We meet people every day who are in the worst circumstances of their life. They are, for any number of reasons, unable to provide food for their family, or buy their kids winter clothes or lunch snacks. They often have little to no income, and worry every day they might become homeless. This is their reality. To make matters worse, they must put out their hands for food and clothes from local soup kitchens and food banks. It is not a pretty time for them, and doesn’t build self confidence.
It is in this circumstance we meet them. And one of our main goals is to restore their dignity. So how do we go about this? How does one restore dignity to someone in so much pain?
It begins, as anything does, with the heart – with believing that the people we meet are no different than we are. Believing this really could happen to us too, we set out to treat them the way we would hope to be treated in that situation. Basically, we love them as we love ourselves.
Once we truly believe this – and it takes time to grow this belief – we can not help but treat them with dignity, which looks like all kinds of things:
- A genuine gladness to see them
- Seeing past their circumstances and glimpsing their potential
- Asking questions and listening to the answers
- Observing their needs and offering help
- Speaking encouragement to them
- Enjoying what we have in common
- Allowing for their faults, even abrasiveness, shyness, silence, foul odors, lying, and a million other ways that people everywhere can annoy people everywhere.
- Allowing for differences in belief, opinion, and lifestyle
- Welcoming them like a friend
How does kindness restore dignity?
People crave belonging and acceptance. It’s the driving force behind most everything we do. Most of the people we meet are in the circumstances they are in largely because they lack belonging and acceptance. This is what lurks behind many addictions, self confidence issues, and a host of other issues.
By providing this acceptance and offering a place to belong (by building relationships), we begin to restore a sense of worth, and it creates further opportunity for help and healing.
We hope, in the coming months and years, to offer more opportunities for our guests to develop connections with our volunteers and others who can speak life and truth into their lives.
Who has built into your life this way? Did their kindness and acceptance change your life? We'd love to hear about it!