I was driving around yesterday with my kids, running a few errands and trying to get caught up on a few things. We grabbed some McDonald's for lunch (termed: Old McDonald's in our home) and were eating as we drove from store to store.
I was stuffing my face with french fries and licking the oh-so-good salt from my fingers as I pulled up to a stoplight. I noticed an older man standing on the median with a sign that said "homeless and hungry". There were a few thoughts that immediately ran through my head: (1.) are my doors locked? Check. (2.) What is a homeless man doing in our town? (yes, I really thought that. Not to sound snobby but there aren't many homeless people walking around our small town so it was an unusual sight) (3.) Do I now stop eating my yummy fries, that I know he can see, or do I continue eating? (4.) Should I break my husband's rule and roll down my window to share?
I was conflicted. I wanted to help him. I felt sorry that he was standing there with a hungry tummy. I didn't know if I could trust him though. Was he really homeless? Or just looking for a free lunch? Do I dare attempt to give him something when I had my three kids in the car? My husband has said that he doesn't want me to do that. But if I'm honest with myself -- would I have done it if I had permission? Or if I was alone in the car? I'm afraid that the homeless stereotype does indeed have me fearful and skeptical.
And then the following conversation took place:
5 year-old Cody - "Mommy, who is that man?"
Me - Just a man. (thinking "that's not a very Christ-like answer you idiot".)
4 year-old Ava - "What is he holding?"
Me - "A sign."
Cody - "What's it say?"
Me - "It says he's hungry."
Ava - "Does he want our chicken nuggets?"
Cody- "He can have mine. I'm full." (After he only ate one!)
Me - Silence.
Stoplight turns green and we begin moving.
Ava - "Mommy, why didn't we share?"
Me - "Ummmmm..."
As if I wasn't already feeling bad enough, when I emptied my car after we got home, I had to throw away six chicken nuggets, a medium fry and a half full apple juice box.
Father, forgive me for ignoring that man's need. I know you love him and I should as well. Give me the courage and wisdom I need to handle situations like these because I want to be someone that pleases you by loving and caring for others.
Have you ever experienced a situation like this? What do you typically do or think when you come across a homeless person? Do you have any good "encounters" that you can share?