Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness. Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream. I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.
Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.” Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.
- Fear of the unknown. See From my diary: Learning to pray.
- Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am. In particular, at the shelter in recent months have been several guys who just “came home” from doing “hard time,” and within days had found jobs.
- Times of despair. I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen. The question isn’t whether I fall down, but whether I’ll get back up. A moment of despair doesn’t rule out faith long-term. It can be OK for me to lie there and have a little pity party, as long as it’s reasonably brief.
- Incidents of utter selfishness. (I may rename this if I think of a better name.) Several weeks ago after church, I became impatient waiting for the person who had promised me a ride downtown, and waiting also for my principal patron, who was tied up in conversation with others. I became disgusted with myself over feeling that way; and disgusted that I was hanging out there long after I would otherwise have left, having feelings all about obtaining favors for me, me, me.
That’s not a pretty way to end this just now, but in the long run I do think I need to be candid in admitting what it takes to climb one’s way out of poverty.