Saturday, September 18th, 2010...10:29 pm
Well this is hard.
Man, God is totally wrecking me with this Betty thing.
It’s been hard not to be cold to Betty after our repeated confrontations with her. To not let bitterness take root every time I feel like I see her act out of (what I believe to be) entitlement. And well, if I had to call it out, it is entitlement.
Monique is another lady that sleeps on the porch steps of the main church building. She urinates on herself, which leaves a lingering stench on the porch for days. I’m not sure if the incontinence has psychological or physiological roots, but she has refused to let us take her to a medical facility or shelter and asked us to leave her alone.
I realize more now that you think you can help the homeless, but in reality you don’t know how. And because they keep pushing your boundaries, asking for more food, taking away at your time, you start to build resentment toward them, and dehumanizing them in your mind, which leads to bitterness.
We asked Monique to leave. But the church is the house of prayer, she told us. We told her that we just didn’t know how to help her, and that she just couldn’t sleep on the steps. Why can’t you just leave me alone and let me sleep there? she asked. Good question. We could, theoretically, but it’s a health risk, we told her. We have people come in and out of that building all the time and it’s unacceptable that they have to smell it. Fine, I’m done with you all, nyah, she protested and she gathered her belongings and stormed off.
I felt pretty guilty, because while you know that you can’t help her, the other part of you feels like it should. And the other part of you knows that you’re making her feel bad, that she can’t help her incontinence, that she probably feels totally condemned and ashamed right now, and you should just leave her be.
Betty got into a shouting match with Rico, another homeless man in our building today while we were fixing them dinner. The two exchanged volleys and Betty demanded to call the policy while Rico asked her to leave. “I need some safety, some protection” she kept saying while Rico yelled profanities at her. We asked Rico to leave, and Betty was adamant about calling the cops because she felt threatened. So she did. And we sat around and felt like fools waiting for the cops to arrive. This is stupid, we told ourselves. We’re being held hostage in our own place.
I saw Monique get up from sleeping in the parking lot this morning. She averted her eyes and wouldn’t talk to me and made gestures to get up and leave, then moments later when my head was turned she put her bags back down. We need this lot cleared today I told her. When she wouldn’t answer, I held my gaze longer until she averted her eyes, then turn around and walk away. Why do I do this? I’m not sure. It sure is easier to do than offering her to use the restroom and cleaning up after her. It might have to do with my cognitive dissonance and fear in asking her to leave the day before then not wanting to enforce that boundary the next morning. And it could be that I enjoy feeling powerful. This is really hard.
I’m not sure what God’s doing in me through all this, but whatever it is, it’s a lot more than I expected. Lord have mercy.
Edit: it’s not all bad. I had a push-up pop afterwards and felt much better. I’m not sure if Eric can say the same.