Keep The Change
So today I found myself needing a little air. I have been knee deep in editing since last week and the time buried in my work was sorely needed after I found my efforts to help someone very much unappreciated… again.
You would think that because it has happened to me so many times in my life, that it wouldn’t bother me so much. Most times it does not. But most times I have a pretty good hedge of love that surrounds me and encourages me in what I do. That is what our circle of friends are for.
But the past few years have been a little like Jesus in the wilderness. All the people I invested so much of my love and attention in have grown up, moved away, or have decided to be so stuck on stupid that the only way for them to grow up is to back off and allow them to learn the hard way. It is as difficult to do for a friend who loves you as it is for a parent. Nevertheless, pearls and swine don’t mix. You choose the mud and I am backing off with my gifts.
The best thing about the spirit is that it always provides an oasis amid the desert. Usually in the form of that one faithful friend who happens to be around and prepared to catch you when you fall. And it isn’t necessarily the same friend each time. But the one who was faithful to listen when their spirit called them to task.
That is one of the reasons why I never ignore when someone’s name is called to my mind. I have two friends who are like that. One intuitively calls the same way I do and makes their presence known even understanding that I will likely not call back for days or even a week, but feels content in having followed their spirit. The other is only getting used to that kind of spiritual accountability but keeps the widest arms of compassion open because they realize how easily an unprotected heart can be wounded. Without either really knowing it, they have been my primary caregivers over the past few years, enabling me to recover and get back to duty.
So, today, still recovering from the last kick in my heart, I read this in the local online classifieds:
Needing a little help
Hello, I am a mother of 4 beautiful children. I do work full time and never ask for help. BUT I recently moved out of a bad neighborhood due to all the shootings and wanted a safer place for my kids. By doing so this has made me short for groceries and gas to get to work.. I should be able to get caught up next month but if anyone could help me with some groceries and gas card or even fill my car up. I have a Ford Fushion so not expensive to fill up.. Thanks and god bless. I will help someone else when I get on my feet. Have a great weekend everyone.
I know I know… I can’t help myself. But it is in my DNA. Always has been.
So I replied:
- Has anyone responded to you yet?
- How old are your kids?
- Are there any food allergies or things they definitely will not eat?
- Without specifics, what do you currently do for a living that has you coming up short?
And she wrote back:
- No not yet..
- Kids are 4, 5, 15 and 17
- No food allergies they are good eaters.
- I work for usps. I am not a career carrier so I don’t make as much as those carriers. I pay 1180 in rent a month, pay for daycare weekly for my 2 younger kids and don’t get any kind of assistance. I don’t qualify for assistance for food or daycare assistance. I was recently sick and lost some time at work. Where me and my kids lived there was some shootings so I decided for their safety to move. In doing so to have a safer place for my kids but I am financially short. I work from 730 to usually 4 or 5 Mon thru Saturday so once I’m caught up this month then I will be back on track.
And I replied:
Thanks for the honest reply. I grew up in the projects back east with a single mom after her divorce so I am always mindful when a mom, who is really trying, needs help andI have made it a point to answer these calls for help wherever I can.
There is a gas station with a car wash near me. If you give me a time to meet you there, I will fill up your gas tank and also have some groceries for you to take home.
Wow really Thank you so much. I can meet anytime today after 1pm or Friday morning before 10. I had to take off work due to 2 sick toddlers so I’m off all day today.
And I replied:
Let me take a break from my work and get some things together for you. Do you have a number I can text you when I am ready to meet you. That way we can get you taken care of and I can get back to my work. I’d say sometime close to 2pm.
She sent me her number and I got myself together and headed to the store. Now, mind you, a lot of things I was going to give to her I already had because I tend to shop sales and stay prepared year round to help families in need. When more of my friends lived near, a lot of the people I helped were their kids or friends of their kids. It’s what I saw my mama do my whole life, only, her gift with my mind is very much multiplied with what I have been able to do with very little money.
