I have been helping people for as long as I can remember.  Certainly the last few years as a street pastor has taught me a valuable lesson....things are not always what they seem to be.  What you think you know about others you don't....unless you are in a personal relationship with them.  I am not just talking about an intimate relationship here....I am talking about the kind of relationship that Jesus tried to teach us about when he was here on earth.  You only truly know someone when you build and earn trust, respect and enter into a personal relationship with that person.  You are absolutely useless when it is all just a surface relationship.  The fake it until you make it mantra is useless...you need to dive into the good, the bad and the ugly of building and keeping a personal relationship growing, where trust and respect are key....where it's not about you at all, it's about building God's Kingdom one soul at a time.

So, why this blog on relationship?  Today was another lesson day for me.

I have been building a relationship with a man that frequents the mission and often volunteers from time to time.  He has his story like the rest of us....he is a survivor of sorts.  He struggles to keep his head above water because the pains in his life often drown his sense of reasoning, where the anger and the tears flood him with emotion that keeps him drifting through life as he tries desperately to cling to anything that can afford him an opportunity to come up for air....but usually not the most appropriate choices.  He's tried hard to kick his addiction to chemicals....with marginal success, has quit smoking, but suffers from mental health issues that are more from environmental causes than his use of drugs.

He trusts me...I've worked hard to gain that trust.  The last few months have not been his best as we have seen him lose all sense of responsible reasoning  and paranoia with everything in general ramp up to an all time high.  Without giving to much away (to respect his privacy) he believes everyone is out to get him.  He trusts me enough to come and talk to me about it.

That in itself is so not unusual, as I unfortunately deal with several folks with mental health issues on a weekly basis. What is different however, is that I thought I knew everything I needed to know about him....when I knew nothing.  I talked him into going to the local mental health office together, as he is losing all sense of reasoning caused by heightened  anxiety and paranoia.  I didn't want him to have a medical crisis and crash into a mental health ward at the hospital.

As we sat waiting for a mental health intake worker to talk with us, I noticed how helpless he appeared....that he was trusting that I wasn't just going to push him off to some service and check the "done" box.  I reassured him that everything was going to be fine and that we were going to get some answers to help him.

When we met with the worker from the mental health office he was quiet....he had done this before....I mean, he has sat in front of a professional spilling out his troubles...I could see it in his eyes.  I looked at him and smiled..."Let's get you some help, ok?"  "Ok" he said, and with that he took a deep breath and began answering the worker's questions.  As he answered, he began to relax, then he became quite angry as he talked about his life.  He spoke about being abused in every way imaginable....honestly unimaginable that adults could inflict that much on children.  This seemingly tough guy began to choke back tears as he talked about being bounced from foster home to foster home...never belonging.  Then his battle with drugs...poor choices in women and activities that lead him briefly to jail.  Failed business attempts leading to homelessness. Now struggling to get back in the past 6 years in an apartment that he is convinced that others are after him every minute of the day and night.  What I thought I knew, I had no idea what he had really gone through to get to where he was now.  I have heard lots of stories...I'm not heartless, but have heard so many that I can remain objective in order to be more proficient in the helping role. Today I was humbled.  He had plenty of reasons to be angry with life.  We assume we know ....something happens...you get help...you get fixed up...you get back to life...and yes you can, but we can't ever forget that we have to heal first.

When he was finished, I gave a big hug and said I am proud of you.  The worker was shocked...she never saw anyone do that she told me afterwards.  Well, I've never done that before, but he needed to hear that right then and there.  God does that with us every day but we are to busy to notice.    

The journey back begins.  Keep SW in your prayers so that he feels God's love through others as he begins to address his issues and seek help for his mental health issues.