My journal entry this morning reflected my exhaustion and overwhelm. I went to Bible Gateway and the verse was nearly a copy of what He had already said:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Today was the monthy iDignity event. One of the issues with the homeless is that as they lose their homes, often they put their most important stuff in storage. When they can't pay for the storage they lose all of their identification. Without those papers it's hard to get a job or any help from social services. My disabled friend's driver's license has been expired for over a year so she can't even do her own banking and had a hard time flying to her dad's funeral because security almost wouldn't let her on the plane. With her limited income, the $50 it takes to renew her license was over a quarter of her disposable income in a month. iDignity can get it renewed for her at no monetary cost, but it was a long and taxing day.
They told us to show up between 9 and 10 and we were there until almost 2. In the process, the birth certificate she thought she had brought with her had disappeared from her purse and she was in tears, demanding to go home. We hung in long enough to order a new birth certificate and get some other business done, but we can't get a new license until she gets the birth certificate. We even tried to renew her license online, but since it had been expired over a year, there was nothing we could do. Another casualty to the digital divide.
I didn't realize how traumatic this could be for her. There's no way she could have made it through that alone and I wonder how often the burecratic process is just beyond the capacity of those it's made to serve. It looks like it may be pretty often. Frankly, what iDignity does is great and it's a wonder they can do it at all. It's a lot of volunteers going through mountains of paperwork. Restoring a person's identity is daunting under good circumstances. For someone who is homeless or disabled, it's unbelievable. Doing it without a friend would have been impossible.
I can't help "the homeless" or "the disabled" in my city. I can help my friend, together with the others that have come to her aid. She is an encouragement to me too--sometimes just for hanging in there when she's tired and beyond her limits. We Christians often talk about loving the poor and down out as a general principle--usually by sending money for someone else to do the dirty work. It's a lot more comfortable that way. I didn't need a lot of money, just the time and patience to do paperwork--which isn't that hard. I didn't help a whole bunch of people, just one. She's going to need help for a long time, just like every other person in that line, and many more who couldn't handle that line. One veteran just ended up leaving without even getting a number--he was off to get a beer, and it was hard to blame him. I watched my friend try to encourage him to both stick around and seek God--to no avail.
We did make it through and He did uphold us with His righteous right hand. He even gave us a lead on getting a new driver for Celebrate Recovery to pick up people from the homeless shelter. It was a good day and I love how He works.