Homelessness is not something I write about often, but frequently write about issues facing the LGBTQ community. I had decided not to write about Tyler because my motive for helping Tyler was not for recognition or thanks, or for even purely altruistic purposes, because in reality I hired Tyler, but when I thought about it I realized that people need to know about the Tylers in this world.
Let me begin by saying that Tyler was not his name but that is unimportant. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was leaving the home improvement store to come home to work on an outdoor project. Tyler was standing at the traffic intersection with a cardboard sign that said he was homeless and looking for work. He was younger than my youngest son and maybe that is why I called him over and said “Do you want to work?” He shook his head vigorously and said yes! I told him to hop into my car and I asked him his name. Filling him in on what the job on my front porch entailed I let him know that I would pay him twenty dollars an hour for two hours work. He said he knew how to do the job and thanked me. When we arrived at the house I asked if he wanted to eat before he worked and he said no thank you, the home improvement store had a fast food chain in front of it and he had been given food.
Tyler went straight to work and I explained to my friend that was visiting that there was just something about him that convinced me I need not worry about my safety in any way. I had told him that I was a minister during the car ride and I had also told him that I didn’t intend to preach to him. I knew that simply by letting him know that I was a minister that from that point forward it would be my actions and not my words that would represent the church to this young man.
While Tyler was working I remembered that there was a pair my late husband’s jeans in my closet and I thought about them. I had given away most of Don’s clothing in the two times I had moved since losing him. Don wasn’t going to need them of course and I knew Don would want me to take care of this young man. While offering him the jeans and a t-shirt, I put his clothing into my washing machine. He asked me what kind of minister I was and I told him that I was a rather progressive, liberal United Methodist and I asked if he had gone to church growing up. He said that it had been a “Born Again” church in a rural area and that it was pretty conservative. He said he didn’t feel comfortable there. I said I was sorry that was the case and tried to tell him that not all churches were the same.
When he had finished working I asked if he wanted to shower before I took him back to where he was staying for the night. He said his brother lived in an apartment, and that the next door neighbor usually let him sleep on his porch. Then he told me that he was bisexual and that his relationship with his mother was rocky. I gave him my phone number and let him know that if he ever wanted to go to a church where he felt comfortable he could call and I would take him.
Would I do the same thing over again? Maybe, maybe not. People come into our lives for a reason and maybe the reason I met Tyler was to give me a home for the memories I have been hanging on to in my closet. Maybe the reason I came into Tyler’s life was to let him know that not all Christians would put him in a closet.by