There have been all of these moments in my life – tiny moments that don’t seem to mean much at the time – but when I stop to think about them, I am reminded how fortunate I am. Even after a painful week like the one I just had, I can still find something to be grateful for each day. Sometimes, it’s easy. Other times, I literally have to force myself to look for it, but it’s always there.
I was eating lunch with some friends today. We were sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather. We were caught up in a fit of laughter when we noticed a disheveled man walking up to our table.
As he stared at the ground, he told us he was a homeless vet. He asked if we had any extra food we could give him. I immediately made a mental note of this – he asked for food, NOT for money – because I knew I was going to have to explain myself to these women as soon as he walked away.
I told him to take a napkin and I would put some food in it for him. I took my fork and scooped up all of the french fries that came with my sandwich and placed them into his hands.
He never once made eye contact with me. His eyes moved from the ground, to the food, and back to the ground again. I made a mental note of this too.
He was desperate, humiliated, starving…
He was broken…😞
My heart ached for him as I watched him walk away. The women I sat with were clearly questioning my sanity, but I didn’t care. The women I work with only know the person I am today. They didn’t know me back then – they know very little about my past or the things I’ve had to overcome.
They don’t understand that I was broken once too.
I am no longer able to ignore the suffering of others. I just can’t do it. I am incapable of dismissing another human when they’ve asked for help.
Nobody deserves to be homeless, no matter what the circumstance were that left them without shelter – especially a veteran.
When I came into recovery, a woman with decades of sobriety told me something I have never forgotten. She said, “We must treat people with grace and dignity…ALWAYS.”
I don’t care what a person has done in their past. I don’t care how “bad” society thinks they are, what they were arrested for or why they are homeless. All I care about is that they have a desire within themselves to change, and I want to know how I can help them. I cannot do it for them, but if they have the courage to ask for help, I will do my best to guide them along the way.
Some people will say I enabled that man – that I only encouraged him to continue begging.
I disagree. He wasn’t “begging”, he was asking for help.
Some people will say that, as a woman, I put myself in danger.
I disagree. He was hungry, not dangerous.
Some people will say I didn’t even help him. All I did was give him a couple of French fries.
I disagree. I treated him with grace and dignity.
You would be amazed how just a simple act of kindness can change a persons direction in life.
It’s easy to forget what a blessing it is to live a life free of fear. I sometimes forget what a blessing it is to have a roof over my head, food on my table, warm clothing and shoes on my feet. This past week, I took for granted my dental insurance, bubble baths and the unconditional love of my puppy.
Nothing is promised in this life.
Today, I helped another human being fill his belly. I hope this act of kindness encourages him to try again tomorrow. What he decides to do with tomorrow is his choice, but I sincerely hope he chooses to continue doing whatever it is he has to do to survive. I hope, some day, he finds his miracle too. 💖