Brian and Jeff sat on the public transit on their way back to their downtown San Francisco hotel. It was getting late when a homeless man entered their car. They knew he was homeless. He had several bags tied together and piled on a cart that he maneuvered carefully into the public train. A stench filled the air as the two guys instinctively covered their noses with their hands.
Lost in their own thoughts Brian and Jeff watched the homeless man fidget with his belongings. Brian began to wonder why this man ended up living on the streets carrying every possession he owned in dirty old bags focused on finding food, shelter and safety, while he (Brian) enjoyed a comfortable home, never worried about his next meal, and enjoyed the blessing of a beautiful family.
In another part of the world, John swore he would never act out again on his addiction, yet here he was returning to it like a dog returns to his vomit. Why could he not stop? How could his friends learn to cope with life in healthy ways but he always seemed destined for destruction?
A 14 year-old girl stands at the top of the stairs screaming at her foster mom, “Go ahead hit me! Hit me and get it over.” The young teen had been abused as a young child, then again in a foster home. She didn’t know how to relate to a family who showed her unconditional love. Trust? What was that?
Brokenness. Inability to cope with life. Continuing to seek behavior that we know harms us. All these actions say that a brain that is unhealthy.
Many of us feel conflicted when these encounters are forced upon us. What do we do? No one can solve the problems of everyone who is homeless, addicted or without a family, right?
Tough questions. No easy answers. But at some level we all struggle with unhealthy brains or thinking. So really ‘there except by the grace of God go I’.
Neuroscience over the past 10-20 years has learned a lot about how unhealthy brain chemistry leads to poor life choices. The more we make these bad choices, the stronger or more well-worn those neurotransmitter paths become in our brain.
For most of us this unhealthy brain chemistry is what makes it difficult to resist the fast food meal, late night snack or a bag of popcorn at the movies. But for many others, the struggle that looms is larger and ends up more destructive.
So, what does a person with an “unhealthy” brain need?
They need to retrain or rewire their brain. The challenge is just how does a person do that?
I think the best way is for someone with a “healthy” brain to come along side them and walk with them helping them to make good choices, resist temptation and experience healthy relationships.
In reality we all need someone like this to walk with us. Enter the only perfect man to ever walk on this earth—Jesus Christ. Thank God He came to us to heal our brokenness.
You might not think you have anything to offer someone who is suffering from their brokenness. But all they might need is for you to spend time with them, so that they can learn how to make good decisions, see themselves from a healthy perspective or learn how to trust people.
As 2014 begins to wind down, will you ask God to open your eyes to someone you can walk along with who you can help overcome some unhealthy brain chemistry this next year? Not everyone. Just the one that God puts in front of you.