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Spiritual Companionship: Homelessness



This is the most challenging time of the year for me. Winter! It's not because I am cold or because of the inconvenience of snow and ice, although I am not a fan unless I am in Yellowstone. When I see homeless men and women walking about in the sub-degree temperatures, it saddens me. I do my part at times, but it never feels like enough. I don't think that anyone plans on being homeless. It's wandering about with no shelter, no safe place, a warm place, and mostly alone. No one is called to be homeless.


Home is where affection is reciprocated, and common unity is held. There is a companionship of walking together through life. We understand the depth of this companionship when our children become adults and venture out into the world. The companionship is felt, and the home notices the depth of their absences.


She said, "Companionship, I don't like that label for our work together. That word feels more related to marriage to me." "I get that," I said, "The idea comes from a narrative from the scriptures from the Emmaus Road, in Luke 24: we are not alone." The disciples were distressed following Christ's crucifixion. The reports from the women they have seen the risen Lord troubled them. Here, two disciples confided, discussing life and faith in a companionship at home with each other, if you would. The unrevealed Christ comes up alongside them, meeting with them where they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically. He starts a conversation that eventually leads the disciples to their hearts burning in intimacy with Christ and one another. It is so beautiful!


The evidence is that when we see someone homeless with no place to go and nowhere to be loved, they are alone. How terrible is this thought! There are many around us, maybe ourselves, who are experiencing homelessness differently. What do I mean? Even though I have a roof over my head, a warm place to gather doesn't mean I have found a home. A home is where I am accepted, heard, understood, and live out my life in the presence of others. There is a deep connection, an acceptance of one another with a reciprocal love of listening and speaking honestly. It's a common unity.


There are many (not all, by no means) believers who are spiritually homeless. Believers have no one to discuss the realities of their lives and faith where acceptance is not conveyed in their journey following Christ. We can be lonely in a crowded church service or even at home. We are all works in progress, with rough spots and sharp edges that need to be fleshed out with others. There seems to be a scheme in our world that desires to keep isolation as a norm, even in the church. The world will know you are Christians by your love for one another. Hmmm...Love is action.


There are many reasons for spiritual homelessness: hurt by the church, family, or others along the way. Perhaps we have shame over real-life issues in our lives, addictions, being victimized, or being misunderstood. Isolation stems from multiple reasons. I believe these two men walking with Jesus found a home between them that was cherished for a lifetime. In this story, Jesus could have appeared to the religious leaders who crucified him to prove who He was. He could have appeared to Pilate or all the people who spit on him, beat him, and mocked him. He doesn't. He appears to the two discouraged disciples. Christ walks with them in their transformation. He walks together with us as we discuss our journey with one another. Beautiful!!


We all need a spiritual home, community, and relationships that deeply enrich us, people who know our story and don't walk away. We were called to live in a community with individuals, churches, and in our marriages. Humanity longs to be seen, heard, and cared for, and the world longs to see true love. This healthy reciprocal space with others empowers and enlivens us to grow in wholeness. Without this, we develop rhythms of survival that diminish us from God's creative intent for our lives.


Therapy and counseling are unique works that untangle these diminishing rhythms, fostering something new. This work is also a companionship, a coming alongside another with an intentional point of care. I have found great help from these care measures in my story. I may have more ahead; who knows? "All truth is God's truth"- St Augustine.


Here’s a way to think about the difference between therapy/counseling and spiritual direction: imagine your life as a tree whose branches and leaves represent all the aspects of your life. A therapist is going to examine a spot on a leaf or a broken branch (emotional and mental issues) and work with you on how to heal those parts, while a spiritual director (Companion) is going to focus on the wind blowing through the leaves and branches (God moving in each aspect of your life, including those broken places). -Danae Ashley


In this story, on the road, therapy or counseling wasn't needed; Christ pursued their hearts, beliefs, and the complexity of their distress. He focused on where the wind was blowing them. Christ was inviting them through their circumstances to His story and intimacy with Him. Spiritual Companionship has flavors of therapy and counseling, but it is not the means for this journey. It is an informing from one's faith about the invitations God is extending in their current circumstances.


In companionship, I am stepping into new rhythms of life that flourish my daily living with Christ at a pace I can walk. It's a unique perspective on how I see myself, others, Christ, and my journey. It's a relationship to be lived with Him, spouses, individuals, and in the community. Being home with God and others is life - It is an adventure!


Beginning such a new way of living can be very scary, and God, throughout His word, says, "Do not be afraid; it is I, and I am with you." This invite and exploration you or I can't go alone. If you need someone to walk alongside you as you step towards finding your home(s) to discern how God is speaking and leading you, I would be honored to sit with you.


Peace,

Rob



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