Learned From Being Homeless

learning from being homeless

What I Learned Being Homeless. It was the end of July a few years ago, and I finished my contract at the church. I worked until mid-July, we had a few weeks, and then we had to give up the townhouse we were leasing. The church I was working for made it very simple, it was business,” and we were left without much support from them from then on

For the next seven weeks, my family and I were homeless while I continued to do non-stop interviews. God was really good to us. We lived on the edge of truly being on the street, but we had friends offer us their homes, gift cards, and love gifts, and I had unexpected money come in from writing. We never went hungry, like so many people we know in similar situations in ministry.

It was, however, a stressful time. We had to pack everything we owned into storage pods and ship them to storage, except for what we could fit into our two cars. It was hard on my wife, and it was VERY hard on my two kids. We tried not to use the words “homeless” in front of them, but they knew. In their young hearts and minds, they tried to process. We worked hard to keep them busy and their focus off of the situation. We made the best of it. We explored our area and found cheap or free fun things to do. It was still very hard on my kids!

After sleeping on the floor of our old townhouse for two weeks and then over seven weeks staying in two friends’ houses, the in-law’s house, and five hotels, God finally opened the door to the next places, just in time. My kids had to start school, still living in a hotel room. We have pictures of them standing in front of a hotel door with their lunches. It was over, but there even to this day, remain some lingering thoughts.

My kids, now 15 and 19, still talk about it and how it has changed their perspective on many things, including others in need.

Here are a few things we learned about Homelessness, Being Homeless…

10. People immediately stereotype you. People hear the words “homeless” & assume the worst about you and that you must have done something wrong. Yes, even churches.

9. What you REALLY need can fit into two cars. When you really whittled down what you and your family need to live day to day and get by, it really is amazing how little you really, really do need.

8. Registering your kids for school is difficult. While there are laws against discrimination and protecting families in various forms of homelessness, most schools will require you to have proof of a physical, permanent home address.

7. It is hard work and almost a job in and of itself being homeless. Trying to deal with daily chores and daily living routines is much more time-consuming than you would imagine. While simultaneously trying to send out resumes, fill out applications/questionnaires, and schedule phone/skype/in-person interviews.

6. The post office process is long and complex, and they WILL lose your mail. We seriously lost 3-4 weeks of mail (checks, bills, correspondence, paperwork, and more…). We even received a check from a speaking engagement a YEAR later.

5. It is hard on your children. Sometimes, you have to work to make them feel safe and secure. Nothing was more heartbreaking than to have my daughter ask me- “please don’t put us in an orphanage or foster care…” while driving home from a 4-day long interview as a family and finding it wasn’t going to work out.

4. You will struggle with tiredness, sleepiness, and emotion as you adjust to different beds and places to sleep. It is hard to sleep some nights, not sleeping in your own bed combined with the stress and worry.

3. You will QUICKLY find out who your real friends are.   We indeed found out who the Body of Christ was during the process. Having two different friends put us up in their homes, receiving love, gifts, and TONS of prayer and encouragement.

2. It doesn’t matter your level of education, years of experience in a job, age, race, or social-economic class; anyone can find themselves quickly homeless. 20+ years of experience, undergrad and graduate level degrees, and am a writer for numerous magazines, blogs, and resources…still ended up homeless.

1. God is good
; you learn to pray, depend on Him, and live by faith.
 Those 7-8 weeks were utterly humbling but renewed experiences of understanding God, family, and faith.