31 Grace-full Days: Day 9 – The homeless woman

She stands at the corner outside of Costco in Laguna Niguel. Recently I have been stopping there for gas on my way to San Diego for work. She is there every day that I’m there. I believe she is really homeless.

I’m a cynic. Typically when I see people begging on the street I wonder if they are lazy, mentally ill or if this is their chosen profession. I realize it’s not very kind or compassionate. I hesitate to ever give them money because I am pretty sure they will just go spend it on drugs or alcohol.

Yesterday, as I sat behind two other cars waiting to turn the corner, I watched her. Her shirt is dirty, as if it’s been worn every day for a very long time. Her jeans hang loosely. Her skin is tan and weathered from being out in the sun day after day. She has a bag, and a super size drink sitting next to her. I wonder if she bought it herself or if someone gave it to her.

I see her shift her eyes away from me. She adjusts her shirt the way I would adjust my shirt to be sure it’s straightened out and covering properly. I wonder if she is ashamed. She is clearly self-conscious, but hungry enough to beg. I wonder where she sleeps at night. I wonder who stops and gives her money and who drives by like I did.

I find that I too want to avert my eyes, self-conscious for staring at  her. I want to look her in the eyes, but if I do what will happen if I just keep on driving?

I wish I knew what she would do with the money, if I ever gave her some. I guess it’s control coming out again. I want to tell her what to do with the gift I would give her. Would she buy a nourishing meal? Would she inject drugs into her veins? Would she buy the biggest, cheapest bottle of vodka and chug it down? Does it matter?

She’s a human being. She has a name. What would happen if I stopped, said hello, gave her money or a meal and didn’t worry about what she did with it? It wouldn’t make her situation any different I don’t think. It would however, acknowledge her humanity and after all, isn’t that the deepest longing of all of our hearts? We want to matter to someone.

I read Psalm 41 this morning which The Message paraphrases beautifully:

Dignify those who are down on their luck; you’ll feel good – that’s what God does.

So next time I need some fuel for my car, I think I will stop and say hello and offer what I can to acknowledge and “dignify” her humanity. Perhaps I’ll ask her her name. She deserves to be known.

In the economy of God, really we are no different than she is. We all are ragamuffins, down on our luck, without the ability to save ourselves. We are 100% dependent on the grace of Jesus Christ. We may clean up pretty well and present ourselves as respectable, but the truth is, we are all unable to clean up what’s on the inside without Him.

My Grace-full pause: Everyone needs to feel they matter to someone. Who will I touch today and let them know they matter to me?

This post is installment #9 of a 31 day writing challenge.  You can read the rest of my posts here:

Day oneDay twoDay three, Day four, Day five, Day sixDay sevenDay eight

2 Comments on “31 Grace-full Days: Day 9 – The homeless woman

  1. Hmmm…tears on this post! I matter! Thanks! And more importantly, the human dignity piece is a great perspective!!

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