This family is poor.
That man is homeless.
Is. That’s a powerful word. When “is” appears by itself in a sentence, it functions like an equal sign. This is that. It creates an identity and a sense of permanence.
That’s great when “is” is used in a positive and empowering way: Love is good. I am smart. We are human beings.
But it can also be damaging and dis-empowering. A family that is poor is now reduced to and defined by their lack of money. A man who is homeless becomes an object of pity trapped by circumstances.
None of us can be defined by and confined to single words.
A family is not poor. A family is experiencing poverty.
A man is not homeless. He is experiencing homelessness.
Adding the word “experiencing” changes it from an identity to a condition. Conditions are temporary. Conditions can change. Conditions are learning experiences.
So next time, empower people and treat them with greater respect by acknowledging that they are not confined to and defined by what ever struggle they are facing. They are simply experiencing a difficult situation.