Today I met a beautiful woman. Quiet and soft spoken and yet determined. Physically attractive with a beautiful smile and attention to detail. "Sue" called me and told me she was in need of some winter clothing and she needed something for her court appearance tomorrow. During our phone conversation I found out that she was homeless and staying for a few days in a hotel so that she can make her court date about the fate of her young son. Coming from LA she was not prepared for the cold weather.
I picked her up halfway and took her to the Bus Boutique were she found some wonderful things. She wasn't greedy, just took what she needed for the next few days.
As we were talking she told me a little about her story. She got evicted from her place because of foreclosure and the person collecting her rent pocketed the money. She moved to a bigger city to find better work and worked several odd jobs while living in transitional housing with her son. But she worked too hard and ended up in the hospital from exhaustion with her son going into the foster care system. The court wants to give the son back, but she is homeless and without a job.
As I am writing this she will be seeing her son for the first time in 4 months... and she can't even take him 'home'.
Even if only half of the story is true, it struck me at the core. How do we help people in a situation like this? How do we empower people when they are at the bottom? We talked about the mission and the homeless shelter, we talked about finding a job, we talked about Love INC., and being safe on the street. She said "I just got stuck in the middle."
As I dropped of 'Sue' at the hotel, I asked if I could pray for her and my prayer for her was that God would reveal Himself in a special way, open doors that might seem impossible to budge, help her take the right steps and get in touch with the right people.
Even as we we were praying I realize that I am not God! (duh) No matter how hard I try to fix the ills of this world... there will always be more problems. But God! He can put things back into perspective and do the miraculous things that make us stand in awe... and yes, he does use you and me to be part of the process.
Yesterday I was at a store and a woman came up and asked if I could spare any of the food... and I have to admit, I said no. Not because I could not spare it but because I don't want to give people a 'hand out'. As I drove away I wondered if I was wrong. Now today, after meeting "Sue" I realized I should have been more compassionate, take to time to hear her story. Maybe I still would not have given her anything, but at least she would not have been alone in the dark parking lot last night.
So, my lesson for today: look them in the eye, find out their name, get to know their story and be available for God to use you in a certain way.