Ray was at a Crossroads.
“It was a clear sign for me that I was doing something wrong… I knew that if I didn’t change, then I could end up just like those guys.”
FROM THE OUTSIDE IN
Raymond has felt like an outsider since he was very young. Born into a blended family, he was closest to his mother, but she left when he was still a small child. Her absence would go on to shape Raymond’s future.
“My mom was the biggest love of my life,” he shares. “When I was a kid, she left one day and I followed her car for almost 20 blocks. She passed away soon after, and I knew I was going to be alone. I said that I would never let anyone get so close to me that it would hurt me to see them leave. All of my relationships were colored by that.
“I was always the outsider, the step child. I’ve always been set aside and told, ‘You aren’t part of the group,’ so I just figured it was me against the world.”
That attitude has stuck with Raymond since he was young. Without a birth certificate—he was born in the back of a truck and was never issued one—he has struggled to get an ID, and in turn, secure housing and a steady job. He has spent time in jail and bounced from shelter to shelter. Finally, Raymond got a rude awakening.
“My job at the shelter was to wake the other guys up at 6:00 a.m.,” he tells us. “One morning, I got the shock of my life because I tried to get one guy up, and he wouldn’t wake up. The same thing happened again two days later to someone else I had just been playing cards with.
“It was a clear sign for me that I was doing something wrong, and I needed to quit doing what I was doing. I knew that if I didn’t change, then I could end up just like those guys. Fortunately, the Mission helped me figure out that I had been living a wrong way of life.”
Changing his thinking
“What’s amazing to me is that I go to the classes here in the morning, and then I go downtown and right away there is something that I picked up in class that can get me out of a bad situation. It’s an immediate payoff because I can say, ‘Ok Ray, take a deep breath and use your wise mind.’
“I’ve always had a ‘me, me, me’ attitude. I was so alone when I was young, so I’ve put people off and said, ‘Don’t mess with me.’ But now I see my brother struggling and I want to do what I can to make it less painful. I want to help because I never got help.
“I’ve learned that if I do God’s work, it can lead other people to Christ. That’s what I want to do now.”
Finding a place at the table
With the resources available to him at the Mission, Raymond was able to get an ID earlier this year. He’s currently putting it to good use as he searches for a job and permanent housing. Most importantly, he no longer feels like an outsider.
“I’ve been trying to fill that void my whole life, but here, we are all trying to find God and stability. That puts us in the same club.
“It’s a “we” situation that I’ve never had before. I can listen to my brother and let iron sharpen iron.”
Thank you for making stories like Ray’s possible!
Click below to read Ray’s Story in His Hands.
His Hands is a publication of The City Mission.
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