We met Jack in Fullerton, CA. Jack needs love and is seeking love in all the wrong places, drugs and alcohol have been his vices for many years to cope with the lack of love he has been receiving from those closest to him. He tried to get out of his bad habits and joined a sober home but didn't complete his journey and is still drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and getting high off of speed and basically anything that comes his way. We do not know his full story but we do know there is a wall of hurt that took years to build from family and loved ones, and to Jack it seems like this wall will never come down so in a way he has given up.
He has two daughters that need him desperately but he feels inadequate as a father to love and provide for them. That makes sense because he is homeless and cannot even provide for himself. That is only because he has given in to the false accusations and negative words spoken over him: "You aren't good enough" "You're not fit to be a father." "You are worthless." He has given in to these negative thoughts and given up on the life he could live if he learned to love and to be loved. It was pretty amazing when at one point during our conversation Jack asked why we stopped to talk to him. "Out of all the people out tonight, why did you stop and talk to me?' He asked. "Because Jack we see potential in you. We see ability and love that you need to receive in order to give it back. We told him we cannot tell him how to live his life, but we told him that his daughters need him, especially now during their childhood, they need him. They need a father figure, they need manly love only a father can give other wise they are going to seek that love else where eventually, from other boys or obsession over self image or maybe even drugs or alcohol. We told him that the only way he can change is if he wants it, if he is serious enough to be the person he has always wanted, more importantly the person God wants him to be.
Jack knew a little bit of scripture but some where down the line of life he lost grip on who God is to him and didn't make God a priority. We told him that was another reason we stopped to talk to him, because that is what Jesus would have done. Jesus made friends with the lowly people of the earth, prostitutes, tax collectors, murderers, lepers. Jesus talked to and spoke life into those who were forgotten and outcast and looked down on. We wanted Jack to know that he has tremendous worth and that there are at least two people in the world that can see that, even if he cannot see it in himself.
We asked him why he won't return to his family and take back his old life. "I'm afraid. I'm afraid I won't be able to, I'm afraid my girls won't love me. I'm afraid I will fail." Sounds like all of us when faced with a huge decision that involves sacrifice. "I'm afraid." We are all afraid, but fear is only a small obstacle in our wide world called life. We just have to discover how to get around, through or over that fear, how to conquer it. For JAck we said his first step is to seek a life of sobriety on a daily basis. For him to seek his best so that others would see that and give him the opportunity to have the life he desires because they see the sacrifices he is making.
He grabbed his phone at one point and pulled up a message from the local church and it was a devotional that fit perfectly with what we were talking about with him. That no matter what season we are in, we should always seek to give it to God and to give Him the glory. It was like we grabbed the bible and flipped to the perfect verse, You know how that happens sometimes? At the end of our conversation we prayed with Jack, and even though he was ambiguous with his beliefs and vague with certain parts of his life he still was open to our prayer. We grabbed hands and Jack closed his eyes and bowed his head. Rachel began to pray and Jack seemed tense. But then the words coming out of Rachel's mouth began to work in Jack and he squeezed our hands tighter and he lifted them up periodically. At one point he pressed our hands against his forehead to get as close as he could. It was truly amazing to see the power of God working in a man so lost and so in need of just simple conversation and powerful prayer.
We left him with wrenched hearts and with smiles on our face, but he did not want us to leave with out offering us anything. He felt obligated to give us something for taking the time to simply talk with him. He rummaged through his duffel bag but eventually he reached into his wallet and grabbed five dollars as an offering for us talking and praying with him. Our response was no thank you Jack, you have given us more than any amount of money could.
This is what Days of Difference is all about, adding value. In this circumstance we added value by engaging in an intriguing conversation with a man in desperate need of a listening ear. We could tell this was the first time in a long time he felt loved, and he did not know what to do afterwards, so much so that he offered us money... What? Sorry Jack you do not have to pay us for talking to you, if anything we should pay you for this amazing opportunity.
We learned from Jack that it is never too late to start again. He has tried to get sober and to win back his life before but he could not do it because he did not think he could. We hope we inspired him to try again and to know he is not alone in battle for worth in life. Each of us have opportunities like Jack and like Rachel and I and everyone, to start again and continue to dream and never lose sight of our true selves. It is amazing what happens when a person takes their focus off of themselves and onto others. Opportunities present themselves when before they were hidden behind our own pride and self interests. When we continue to look to God for guidance and value the needs of others over our own we can begin to experience a more fulfilling and joy filled life. Sure not every day is going to be a walk in the park but as long as we continue to reach up and grab God's hand we can walk through any park.
God bless you all and please pray for Jack!