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Reflecting on The Crash
Lessons from the streets
My crash into homelessness wasn’t just from one bad decision or a single unlucky event.
Basically, for years, I made tons of bad choices. Bad financial choices, bad life choices. In just about every area I was charging full-speed ahead, in the wrong direction, in reckless pursuit of self-destruction.
The whole time I thought I was living free and having fun.
I don’t recall writing into the script of my life a scene called, “Rock Bottom.”
But there it was waiting for me: living on the streets. Ouch. Ending up homeless was a rough landing and rude awakening.
I still have the lumps to show for it.
The first thing I learned on the streets was to have gratitude that I was still alive. I realized that I was quite thankful to have even survived the crash landing into homelessness. After gratitude, the next order of business was overcoming this dilemma.
All right, I got me down here. Now to get me out.
Not an easy task, especially when you want to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” but those bootstraps keep moving out of reach no matter what you do. More troubling was that I often couldn’t even find the bootstraps at all.
I heard a sermon titled “My Destiny is Calling Me Out of the Pit.” At the time, my pit was homelessness. Climbing out of my pit happened in small increments over time. I learned to stay focused and fixated on overcoming. It was a process. It still is a process. One of my battles was tempering my depression and its first cousin, oppression. Despair and loss of self-esteem were dark, daunting, and scary.
Simply staying focused was—and is—my foremost order of business. From focus came the ability to keep going in the right direction, even in the hard times. I found that I was able to stay focused and find the grit to overcome when I put first things first. For me, first things first means the number one spot goes to Jesus.
I took an honest inventory of myself, and choose to reject the habits and deviations that would pull backwards instead of push forward.
There was the issue of my drinking.
There was the issue of who I spent time with and the influences in my life.
It has been hard work.
But I like life now. And I am having fun. Real fun.
Since I corrected the direction of my life, I have started to enjoy the benefits of having a job. I even enjoy the discipline of work!
I try to look good whenever I can. Unless I’m doing manual labor, I dress to impress. (Mostly to impress myself.)
It feels good to look in the mirror and like what I see. It feels good to like I how I spend my days. It feels good to know my friends are good for me and I am good for them.
When I feel good, I move forward more easily—reaching goals and impacting others.
— Elijah Kelly
— SPONSORED RECOMMENDATION —
Freedom Communities is a charitable organization focused on community transformation in Charlotte, NC. They take a family-centric approach, believing that “in order to transform a community, we must start with the families who live there.”
Visit Freedom Communities online to learn more about their powerful mission, discover volunteer opportunities, and become a financial partner.
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Speak Up Community Updates
Please read All About Pursuit Packs, a big update post about our “job in a box” outreach kits for people facing homelessness.
Story Request — Your Encounter With Someone Facing Homelessness
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Finally — longtime Speak Up writer and vendor Ruth has started her own publication: Ruth’s Life. She draws and shares audio updates from her daily journey. Not to be missed.
Big thanks to Forquer Law for partnering as our first sponsor!