The chaos in the backseat of my van was undeniable. There were screams, yells and giggles.
It wasn’t a rockstar, a marching band or even Johnny Football that caught their attention. No, it was the homeless African-American single mom, holding a cardboard sign, baking in the hot 95-degree Texas heat. Her sign simply said, “please help.”
We had a survival kit in our front seat—a plastic bag filled with water and non-perishable snacks—the kids had created as part of their week at Mobile Loaves & Fishes Camp. They were itching to give it away. In the moment it took for my husband to slow down the van, we both spoke sternly, yet lovingly to our children.
“This woman on the street corner is not a zoo animal, guys. She is a real person. Please treat her with respect,” I heard my husband say. I mumbled something not nearly as eloquent. Fortunately, my husband’s words tempered the excitement and turned the focus on the reality before us.
“God bless,” we said. Her face lit up as the kids waved at her from the backseat. Our youngest bowed his head and then quickly peeked up to give her a wave, just as she returned his. I smiled a polite smile and immediately felt like the biggest hypocrite in the world.
You see, before last week, my heart was heavy for the homeless, but incredibly guarded.
I judged them. Hard.
If I gave them money, they would probably use it on drugs.
Why couldn’t they be more productive with their time and find a job, instead of standing on a street corner?
Oh, that guy probably has his BMW parked around the corner. He’s just panhandling because he doesn’t want to pay the IRS any taxes.
Is that woman really a single mom with no support?
With great shame, I admit I have thought them all. In some twisted, horrible, unloving spirit I thought I was better than they were. I have a husband, two cars, steady income and a van filled with children. That would never be me on the corner. Or would it?
Some of us start out of the gate with tremendous blessings, other people have to work hard to keep them. But none of us, not one, is above (or below) God’s love. I never expected my children’s week at MLF Camp to have such a profound impact on me.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcome me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you care for me, in prison and you visited me.” – Matthew 25:35
Feeding our neighbors and friends comes so easily to us, doesn’t it? We’re quick to invite friends over for dinner, let them borrow an outfit, rush to their aid when illness strikes. Why does socioeconomic status and geography change that generous heart?
May God continue to richly bless the mission of Mobile Loaves and Fishes and may each of us find a way to show every person we meet they have dignity and are worthy of God’s love.