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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lady on the Corner

An incident that occurred at the beginning of last week, which had left me exceedingly upset, was still lingering. Leading me to look deep inside myself, provoking feelings of inadequacy and a discontentment with certain aspects of my life.

I got dressed quickly, gathered the baby, and headed to the store to pick him up some much needed items. While inside the store he fell asleep. So I decided to slowly cruise the aisles and let him grab a quick nap. Even the smallest of sounds seem to magnify when your child is sleeping, so I became ridiculously annoyed of any and every activity in the store. How dare you stock your shelves, can’t you see I have a sleeping baby here!!

I paid for my things and headed home. As I came to the entrance for the highway, up ahead I seen a pregnant woman on the corner holding a sign. I tried to read her sign, but passed too quickly and wasn’t able to read every word. I caught a glimpse of the words ‘kids and food’.

Remembering I had 5.00 in cash, I immediately turned my car around and handed her the money. As she approached the car, I was able to fully read her sign, ‘I have no job, I need food for two kids, and have no money for rent.’ I did not feel satisfied in giving her such a small amount. I went home rapidly gathering anything I could give her.

I returned and pulled into a parking space beside her car that most certainly had seen better days. I gave her a few bags of food, medicine, personal items, diapers, and formula. I had never met such a thankful soul. She strongly embraced me and whispered, ‘Jesus loves you, you know.’
I shook my head and replied with a smile, ‘Yes, I know.’ We parted ways and the happy feeling that comes from helping someone was not there. Although glad to help, I didn’t give her anything that wasn’t already given to me by the Lord. I was merely a vessel for his service.

What I did take from her was an invaluable lesson. The words spoken to my heart was not the usual tone of comfort and understanding. It was a resonance of reprehension and scolding. These are the words that filled my mind:

How dare you be so selfish. Rolling about in your self pity, losing sight of things I have provided for you. I give you a life of comfort and sufficiency, lacking of nothing and you are feeling dissatisfied? I bless you with two healthy children and a husband who is capable of providing for you all. I allow you to work at home, raising a family, where I assigned you the most important occupation a woman can have, and you feel there is greater job for you elsewhere? There is no better contribution you can give them. Have you forgotten of times past where there was no food or shelter? I give you all these things and you have the audacity to think you need something more. Do you not see this woman, seven months pregnant standing in the hot sun begging for food so that her children may eat?

I have to tell you, I felt ashamed. How could I forget a life of such struggle and strife? How could I forget the very essence of what it means to have a thankful heart? As I sat in the Church pew that following Sunday, my pastor quoted a verse. ‘Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.’ Philippians 4:11. He went on, “Learned. Being content is something that is learned. Sometimes, we have to learn it again and again.” He made the point about how having too many distractions can take our eyes off of what’s really important. He is right. I didn’t need anymore distractions that life can already throw at us. Clouding my vision of God’s everyday presence, and ignoring the purpose for which we were truly created for.

After service, my husband and I drove by to see if she would be there. But the only thing left was an empty water bottle situated on the curb where she had stood the day before. Regretfully, I didn’t get her name. I will probably never see her again. She will never know that in my eyes, she wasn’t the only one gaining something that day. We both fulfilled a need of one another. Watching someone in such a situation and still praising the Lord was truly a magnificent sight. I am thankful to have met such a grateful spirit. I am thankful to have met the lady on the corner.   

Written by: Melissa Reyes