Monday, August 16, 2010

Rich Man, Poor Man

I planned this post to be about my fabulous weekend that included my return to the stage, but that post will have to wait. Today, I had a moment that shook me to my core. It was a simple moment but a heart-breaking one.



It is easy for me to feel poor. I have a LOT of debt. I live in a small apartment. We depend on ancient vehicles that are held together with scotch tape and prayer. (A tremendous amount of prayer.) Our savings account is often rivaled by our children's piggy banks. There are many things that I do not have. Many things that I will never have. If I allow myself, I can feel poor.

But today, I sat at red light. A red light with a handsome man. A man about my age. A man without a home. I don't think that he has walked the streets long. While his clothes and hair were dirty and shaggy, they reflected a reasonable proximity to a more successful past.

I was a lane over and a few cars back as I debated whether to dig out change and offer it to him. And then the light changed. And cars started to move. So I started to move. And I drove off.

I could have gone back. I didn't. Instead. I cried for a few moments and then went on with my day. A day that was centered around Back-to-School shopping. Shopping. Because the reality is this. Yes, I need coupons to make ends meet. And yes, I buy many things second-hand. But I have never known more than a moment's hunger. The only nights I have spent outside the comfort of a bed involved a tent and a campfire. In other words. I am SO not poor.

The point of this post is not about my financial score card. Or that man's either. I have no idea how he got there. My mom always says, "there but by the grace of God goes I". So by the grace of God, I drove by and he stood. And what good did my tears do? They did him no good. I did him no good. Some Samaritan I am.

My husband and I often debate what to do when we see a panhandler. I sometimes give. He does not. The same dynamic is repeated in my parents. My mom does. My dad does not. I honestly don't know what is the right choice. I just know that I can still see him in my mind and as I prepare for bed, I fear I made the wrong choice by making no choice. I wonder where he will lie his head tonight. For even as I lay my head on my pillow, my head and heart are heavy. Very, very heavy,

11 comments:

F said...

I don't give but I did volunteer at our church where we did a weekly thing where we gave free clothes to whomever shows up. I haven't done that in about a year. The need lives on though. Its hard. So hard.

The Ninja said...

I don't give money, but I often do give clothes or food when I see someone on the streets.

chitra said...

You wrote that incident quite well. It moved me too.
I think we must count our blessings and thanks Gos for the same.

Tired Mom T├ęsa said...

It is always so hard to know the right thing to do. I always want to give but there are times I don't and then I question why. I'm like you and while I feel financially unstable quite often, there's always change in the cupholders of our cars or rattling at the bottom of my purse. Why not use it to allow others the opportunity to order off the $1 menu at McDonalds?

Unknown Mami said...

You are financially challenged. You are not poor.

Connie W said...

I understand what you're saying.

Our financial circumstances have changed recently and I'm struggling with the changes. I miss my big house and my kitchen. A yard for my kids to play in...

But I know these are temporary circumstances and we're making sacrifices so that our future can be better.

I feel badly for those people that didn't make adjustments in time and are now without homes, and incomes.

I pray that I'm never one of them.

blueviolet said...

I generally give food or a hot cup of coffee or cocoa. I don't give money. You're not a bad person. Don't be so hard on yourself!

Tiffany said...

I think it's easy to say that homeless people are lazy or deserve it in someway...when just like you said "by the grace of God" it could be us...

Melissa B. said...

A touching post. We all need to count our blessings, correctamundo?

Melani said...

I dunno, I get mixed emotions when I see someone with a sign that says I am homeless and hungry. If you give them money they will probably go and get drunk, but if you buy them food then they can actually eat, which they probably don't want to do...I pray for them, that is what I do.

I am also financially in the hole. We have a house, that my parents own, but we pay the mortgage, but not the extra 200 bucks a month for insurance... my husband works full time so I can stay at home with the kids, I babysit 2 other kids to help make ends meet, since my X-husband is such a ummm poor excuse for a dad, he doesn't pay child support adn then we do pay child support for my husbands daughter....I hate our financial state right now, so I pray.

Sara said...

Thank God that you and me are not that person standing on the red light!Great blog!