There have been a few times in my life where I didn’t take action. It was usually because I wanted to avoid something uncomfortable.
One of my friends lost a parent several years ago, and while they were all at the hospital, I debated whether or not to go. There were many good reasons for not going, but enough reasons that I should have gone. By the time I decided to jump in the car, I got the phone call that the parent had passed away. Although I went over the house soon thereafter, I wished I had gone and said goodbye.
Since then, I think I’ve used such instances to be direct and set things in motion. If there is any doubt about what should be done – even an inkling that it should be done – I usually choose the inkling.
It doesn’t make me this great person. I’ve learned through much error and still don’t always err on the side of the positive.
We often drive past homeless folks when we are headed to South County. At times, our car isn’t close enough to reach them before the light changes. That’s my excuse, anyway. I also will tell you there have been many times I’ve just driven on by, avoiding eye contact in order to not deal with, again, discomfort.
But I often wonder what we are teaching our children. Sure, the homeless people may look alarming or unkempt. They may even be a little scary at times. But we don’t know where they come from. We don’t really know who they are.
I have argued that such people are often in this predicament because they have dealt with drug and alcohol addiction. Maybe they still are, and their pleas for money are simply to fund this habit. It’s amazing the conversations I can have with myself when my heart is hardened. My heart is like quick-drying concrete, sometimes.
My wife has helped me immensely in the department of coming out of my comfort zone. She has pushed me, and I’m grateful for her.
A few weeks ago, on an extremely cold day, we were sitting strategically at the stoplight, and a disheveled man bundled up as best he could stood a few feet away. Michelle rolled the window down all the way, and held out a bill that we had with us.
“What are your needs today?” we asked him.
He approached the car, pretty close by and had tears in his eyes.
“I’m trying to raise enough money to get a hotel room for my three girls and I tonight,” he said. “I don’t want to make them sleep overnight in the shelter.”
When we handed him the bill, his eyes sparkled and he said “I only have 13 more dollars to get after this! Bless you.”
He told us what ages his daughters were, and as we pulled away, he thanked us again. “We will pray for you,” we hollered.
Now, that story sounds pretty good. We helped a person down on his luck. He had a pretty convincing story and rattled off the ages of his kids pretty fast. He had tears in his eyes.
Still, a part of me remains cautious. It could have been a great big, manipulative story for all we knew. The money could have indeed been used for something that he didn’t really need.
He could have been a professional liar. He could have been part of a swindling business. I’ve heard about such things on the news, haven’t you?
However, what if he really needed it? What if his story was really true and he begged every day to keep his kids safe? What if? What if? What if?
We went with our inkling.