made it difficult for me to enjoy my daily activities. It will not be easy, but my final resolution is to find contentment in what I can do instead of disappointment in what is beyond my reach. I should be grateful for the blessing God has given me to help in even the smallest way. In 2015,
I will find joy in simply doing the best I can.
Today is the last day that my blog, The Weightier Matters, will be dedicated exclusively to homelessness. Please still consider donating to my campaign for the homeless. There remains a desperate need for ongoing support.
For that reason, I will continue to post my experiences with the homeless
on occasion, but I will also be writing about other topics throughout this
As we make a fresh start in 2015, I look forward to our continued dialogue.
Your kind words and efforts to lift the burdens of others have been inspiring. Happy New Year!
Click here to access the Food and Care Coalition donation page. Under “Donation Designation,” please select “Other: Category of Your Choice,” and then type “Emergency Shelter (Wiseman)” in the comment box. Even the smallest donations make a big difference! I also sincerely appreciate your help sharing this ongoing fundraising campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Thank you!