I was speaking to my husband on the phone today as I was driving with my son. I had literally just answered the call when we approached a busy intersection with a woman holding a cardboard sign and had it not been for my son noticing that she was crying, I probably wouldn’t have paid a great deal of attention. When Nick remarked that she was crying and that her sign said something about having kids, I told W I had to call him back and attempted to make a u-turn.
As fate would have it, my gas light was on and we were in a hurry to get home because Nick had somewhere to go. As I was scrambling for an ATM (and gas!), I dug into my purse and found $10. I don’t know how long I’d had cash in my wallet ~ I literally always rely on my debit card so I took a chance on running out of gas and headed back south on Dale Mabry Hwy. Eventually, we made it back to her and by this time she was bawling. The tears my son had seen her wipe away had evolved into a full fledged sob. After digging out my last 4 dollar bills, I rolled down the window and motioned for her to come over to my car, which she did. Unfortunately, I was never able to read her sign in its entirety but Nick thinks it said something about having 4 kids, losing her job and being homeless.
The sad truth is that I’m pretty used to seeing people panhandle for money. What I’m not used to seeing is a young woman sobbing while she’s doing it and it nearly broke my heart. As she approached the car, I handed her the $14 and asked her if she was okay, which was actually a pretty stupid question under the circumstances but she knew what I meant and answered me, “I’m okay. This is just embarrassing.” I told her I would pray for her and I will but as we drove away, my heart ached for her. She may have been relying on strangers to help her for the very first time and her pride was wounded. She was embarrassed and those words were not what I expected to hear. They may have been the most honest words I’ve heard in a very long time.
I feel good that I was able to help her but it wasn’t enough. Not enough by far.
I feel terrible that I pass others and don’t always help them.
I feel terribly sad that there are hungry children and shameful parents.
I feel proud that when a man asked for food money in Orlando a couple of nights ago, two of my staff members took him to a pizzeria across the street and bought him a huge slice.
I feel irritated by the people who make us doubt the sincerity of someone in need.
I feel I could have done more for her but I don’t know in what way.
I feel blessed and guilty all at the same time.
And when I feel this way, all I can do is ask God to help. Help her and maybe help me…because I am the one who should be embarrassed.