It has always brought me joy as I marveled to listen to my spirit as it taught me what store to go into and there is an unadvertised sale on chicken for 29 cents a pound or ground beef for 99 cents a pound. Were it not for that kind of leading, I could never afford to do what I do. But each time it serves as a reaffirmation that I am doing the right thing and I have been blessed with friends who have born witness to these incredible blessings who have sown into my ability to help others and together we have celebrated what the true tithe and offering is.
As I buzzed in and out of each store keeping her kid’s ages in mind, the fact that two were sick, and that they did really need to eat healthy, It sure felt good to not feel hardened by last weeks’ kick in the teeth.
I don’t play when it comes to shopping. I know the layout like a NASCAR track and I always head to the pit stop on time. I finished up at 15 til 2 and sent this woman a text as I headed home to get the items from the freezer I was going to add to it.
No answer, No voicemail.
Sent an email reply.
Checked for her online post.
It was gone.
I felt absolutely ill.
Just then one of my friends emailed me and asked how I was doing. I told her what was going on at the moment to which she replied:
That is awful..maybe something happened with her…I know this may be too much to ask but wait a little while longer to see if she calls back…but if she purposely did this then she is an unscrupulous person. I’m really sorry to hear this because you r genuinely try to help someone only to have your time wasted…and to be honest I believe she shud av been watching her phone to see when you would call because you told her the time u would av been available. This is truly hurtful…I understand the damp on ur faith in humanity….
You don’t deserve any of this. I really hope she shows up.
Inside I was just numb.. like “here we go again.”
An eternity of 10 minutes passed when my email buzzed with a hastily written message from the woman letting me know that she missed my calls struggling to get the 2 sick toddlers ready and that she did not have a headset so she could not drive and answer. I also suspected that maybe her phone bill was past due because a lot of services block outgoing calls but will still allow your phone to ring. She likely connected her phone to WiFi to send me the email. Even so, I was calmed from thinking about what I would have to do with the food I purchased.
I ran up to the gas station. She waved and I said “let’s get your tank filled first”. She told me her neighbor filled up her tank so that was one thing I did not have to do.
But I think the three things that shocked her was, between what I already had and the sales I ran into, I gave her close to 20 bags of groceries, and that she was white, and it all came from a black man. She was close to tears when I kept handing her more and more bags. Having myself, been in that position many times as a father, I wanted to make sure she would not have to shop for this month.
The two sick kids were in the back seat hungry. Everything she needed nutritionally to get them through their sickness and back to a healthy appetite was in those bags. She gave me a big hug and said now she could take them home and feed them proper.
She still looked in shock as she drove off.
It all reminded me of a similar thing that happened to me several years back when a man showed up with his family and I gave him cash for gas to get to his new job and groceries for his family.
He had racist tattoos on his arms and he was stunned because on the phone he thought I was white. His wife came inside to pick up the last bag while he was getting them secured in the back of the pickup. She hugged me so hard and just wept my shoulder til it was soaked.
When I went back outside to shake his hand, he pulled me to him and gave me a hug and his eyes were wet as well. You never know who you change with a random act of kindness.
When I got back home, there was an email from a friend. The subject was Remember. The content was a link to a song by Garth Brooks she had heard me sing. The video was from a year ago. It is a unique experience to be ministered by one’s own experiences.
After the song fell silent, I began to realize that it was not the situations that got to me, but it is the toxicity of America that we have been forced to breathe over these past years and especially leading up to this election.
America has entered into a dark place that is causing things that we would otherwise be more than capable of enduring to start to come apart. It is all the more reason that we of light must stand fast in fellowship to the bonds we share instead on the religious brands we wear.
The one thing about light is that its source of power follows the same principles of physics regardless of the name on the company providing the energy. Just as no nation has a monopoly on good, no religion has a monopoly on God. All wisdom comes from the same source.
And so does love.
Thanks to the friends who reminded me today along with the others who encouraged me over the past week:
As long long as one heart still holds on
Then hope is never really gone
And I hear them saying,
“You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do
It’s still the same thing”
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so, this world we know
Never changes me
What I do is so, this world will know
That it will not change me
-From Garth Brooks | The Change