Sometimes I like to go do a little window shopping on my lunch break, you know, just to get out of the office. Today I decided to run by trusty Wal-Mart on my lunch break just in case they had some undiscovered super cheap jewel that I didn’t know I needed (they didn’t – by the way – total bummer.)
On my drive back I found myself praying for many things. As I have said before, Steven and I are going through a difficult time right now. Some unexpected curve balls have been thrown our way as of late, and we are working through them. I know this is a minor speed bump, and I truly believe that somehow this challenge is actually a blessing in disguise. I believe that God has a plan for our lives and that He wants to bless us – I’m just waiting on Him to reveal His plan. So I sat at the stop light praying. Praying that God would bless my husband. Praying that God would bless me. Praying that God would reveal His will for our lives and open a door to new opportunities for us – and sooner rather than later, please.
In the middle of reflection I caught sight of an elderly, homeless woman standing on the street corner to my right. I immediately shifted my glance as to avoid eye contact with her. After all, she probably was homeless because she had some sort of addiction, and if I gave her money she wouldn’t buy food she would buy something that would only make her situation worse, right?
In the exact instant that I completed that thought, the wind was knocked out of me. Thoughts of shame and guilt started to flow like running water – drowning me in a river of conviction. How dare I? How dare I sit in my car praying that God would bless my life and ignore a blatant opportunity to be a blessing in the life of someone else? Who am I to judge this women? It is only by the grace of God that I can sit comfortably in my air conditioned car while this poor elderly woman stands starving on a street corner. How in the world have I become so jaded that my first instinct is to turn my eyes from those in need instead of looking for an opportunity to show kindness and generosity. Just last week a couple from our Life Group sent Steven and I an incredibly thoughtful gift. I was so touched by their act of kindness that I was moved to tears. A week later I can’t bring myself to give a few dollars to a person in significantly more need than myself? Lord please forgive me for being so selfish.
As the light turned green I reached for my purse. Of course I only had two dollars cash to give to this woman, but I figured something was better than nothing. I called to her and as she approached my passenger side door I was surprised to seeing the biggest smile on her face. “Thank-you sweet child,” she praised. “You are so beautiful. You remind me of my daughter – you have her smile. The kind of smile that gives people hope. I pray that God blesses your kindness.” Wow….wow…wow….
As cars began to honk at me for holding up traffic, I quickly wished her well and drove away. I barely got out of her sight before I burst into tears. The kind of smile that gives people hope? Pray that God blesses my kindness? This stranger showered me with words of praise and compassion when only moments before I had mentally accused her of being some type of addict? Talk about a reality check.
This world is full of tragedy. Just yesterday I learned that a blogger friend, Mrs. P, lost her husband while he was serving in Afghanistan. This economy has wreaked havoc on family after family of hardworking Americans who can now barely afford to feed and clothe their families. Hospitals are ridden with patients struggling to overcome illness and disease – families sit in waiting rooms praying for the lives of their loved ones.
I’m so ashamed of myself for the way I initially reacted to the sight of this homeless woman. I pray that this will be a turning point in my life – that I will not shy from helping those in need again. I was reminded today that no act of kindness is too small. If we look close enough, we are given an opportunity each day to show compassion and generosity to those around us. Like me, will you continue to ignore the hurting around you – or will you wake up and be a blessing in someone’s life?
That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.