Last week I was on my way home from class. It was late at night and there was a man out near the freeway with his sign. I’m in Phoenix and it gets hot here, I mean really hot. My heart always goes out to people that I see on the street (especially during the day). Whether they are homeless, walking, or waiting for the bus. It’s way too hot to be outside just because you want to. So here I was, stopped at this light waiting for it to turn green and get on the freeway to make my half hour drive home and crawl into bed by 11. Out of the corner of my eye I see this man with a sign.
The old me was suspicious of people. I would have wondered is he really in need? Is he one of these people that tugs on people’s heartstrings and goes home to a big ol’ house and a nicer car than me? The new me says, it doesn’t matter! I didn’t question his motivation or genuineness. I know it’s hot outside, he’s a human being and he needs water. So I take a cooler with cold bottles of water everywhere I go. I place it on the passenger’s side on the floor. It’s easy to reach and whenever I come across someone that’s out in the heat (even at night) I give them a cold bottle of water.
I’m not telling you this to toot my own horn, in fact I’d rather not be telling this because it’s something I do from the bottom of my heart and don’t seek any attention from it. But there was such a connection I made that night with that man. When I honked my horn and rolled down my window, I know a lot of times they are expecting money. I never know what to expect when I hold a water bottle out of the window. One time I had a man curse me out for offering him a bag filled with toiletries and soft chewable snacks. It made me leery of offering anything other than money but I had to get over it. I couldn’t let one person’s reaction deprive others of the little I was able to offer them. When I handed this man the bottle of water, he gave me such a heartfelt smile that I saw it in his eyes. Not just that his eyes creased in the corners but I really saw the appreciation in his eyes. I smiled back, he thanked me and asked God to bless me as he stood back on the median and drank his water. When the light turned green, I went to give a little honk to say bye but he was already looking towards me and waving.
This week’s teachable moment is two fold-
- By choosing to view the world in a kinder way, I no longer expect the worst of people- Instead of being suspicious of everyone and their intentions, I just give from a grateful and kind heart. I’ve realized it’s the manner in which I give that matters. What that person does with it is up to them, I’m not responsible for it or in control of it.
- There are people that live off of the kindness of others- This goes hand in hand with the point above. When I stopped looking at people as if they were out to take advantage of me and everyone around me, I was able to see that this man standing under the overpass of the freeway at 10:30 at night in 100° weather is either really dedicated or really in need. He and many others live day to day depending on the kindness of others to fill their stomachs and have the basic necessities to live.
Point 2 really made me realize that there’s more kindness in the world than we realize. Ideally no one would go without and there would be a better social structure in place to help those in need. Yet there are many people in need. I encourage you to be less leery and be more giving. I’m willing to bet you won’t think twice about having given to someone that truly needed it. I personally choose to give water or items because it’s a necessity and I can help more people. I can either give one person some money or I can spend $4 on a case of 32 water bottles and hand them out to many people. When you give without judgement or expectation, it sets you up to give freely from your heart without regret. As individuals we might not be able to fix the problem on our own but we can make a difference even if only in a small way.
What are your thoughts on this post? Can you relate to being suspicious of others? Do you give with a kind and grateful heart? Do you give without expectation? If not, are you willing to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!