I couldn’t sleep tonight…not until I blogged about this:
As Chelcie and I sat at Panera “attempting” to study for finals yesterday morning, an older man walked in from what looked like off the streets, and standing just a few feet away from the table at which we were located, began speaking to everyone in the room. He said something along these lines: “Excuse me everyone…I know it’s the holiday season and you all are probably pressed for money right now, but I just walked a really long way from the hospital. And the thing is, I have no money. But I need to catch the bus because this morning I walked all the way from Campbell Station. And I’m also really hungry. So if anyone could help me out, I’d be so grateful. Really grateful. Is anyone willing to do that?”
And then….there was silence. People acted as though they didn’t hear him. As if he wasn’t standing there at all. They just went along doing whatever they had previously been doing. Eating their breakfasts, reading the morning paper, enjoying their warm cups of coffee, talking to the person sitting across the table from them. And maybe some of them didn’t. Hear him, that is. Maybe they were so caught up in their everyday lives that they were oblivious to this man standing right there in front of them...
But I did. I heard him. I didn’t catch every word he said. But I heard enough to know his circumstances. I picked up on every other word to know that this man needed help. Someone’s help. Anyone’s help. And guess what my response was?
Absolutely. Nothing. I became just another person in the room. Just another individual engrossed in my own world. I pretended like I didn’t even hear him and just went back to studying. And looking back on it right now, I’m really ashamed of that fact.
In that moment, I was scared of what others might think of me if I responded to him. I questioned that what I had to offer him might not be good enough. I was skeptical that he would use the money I could give him for something other than food, like drugs or alcohol. I was afraid to step out of my own little box for just a second because I knew it meant I would be put at risk for experiencing uncomfortable.
And why is that? That we are so afraid of being put in a place of uncomfortable sometimes. And how is it so easy for us to know what the right thing to do is in a situation, yet still not do it? I knew this man’s circumstances demanded a response from me, but in that moment it was just too…uncomfortable.
Thankfully, there was a boy sitting behind us who wasn’t like everyone else, afraid to face the uncomfortable. He silently got up, went over to the bakery, and bought the man a bagel. He didn’t cause a scene. In fact, I don’t think they even spoke to one another except for the older man saying “Thank you” as he was walked out the door. The boy quietly sat back down and continued studying like nothing had happened. Like he hadn’t just completely changed that man’s circumstances.
A couple of summers ago, Chelc and I read this book. It’s a WONDERFUL book called Under the Overpass, written by Mike Yankoski. You can check Chelcie’s blog here to find out more about it. I can’t stress enough how badly you should read it if you haven’t yet. It will ROCK. YOUR. WORLD. But basically, it’s a book about these two friends, Mike and Sam, who become homeless for several months because they want to see if their beliefs and faith had been shaped around the circumstances they’ve had their entire lives (living in the secure, upper-middle class environment). It’s a book that changed my whole perception on what loving “the least of these” looks like…Or at least I thought it did. Yesterday wasn’t a very good demonstration of that though. I think it’s time to read it again.
want need to start living out my faith more. In everyday life. I want to get uncomfortable. Because I think we, as Christians, aren’t being called to a place of comfort all the time. I think a lot of people are confused about that. We, as believers, are called to serve wherever and whenever the Lord tells us to. Whether it’s something we’re ready and comfortable with or not.
I wish more than anything I could rewind yesterday. I wish I could have lived out my faith the way that boy did. I don't know his name. I wish I had found that out before he left, because I feel like I could have learned a thing or two from him and we would have been friends. I don't know anything about him really. Except that he gave someone who needed it a bagel. But Jesus does. He knows him by name. And I would like to think that yesterday as that boy was leaving Panera, a dollar poorer yet at the same time so much richer because of what he had just done, Jesus whispered in his ear, "Well done, My Beloved. Well done."