5 Ways Our Family Changed For The Better When We Became Homeless

Photo: Rock and Wasp / Shutterstock
family walking

At the beginning of this month, we took our first family road trip vacation in years. My wife and kids, and my parents packed up two cars full of stuff and headed west. We were headed to spend time with my brother and his family in Missouri, but this was a trip that almost didn't happen.

We had an amazing time. The words I kept hearing from our kids were, "Epic family vacation!" I have to agree, although I didn't think it would happen. Shortly after the trip was initially planned we found out that our daughter had a national track meet the same week.

Off and running, but broken. She had already missed the first two track meets of the year due to other commitments, so we weren't planning on her missing a national meet. So, we opted out of the trip.

RELATED: What I Learned In The Year I Was Homeless

Then it happened: after experiencing about two weeks of pain in her hip, she participated in her first track meet of the year.

It was a shortened meet due to rain, but she was able to compete in the 100-meter dash, and she got first place. But the pain in her hip was pretty bad, so we decided to schedule an appointment with her doctor. After some tests, we were told she had a hairline fracture in her growth plate (the thing that connects the hip and thigh bones).

So, she was broken. And we were broken, as this track season was basically over for her and she'd miss all the qualifying meets. This was particularly frustrating to me, as she opted out of the winter track season; therefore, two whole seasons would've passed without her competing.

But there's a bright side. My family was exceptionally excited and reminded me that we now had no plans for the weekend and days surrounding the Fourth of July. Which meant our family road trip was back in play.

That trip and time spent with my brother and his family were epic. And not just because we had fun watching fireworks, lighting carloads of fireworks, playing in bounce houses, having water balloon fights, getting family photos, going to amusement parks and water parks, enjoying church service together, and just hanging out.

But my brother and I reconnected after having been disconnected for a few years. I spent quality time with my 2-year-old nephew and my 4-year-old niece for the first time.

Our wives spent time and deepened their relationship, and of course, our kids and their kids fell in love with one another, whom they'd really only known through photos.

Hindsight is 20/20. Yet, none of this would've happened had our daughter not broken her hip.

RELATED: That Time I Went Out With A Homeless Man (And Didn't Know It)

It's good to be broken. When I say this, I speak from many broken experiences. You wouldn't be reading this blog post if I'd not been broken. My blog was birthed out of a broken situation.

The loss of a job (brokenness) led to some challenging times for me and my family. That job loss forced me to look at other ways to support my family. So, I started an online business only to have it fail (brokenness) after gaining two customers. This led to me start a blog.

While you may think the blog was the turnaround, it wasn't, initially. Roughly seven months after starting the blog, our money ran out and the blog wasn't making anything. We couldn't keep our home (brokenness), so we had to move out with no place to go and no money to pay for anything.

Not sure it can get any worse than this.

We were homeless and slept on the basement floor of some friends, stayed in my mother-in-law's extra room, and spent some time in hotels that a friend paid for with his accumulated hotel points. I was at one of my lowest points.

We were finally able to afford an apartment of our own, but just barely, as we received a "notice to vacate if not paid" almost every week we were there, it seemed.

Our furniture, the kid's toys, and everything we owned except that which fit in the car was in storage. We made weekly trips to storage to search for stuff. Some weeks we made daily trips.

But great things are coming.

Ironically, our kids were having a great time. We spent so much time together. Trips to the storage meant they could pull out their toys and play. It was like a treasure hunt for them. To my wife and me, it was depressingly hard and discouraging work.

It's good to be broken; great things come out of broken situations. Through our brokenness, our lives have changed for the better. Yet at the time, I didn't realize it.

It's good to be broken; great things come out of broken situations. And here's why:

1. Our values changed.

When you have no home, no money, and you're sleeping on an air mattress with your wife and kids (which was deflated by the time you woke up), you begin to reassess what's really important. The "little" things like family, health, clothes, and food become very valuable.

2. We became passionate.

I've always had a compassion for the person you see holding up the "need help, homeless" sign, but my passion for them grew greatly. As soon as we were able, our entire family would pack "manna bags" full of non-perishable foods in our car then pass them out when we saw people in need.

3. We developed grit.

I had no paying job, so I had time on my hands. I used that time to write like a madman. At one point I was writing for seven different websites to the tune of 50 new and unique blog posts and articles per month, and sometimes up to 70.

That habit developed skills, got me noticed and played a huge part in launching my professional blogging career.

4. We embraced humility.

The biggest blessing to being broken was the humility it brought to me. I realized I could do nothing of real significance alone. I'm not capable. Not skilled enough, not strong enough, not wise enough, and not connected enough.

As a Christian, my help comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. I had to connect with Him and rely on Him in every aspect of my life.

5. We live boldly, without fear.

For years I've been afraid to share our story, until recently. I was afraid of being looked at differently, and being viewed as a failure. But now I realize my brokenness was a good thing. And not just for me.

Since I've started sharing my story, people have been encouraged and lives are being impacted. I'm now boldly living life without fear. I've faced some of my biggest fears, and here I am today, leading and loving my family, and being an example to others striving to do the same.

I honestly started writing this with "writer's block." I had no idea what to write, so I did what all good writers do — I started writing. Now, after 1,200 words, I'm hoping it has an impact on you.

If you've read this far, you've probably been broken before or are currently broken. But as the title suggests and my story shows, it's good to be broken, so be encouraged.

RELATED: Yes, Tell Your Kids You Regret Having Them

Jackie Bledsoe is a writer who focuses on family and relationships. He has been featured in Tony Dungy’s AllProDad , Disney’s Babble, Black and Married with Kids, the NFL’s USA Football, Coach Up, and more. Follow him on his blog. 

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.