Seeking empathy

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A few weeks ago I took this photo, an example of why I do what I do.* I walked away and forgot about it.

This morning I’m surrounded by cheerful people enjoying a free breakfast at a fancy hotel. I’m well aware that a few blocks north homeless Aborigines, more often known as First Nation, are homeless just as people in my home town. They beg for some change or a cigarette, and sometimes they can be quite nasty.

Would you or I be any different in their shoes? I think I might lose my happy demeanor, that simple kindness, or a casual smile after being ignored every day and every night. I wouldn’t feel the need to respect those who look down on me constantly. I wouldn’t say much after waking up in the protection of a doorway, the pain of sleeping on concrete, the fear of what might come while trying to catch a few Zs, or the chill of winter seeping into my bones barely protected by a thin blanket and pillow. I might even abandon those small graces the next morning out of frustration.

No matter where we live, people are homeless, hurting, hungry, unseen, and unforgiven. It makes me wonder what little I can do to reverse the constant struggle people face from snap judgments and a lack of empathy for each unique circumstance we face.

I don’t have answers. I’d welcome your suggestions in the comments below!

(*I, Haley, work at the local Salvation Army. I write stories for the website, update social media, plan events, organize volunteers, and thank donors regularly. I also cover the front office during lunches or vacations and interact directly with people seeking our services or recommendations to other organizations that can help. I’m blessed to be able to see each program we offer and meet the people we help, and also those who we can’t help. Each person generously shares a little perspective with me as I am humbled occasionally from my privileged point of view. God’s still working on me.)

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We are Haley and James Earley, a family of two established on October 11, 2014 in our hometown of Rochester, MN and now living in St. Paul, MN. We are dog-lovers, coffee addicts, tree-huggers, balance-seekers, community-livers, and new foster parents. We live in a house of three adults, three dogs, and our sweet foster kiddos. We desire to slow down in this fast-paced world in order to pursue intentional community as we seek after the heart of God. We're just one couple trying to figure out this whole living life thing.

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