Take a Second Look!
I turned to those students from the University of Tennessee on their spring break sitting with me in my office last month and said, “OK. Everybody take a yellow post-it note and get a pen. I want you to write down the very first word that comes to your mind when I say the words, ‘Homeless person’. Don’t think too long and be honest!” Then I asked each person to place their sticky note on the board and say their word. Words like dirty, mentally ill, smelly, addict, and lazy went up on the board. Drawing a circle around those sticky notes in the shape of a person’s head helped to illustrate how we can label people from what we see on the outside without seeing the person within and hearing their story. But most of all, I hope that in sharing some of my journey the students heard me say that the first step to building a bridge with someone who is different from you is to know yourself – your history, your assumptions, your misplaced securities, your insecurities, your faith in God to help you move toward someone in love.