The Giving Streets

Written by Elissa Romines

A favorite spot for some of our friends

A favorite spot for some of our friends

I'd like to think I am particularly gifted and that I have some unique "calling" to be with people living on the street. Like God picked me to eradicate homelessness and crime and drug abuse. 

I want to be that girl. You know the one ... Well-versed in current social justice issues and legislation, helping homeless people with addictions to things most people only hear about on CNBC documentaries. Bussing them from tents under bridges to drug rehabilitation programs. Moving people out of homeless shelters and into single-family homes, now made affordable through employment with her unique business venture selling some trendy product that is not just environmentally conscious, but environmentally friendly.  (Is there a difference? Probably. If this girl were real she would know and I would ask her.)

Sound ridiculous? Welcome to my brain. 

But as with most ridiculous things, the origin -- the root of it all -- is a good thing. My heart genuinely aches for my friends who are homeless. We are giddy at 5 a.m. when we take someone to rehab. Our favorite place to be is sitting on a sidewalk, talking to our people about life and their families and sometimes God and sometimes nothing at all. It is music to my ears when I push a stroller down the street and hear the sound of my one year old's name coming from different directions. They wave and she waves back. These are good things. Maybe not as good as that first girl. But there's a reason for that. 

Photo by Christena Dowsett  Catching up with a dear friend.

Photo by Christena Dowsett 
Catching up with a dear friend.

The truth is, I so desperately need to be on the streets more than the streets need me to be there.

It has become my life blood. So much so that I often wonder if Jesus told us to go and really love other people because it would be the thing that saves us and keeps us. 

There are times I show up on the streets thinking maybe I'm the girl God picked to save the day, and by the time I leave, I'm wondering if I really even knew who God was the day before. We have spent car rides home from rehab in near silence, completely dumbfounded by the changes made and the courage needed to make them.

The faith of my friends on the streets is of a different kind -- the tangible kind. It is faith that the love of Jesus isn't abstract or something to be earned.  A faith that moves people out of tents and addictions and into life

These are the same streets where I wanted to be the girl who brought Jesus. Instead, I found him already there, waiting for me.

These are the giving streets.