Miller: Like the least of these

Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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Missy pads along the hardwood floors at my daughter’s house, sniffing here and there as she checks out her new digs for a few days. I think she enjoys visiting as much as I do, but she is definitely a warm-weather girl. The temperatures have been pretty chilly here in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee, and Missy moves her old bones pretty quickly to come in from the cold!

People who have to battle the elements have been on my mind a lot lately. To think of those unfortunate enough to have no home, especially at this time of year, breaks my heart. It is more real to me than ever before because I know and care about someone who not only has no home, but is also incarcerated.

At one time I thought those kinds of people got what was coming to them. What an arrogant attitude! I found out by living life that those kinds of people are often not so very different from you or me. They cry when they are hurt and smile when they are happy just like the rest of us. They make mistakes and desire forgiveness and love just as the more fortunate folks do.

I never really knew how difficult the life of someone in and out of jail could be. And I didn’t know how tough it was for the impoverished with no safety net to get on a better path. All this I know because I met Tammy (name changed for privacy).

Several years ago one of my friends hired her for yard work, and I followed suit. At first, I saw all the outward things that we tend to notice — the unkempt appearance, the bad teeth, the ugly talk. But after a while I saw the young girl whose parents had left her an orphan. I saw the pain that made her turn to drugs all those years ago, and we became friends from very different worlds.

The other day Tammy told me, “Ms. Jan, I found myself watching my mouth even when you aren’t around. I’m really trying to make my life better. I see your life and Ms. Debbie’s, and It gives me hope. It makes me want to try.”

I have been so proud to see the positive steps that my friend has made, but just last week her trailer burned and when she called for help she was transported to jail for something or other. Now she is homeless. I know the police are only trying to do their jobs, and she would probably be on the streets if not in jail, but it’s just so very sad.

As a society we need to search hard for solutions, and I know anything that could be done would cost money. But I also think there are way too many Tammys out there. I know our Savior has great love for those in deep distress and need, and He would have us do our best for them.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at