It’s Sunday afternoon, cold outside and so we spent some time planning our getaway over the Christmas time. We were going to spend a couple of weeks with our kids and our grandkids and other family members. As our departure time drew quite closer the excitement started to build, because we would get to visit with the little ones. (Spoil them actually)
So in the middle of all our planning, it strikes me that I have the freedom to plan ahead. You may be thinking to yourself,” so what’s the big deal with that; we do it all the time!” Let me explain where I’m coming from.
More often than I care to remember, that in conversation with folks downtown, if I question them as to their plans, I usually just get a look that tells me they really don’t have one. In fact, they don’t feel that they have a right to plan anything; addictions, poverty or illnesses prevent them from indulging in that luxury.
It might not make sense to you, but imagine if you were in their shoes. If addictions hold you back, it usually because your entire focus is on you obtaining your next fix. If it’s poverty, your focus is on producing your next paycheque; if you’re even fortunate enough to be working. How can you plan anything when you don’t have a job or know where your next meal will come from; believe me, there are folks that poor in our society. Illnesses, mental and physical, are also a huge factor in the ability to plan.
These people all have dreams of things they would like to do but when you are in one of the aforementioned ‘prisons,’ you lose even the freedom to plan the fulfillment of your dreams.
At first, I thought that this is not a big thing, but then I began to realize that in fact it is a huge part of our psychological well-being. This is where the freedom part comes in.
When we have made the choice not to be enslaved to drugs or alcohol, or we are able to be well paid for our work and no mental or physical conditions hold us back then we are free to plan for tomorrow or next week or even next year.
I sometimes feel that we don’t often stop to think just how blessed we are to have this particular freedom.
If nothing else, it should make us empathetic to the plight of those who cannot. At first my thoughts were poverty and illness I can understand, but addictions are a personal choice so I don’t think I should have to sympathize with addicts.
What we don’t stop to realize sometimes is that addictions are also an illness, albeit a controllable one in most cases, so it does merit some consideration on our part.
One particular fellow even though he has a job that pays quite adequately cannot plan for his own future. PTSD keeps him bound in a mental prison so that fear prevents him from planning anything more than the day he is in.
The challenge here is finding a way to encourage those that are unable to plan. Like any other condition where a little encouragement is required to help someone along, the first order is to start a relationship where trust is established to the point that the help extended will be received.
If you and I can have the pleasure of having our plans come to fruition, would it not be in our interest to see that others could enjoy the same experience? Even a small plan?
Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.