I shared a joke with a homeless man yesterday.
My window was open (can you believe this weather?) as I pulled up next to the bus stop by the sketchy McDonald’s. There are always homeless people at this intersection, so it’s easy to just pass them by because if I gave them money every day I’d be broke.
I caught the red light and came to a stop right next to a few people sitting on milk crates holding cardboard signs. One tattooed man about my age looked over and said hello. Sighing inwardly, I reached into my purse and handed him a two dollars through the passenger side window. One bill was stained a deep blue, and I apologized. “Sorry, not sure why that one’s blue.”
“Probably was in a bank robbery. Or else a Smurf had it.”
I giggled. “Let’s go with that one.” He smiled at me and we shared a small moment of good old- fashioned human connection.
It caught me off guard. This man was someone’s brother. Someone’s son. He seemed so normal. He looked like he hadn’t been on the streets long. It made me wonder how he ended up out front of the sketchy McDonald’s holding a cardboard sign. What bad thing happened to him? Where was his family?
On Friday I went to the animal shelter and brought home a little guy who has already been through a lot in his short life. He was hit by a car and fractured both hips and his pelvis. As a result he may have issues later on in life with his colon that will not be operable. He kept getting passed by because he was considered “special needs”. I can’t afford to do long term medical care, but I figured I could give him a good home and then do the right thing for him if he ever did need to be put down. The director of the shelter told me he was hands-down the sweetest cat in the building, and when I told her I’d like to take him home, she almost cried. She said she would pay his adoption fee. Isn’t he adorable? He has a little limp, but he is a fighter. And a huge snuggler.
Life has a way of knocking us down sometimes. We all need a little help now and then. We need someone to take a chance on us or to give us a second chance. We need someone to tell us we’re still worth it.
It’s reassuring to know that God doesn’t only allow perfect people into his kingdom. We’d all be disqualified. He finds us right where we are…down and out as a result of our own mistakes or uncontrollable circumstances..and he wraps his arms around us and welcomes us to the family. He calls the broken beautiful and he helps us put the pieces back together.
We have to learn to treat people like God does. Not to resent it when people ask for help but to welcome the chance to bless others and show love. We are all God’s creatures and he loves each one of us from the “important” to the “lowly”.
Not only that, but we need to accept that God loves us. Right where we are. Broken as we may be. It’s why Christmas happened in the first place. God came to seek and save that which was lost.
He did it by sending Jesus to be born in a manger and to befriend and teach a lot of normal, broken people what true love really was. Forgiveness. Restoration.
I’m grateful to be counted among those that used to be helpless and hopeless. Used to be. No longer. Now it’s my turn to follow His example and extend that same hand of friendship and love to those around me. To tell people they’re worth it. Because they are.
P.S. My little friend’s name is C.J. It’s short for Christmas Jones. I will sometimes call him Jonesy. Don’t judge me.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.~ Luke 19:20