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  • Writer's pictureStaci Sweet

Homelessness Chronicles: Fighting the Need to be Outdoors

While reading an article in The Guardian entitled, ‘Bussed Out: How America Moves Its Homeless’, I saw a mindset that some of you may be struggling with. It spoke of a man who moved from Indianapolis to San Francisco, only to become homeless. While there, he was offered a one-way ticket by a homeless relocation service back to Indianapolis where upon his return, he found himself homeless again within a matter of months because the person who was supposed to host him had entered himself into a drug treatment program. What struck me about this young man was when he told the interviewer that ‘…he was overtaken by a sense of claustrophobia’, and that he felt that he could breathe better outside. Immediately, I knew this man was under a spiritual attack because it reminded me of the man at the tombs in Mark 5:2, 3, which says, ‘and when [Jesus] had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him…a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs.’ Interestingly enough, the tombs or the cemetery is a public place – outdoors. Perhaps this unsheltered man was convinced that he too was claustrophobic which resulted in him living outside.

I understand that way of thinking totally because back in 2005, I was living with a friend and was on the verge of homelessness again, when I felt the urge to go walking every morning at 4am. Mind you, this was not a good neighborhood and I, a black female, walked alone. That urge was me convincing myself I had to go outside. That was because of the chronic homelessness mentality I‘d struggled with for over 18 years. My son also struggled with it up until recently because he used to feel the need to go outside, to go walking, and just go somewhere. Though it’s easy to excuse it to being tired of being indoors, when you’ve struggled with homelessness the majority of your adult life, it’s a mindset that wants to keep you outdoors; away from shelter.

Perhaps you struggle with the need to be outside and not confined. Maybe that need morphed into you living outside, on the streets, and/or in a tent. But know this: Jesus told the man who felt the need to live outdoors, “…go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” The Lord told him to ‘go home’; INSIDE, to a house or apartment and not to remain outdoors. Maybe He’s showing you compassion today, by way of this book, and telling you the same thing.

Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, please help me with the need that I have to always be outside. I've accepted it as a part of homelessness, but I know You want better for me. Lord, renew my mind to what a normal, inside existence means and thank You for forgiving me for allowing myself to get comfortable with having to live in the great outdoors. In Jesus' name.

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