22 September 2008

Do Unto Others.

Well, I can understand *just a little* about the plight of the homeless. Often there are addiction or mental health issues there as well. I know that my own son G just might fit the profile in a few years because his autism literally doesn't allow him to see clearly when someone is acting in his best interests. He doesn't "get" things and often goes on screaming, destructive rants. I could very easily see him as being homeless in ten years, and yet I couldn't see myself allowing him to live here when he can be so belligerent when he's upset.

It just hurts my heart to think about. (And I try not to, but I'm having a burst of honesty this morning.) I've known folks who were previously homeless, too, and have been able to learn how to handle finances and get a job while they were being helped by various community organizations. (Then again, despite what they might have done to their own bodies with drugs, they were neurotypical and able to "recover." Short of a miracle or a new drug, G will never be well.) It's important to note that Jesus didn't ask us to help the poor based on how "deserving" they were. While I'm going to say we need to be careful not to enable, we also need to be sure we're not using enabling as an excuse not to help someone and treat them as we'd like to be treated ourselves.

These people are somebody's children. I love G. I think G knows when he's calm and rational that what he did yesterday or last week was wrong. But he will NEVER "learn better." It's hard for people with neurotypical kids to understand. Next time he's upset, he's not going to remember what happened last week. If you remind him then, it won't work and may just serve to get him even more angry and destructive. Best to let him alone and deal with whatever consequences fall out later. He is not rational when upset. You can't argue with a crazy person. I'm not saying that to be funny. Not at all.

I know when he is older and married, his wife may call the police. I wish I could help him, but we are doing everything we can for him. Yes, fellow Christians, this includes taking him to the psychologist and getting him drugs. You have no clue how much WORSE he is without them, so critical comments on that aspect of my parenting will be immediately deleted. Have enough crap going on without being criticised as well. I just do. But anyway, I wrote what I did to say this: if there were a new drug out that we thought would help G, we'd let him try it, even if it did have some scary side effects. When you know your child would never be able to fully function in the world otherwise, you'd probably take chances as well.

So how should the homeless be helped? And what should the church's response be to their problems? This church allowed some homeless folks to live on its grounds, and the zoning people got upset. I see both sides of this issue, but I can't help but think that there ARE organizations out there -- good ones -- that deal with this issue professionally. I would rather homeless folks be referred there. They would know more about how to truly help depending on the problem. I live within two blocks of three churches and can't imagine what that would do to my neighbourhood if one of them decided to house, say, 24 homeless guys with various problems.

Please hear my heart on this. Because as a mom, I understand these guys are someone's kids. And I know that could someday be my kid, too. But I'm having trouble seeing that, if the parishoners aren't comfortable with taking these guys into their own personal homes, why the neighbourhood should have guests it didn't invite. "Do unto others" isn't just about the guy you're helping in the church, but it's also about the people who live nearby having their interests looked for. If you're not comfortable taking this guy into your house and having him live with your three-year-old, do you expect the neighbours near the church to be happy with this arrangement? They have children who play outside, too.

I don't see why the church in the story can't go through a zone change process, or go to the zoning board for special permissions. The church in the story is in an industrial neighbourhood, so perhaps it's near places the homeless folks could find jobs? That would be wonderful and everyone would win. But what little I see in the article indicates to me that everyone is digging in his heels and not thinking of the other side's arguments.

10 comments:

  1. I feel your pain in this story because I have thought of the same issues with Monkette and her irrationality at times.

    I have had a father that was homeless and can still say that I can understand why someone would not want their neighbor taking in a homeless person. Because of the addiction issues that sometimes go along with homelessness it could turn into a very bad situation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. [I couldn't see myself allowing him to live here when he can be so belligerent when he's upset...]

    I am at the same place with Marissa. She had a melt down just this morning because we were doing Bible study and she could hear Beverly's crayons on the paper. This is a young person who is telling me I am clipping her wings because I won't let her get a job. Well, here is a news flash, "There is background noise at work. It is unreasonable to expect your enviornment to be totally, 100% silent. When you are at work, shutting down and behaving badly is not an option. As long as you are acting out at home, it is unfair for me to expect an employer to deal with it at work too... and pay you for it."

