Most people I’ve encountered are wary of the homeless. My opinion? I think they’re awesome. I spent a large chunk of my summer hanging out with the homeless here in Birmingham, Alabama. I was there not only to simply live life with them but also to record their stories.

DSC_0813The array of stories I heard was vast, ranging from the “I had everything and lost it” to “my parents kicked out when they discovered I was gay” to “one of my parents died.” I heard stories of the greatest joys and the deepest pains.

One theme that resonated throughout all I heard was that these people still had joy.

Their stories reminded me that even in the worst of circumstances, you can still have joy. Even when everything is against you (and for the homeless, everything was), there is still joy. It’s something that cannot be taken away from by external forces. Unless you allow someone to rob you of joy, you will have it if you seek it.

Looking back, I’m still overwhelmed by how much joy my homeless friends had. They are a reminder that even when times get tough, joy can still be found. And for that, I am thankful.