Something happened a few days ago, and I just can't seem to shake it. I've been hesitant to say anything about it, because I firmly believe that when we give of ourselves, we are to do so from the heart and not ask for recognition; but there are lessons to be learned in this situation, so I've decided to share:
I believe it was Tuesday of this week, when this incident occurred. I got home, dog-tired (there's a pun in there), from work to a teenage son needing an adapter for his computer. He had decided to upgrade his graphics card, but he needed to go to Best Buy for this adapter. Needless to say, I didn't want to go. I was seriously exhausted. Between DST and these stray dogs, my sleep patterns have been all jacked up... In any case, we headed to the BB next to Whole Foods, & got what Evan needed for his computer.
As we were driving from the parking lot, an elderly, colored woman approached my car. She looked desperate, so without thinking twice, I stopped and rolled down the window. As she came up to the passenger-side, where Evan was sitting, the first thing this woman said to us was, "Thank you for not being snobby." All I could think to say was, "Sure. What do you need?" The desperation in her voice was heartbreaking. "Please, please. I need to feed my grand babies," she said, along with a bunch of other stuff I really can't recall. I told her to walk toward Whole Foods, and I went and found a parking spot.
As I got out of my car, this woman looked at me with such gratitude, I couldn't help but feel a little humbled. She just kept saying, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord," over and over. Again, without thinking twice, I motioned for her to come in for a hug. She literally collapsed in my arms, y'all, sobbing a little. She was so frail. I just held her and told her it was going to be okay... Now, I'll be honest. She didn't smell so hot. I don't think SHE was necessarily dirty, but the layers of hoodies she was wearing smelled as if she hadn't had the money to wash them in quite some time. Regardless, this poor woman needed a hug... and some food.
After a few moments, I let go of her, and she proceeded to tell me she'd been taking care of her two (or was it 3?) grandsons, because her daughter wasn't in a position to do so. She further explained that the financial support she relies upon from a family member, in order to do so, had fallen through this month. Thankfully, the people at the extended stay motel, where she and her grandkids are living, have been lenient in collecting payment, especially since she cleans up around the motel grounds. The problem was, they had no food, so she had taken a bus to W Little Rock earlier in the day in search of help. Apparently, I was the first person willing to hear her out, much less come to her aid. She told me of a woman she asked a couple of hours before me, who coldly looked at her and told her to, "Go ask for help from someone of [her] own kind." I was appalled. I apologized to her, even though I'd done nothing wrong, myself.
Anyway, by this time, there were no more busses running, and she still needed food. I sensed absolutely no threat from this woman - she was at least in her mid-late 70's, and she couldn't have weighed more than 100 lbs, sopping wet. If she tried anything (which I was fairly certain she wouldn't), I knew Evan and I could take her. :) So, I told her to get in the car, and we would drive to WalMart, where we would get much more food for what I could afford. Whole Foods is expensive. That's exactly what we did. & we filled the cart with good food that would last her a while. I also gave her the money she was short of paying her rent. It wasn't much... only $60... She owed $50-something.
Since she had no other way back to the motel, which was in a rather sketchy part of town (S University Ave), Evan and I agreed it would be best to take her. During the ten-or-so minute drive, she spoke of God and faith. Her words were filled with glorious wisdom, in spite of her obvious lack of education (She never had a chance, y'all. She grew up in AR, probably in the late 30's, early-40's. Black women weren't exactly encouraged to get an education and "become something" back then). It was clear that she has relied upon God for her very survival for many years. She also told us a story that gave both E and me chills. It was one he and I both agreed we'd never forget. I'll have to share that one later, as this post is already too long. :)
When we arrived at her "home," E and I carried the groceries we'd bought up the flight of stairs, to her door. As we were parting ways, I finally stopped and thought to ask her name. "Gail," she said, with a nearly toothless, but nonetheless incredibly beautiful, smile. I told her my name was Meredith, and Evan introduced himself, as well. She thanked us, over and over again, even telling me she wished she could do something to repay me... wash my car, or something... I told her no need, but that I'd like to pray over her. She said she'd be offended if I didn't. So, I thanked the Lord for the blessing of Gail and the wisdom she had shared with us that day. I asked for His provision and protection for her and her grandsons. I asked Him to lead them in His holy light, always. After I said, "Amen," Miss Gail and I shared one final hug and said our goodbyes. In the car on the way home, Evan looked at me and said, "That was so heartwarming, Mom. I'll never forget this." Lesson learned.
Now, my lesson for those who actually made it to the end of this long, drawn-out post... You never know another's story until you've walked in their shoes. Before judging, consider the fact that you may have enjoyed an infinitely easier existence and opportunities not afforded to all. We were commanded to love our fellow humans, not tell them to, "go get a job or ask someone of their own 'kind'." Besides... You never know when Jesus will show up, in the form of "the least of these."