    There are times I start counting the day until her 18th birthday and try to hold on to hope that she will find her own place. I am acutely aware that she is destroying the environment in our home, setting a bad example for the other children, and creating stress in my marriage. Understanding that she has a developmental problem and that her brain doesn't function like mine doesn't take away these consequences. It is hard for me to advocate for her when I am stressed, tired and angry. And, disability or not... she is way, way, way more appropriate with her peer group then she is at home.

    After my fantasy, I meander back into sanity and realize that, unless she leaves and doesn't tell me where she is or how to contact her, I will be parenting a person with developmental disability for as long as I live. I am trying to get comfortable with that thought, but... I am afraid right now the shoes don't fit very well. They are tight and I am trying to convince myself and others that they are comfortable.

    I am glad there are mothers who understand. I can say these things and not feel like a horrible failure. Oh, and Marissa is medicated too. Sadly, medication doesn't take away the icky teenage attitude... and teenage attitude (and adult size) with a developmental disability is an unpleasantness that no one really talks about.

    You are right, "Gee mom, sorry I had a rage," doesn't really cut it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mrs.C, I have an autistic nephew, now 16, who was suddenly extremely prone to bursts of rage and fits of violence right around the time he turned 13. It lasted about 2 years. The doctor said that while it could be a permanent thing, it could also very well be the hormonal changes of puberty that my nephew didn't know how to deal with as a "normal" child would. It did eventually stop. I know that I don't know G, personally but I hope you find this encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think if there's anybody who doesn't fall under the one-size-fits-all approach, it's you, Mrs. C. It's rough having a situation that is truly an exception to many "rules", speaking of what you said about your son. Hugs and pastries to you.

    I have struggled and continue to struggle with how to view the homeless situation as a believer. On one hand, I am most thankful in my own life to those people who have looked past my willful rebellion to really reach and help me. One the other hand, in Portland you have homeless people who scream at passers-by who won't give them a dollar. Kinda makes it hard to enjoy a leisurely weekend stroll downtown.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am here. I sincerely hope my oldest isn't homeless (he hasn't contacted us in over 2 years) but the reality is that he has been, may be & probably will be in the future because of his rages. I know there have been times he has slept out in the open of a park but there is nothing I can do about it. I can only pray that the grace of God keeps him safe.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I saw a homeless person when I was driving over the weekend. What a terrible life. In addition to being homeless, they guy was pushing a shopping cart full of stuff. I hope your son never becomes homeless.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I totally understand! I understand the medical issues too. Getting him medicing to help him is important too. Chaz has Aspergers so it is not like your son. But he really, really, had a bad time around your son's age. Now that he is eight, he has learned to control a lot of it and only has melt downs every now and then. I have the school give him a cup of coffee every morning to help some. It used to be so bad that Chaz had to be in a self contained classroom and he would just throw over chairs and tables, and cuss out the teachers. We don't cuss at home so it was so crazy. My friends have an autistic son they had to put in a home because he was real aggressive and he set their house on fire. I'm sorry you are going through this with your boy. That is enough to break any mom's heart. :(

    ReplyDelete
  8. LOL Virginia, you're mixing up my autistic kids. G is 13. Thankfully his violence is confined to a mattress and a housebeam, but it's frightening.

    ReplyDelete
  9. And Ganeida, I've been thinking and thinking of what to say and I just don't know what I can say that would be helpful. Your comment really brought back to light the fact that we really don't know what others are going through just looking at the surface. I'm so sorry, for him and you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. MrsC, God has His hand on my boy's life & will deal with him in a way that will bring him fully within God's will. I just don't know how or when but I can't live my life fretting over that over which I have no control. I love my boy; his presence in our house was a disaster but he chose to go. We have not disowned him. I pray he Lord brings into his life the people he needs to get the help he needs. As the hymn says, *All is well with my soul*. :)

    ReplyDelete

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)