The Quest to End Homelessness Part 7

The Game of Life

When I was a child my family used to play a game called Life.  It was great fun and was family time well spent.  However, as I have grown older I have learned to despise the message of that game.  The underlying message is that the purpose of life is to have the most money.  In the game that is who the winners are.  That is not a message that is good for society and definitely not for my descendants.  Instead let us develop the game of life to see how real life actually looks.

How do you define the purpose of life?  How do you communicate that to others?

    At some point in every life there are difficult moments.  Those moments might look like losing a job or a spouse.  It might look like an injury or a rejection.  Difficult moments come to all of mankind regardless of race, nationality, religion or any other man made divisional label that we place on people.  People of wealth and people of poverty all face difficult times.

    Disappointment comes to all people, dreams that seemed to be on verge of coming true die an untimely death.  Many days I work on a project and I wonder, “Why does this have to be so difficult?”  You are going to have good days and bad days.  None of these will define your purpose.

Take a moment and think about what you would do if life started to unwind.  Who would you turn to?  What are your likely feelings?  What is your next move? 

     It is much easier to think through an emergency plan when you are not in the midst of an emergency situation.  Take some time to brainstorm some thoughts and ideas on disasters that might take place in your life.  I realize that this is an uncomfortable exercise but should anything happen you will thank me later.  Additional note:  Don’t strive to make these things self fulfilling prophesies.  Our goal is to develop plans and structures to help you should an emergency arise.  I also recommend writing out this emergency plan since if it should arise you won’t be thinking clearly.  Another advantage to writing it out is that you can quit thinking about it.

The negative road:   Imagine the worst has happened.  You have lost your job; you have an injury or an illness that causes you great anxiety.  These could be minor or more serious situations like what happened with Job in the Old Testament.  Regardless when these things take place we have a choice of what we do with it.  Some choose anger, bitterness and negativity.  When this happens things in their lives will move to the negative side. 

    “It’s not my fault,” is a common refrain coming from the negative side of life.  They are constantly looking for a scapegoat.  In severe cases this is how hate groups get their power.  Someone else must be at fault so it must be them.  The “them” changes depending on your history or who you are spending time with.  But the theme continues to be, “It’s not my fault.”

    When self pity becomes the norm in a person’s life they will often times find unemployment or at the minimum will stay in low wage jobs.  They develop a self image that blocks them from success.  Unless they make some new choices the anger will begin to create difficulty in relationships.  Families can often break apart under the strain of poverty. 

     Violence often becomes the norm whether it is acted out in domestic abuse situations or just experienced as a pleasure in the media.  The heart is slipping.  Often the violence will start against property and may even stretch out to animal abuse.  Violence gives a sense of control and this often leads to abuse. 

    Abuse is all about control.  Typically we only think of domestic violence but really there are dozens of ways to control a person and violence is only one.  Control is what the abuser is after.  The negative road never hurts only one person.  Misery loves company so they will pull down as many people as they can.  Rarely will the abuser pick on someone that is in a position to fight back. 

As the heart continues its negative direction, the poverty and fear begin to take over and crime begins to make sense.  With this mindset there is a justification. The store makes millions, what does it matter if I steal a little bit.  Many will stay in that mindset for awhile.  Most have not been trained in crime.  What they do know they have learned from television and movies.  But the thoughts are a seed and unless something happens soon crime will become an option. 

     Addiction is another powerful seed that is planted firmly in those that are living on the negative side of life.  During the Great Depression many went to the cinema to escape the dreary real life existence.  But since media is already all around us, movies no longer create the same degree of escape that they once did.  So the more impactful escape can be found in drugs, alcohol or pornography (among other addictions). 

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     Addiction is not only found in the culture of poverty but it is there that it has its most debilitating effects.  Unlike those with a strong support network, getting free from the addiction is difficult.  Without money for lawyers or high quality treatment getting free of the addiction is nearly impossible.

Combine these addictions with the seeds of a willingness to commit crimes and prison is not a far leap. 

     Life feels as if it is over.  While in prison, there is time to rethink life.  Again a choice can be made here.  The choice for bitterness, anger, blame and self pity can take the person deeper into poverty.  But they could also choose life.

The positive road:   When that disability takes place a person can choose hope, love and family.  They can reach out for faith and dream of a better life.  If you look hard enough it is easy to find the treasure in the difficult times.  Those that grab onto that small treasure will suddenly discover that their family becomes a great source of strength.  For those who had been on the negative side they can see their family restored. 

     A family that works together and lives selflessly can do wonders.  The encouragement and love that comes from that family becomes a solid base to work off of for the rest of their lives.  The family is the original safety net and has prevented many from falling to the bottom.  True love within the family can keep one from addiction and crime.  Families that learn how to speak the truth in love can be a powerful force in our world.  The seed planted there become a positive attitude that becomes reflected in the work that is being done.  With a good work attitude work opportunities prosper and a mindset of constant and never ending improvement can take over.  With a taste of improvement in all areas of life success begins to take hold.  Alongside of this success comes a desire to grow your faith and a connection to something greater than oneself.

Guard your thoughts and see if you can discover any negativity or self pity that is holding you back.  If you are choosing to help people in poverty help them to do a u turn toward a life of possibilities and hope.  That is how you win at the game of life.

Application Questions

Write out the story of your life within the context of the game of life format?  What were the best roads traveled?

Describe the worst roads traveled and lessons learned.

How can you share these life lessons with those in poverty in a way that they will hear you?