I’m not talking about the sickeningly sweet couple who giggles at eachother and licks whipped cream off of eachother’s noses, or the couple who can’t keep their hands out of eachother’s back pockets nor tongues out of eachother’s throats.
Although I could–because they have a lot to show us about love too…. so maybe I’ll take a mental not of that.
but I’m talking about the kind of love that is legitimately kind. that isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, doesn’t keep records of wrongs, protects, HOPES, and trusts, doesn’t judge and isn’t easily angered.
The kind that I saw demonstrated the other day.
The kind that sees someone begging for money, and gives what money he has on him. In the meantime, drivers in neighbouring cars literally turned up their noses in disgust that he had given money to this vagrant who, “probably only wanted the money for drugs or booze anyways”
Indeed–your choice to love this homeless person in a simple way offended those around you. But you didn’t just give him the change you had on you–you asked how he was doing today, and if there was anything more he wanted that you could help him with.
And now that I’m telling the world about what you did, there will be myriads more who are offended by your choice to love. There will be those who believe he was underserving of your life, because “he must have brought it on himself” (see my recent post on mercy)
There will be those who have a passion for social justice who see your actions as well-intentioned, but misguided and thus enabling him and worsening the societal problems at large.
There will be those who are not at all passionate about social justice, but have simply rationalized their choice to look the other way by telling themselves that anything they give any homeless person will just be used for drugs and booze.
But the reality is– you gave because you see a human being who has been hurt and broken enough by life to stand in the cold and in the rain and beg for the mercy of humanity to sustain you.
and yeah… maybe he was on drugs. maybe he was ‘jonesing’ maybe he was collecting money for another hit, or another bottle. and maybe the money you gave him will be what it takes for him to get another drink that will numb the pain enough for him to be able to bear the demons that first drove him to drink in the first place.
and maybe the money will buy a loaf of bread and he’ll bring it home to his children.
Or maybe it will help him to buy bus fare to get to his brother’s house a few cities away…
but at the end of the day….
We don’t know, and it’s not ours to judge. In that moment, when you don’t have the time to do much more, you had a choice. You could either ignore him entirely, or demonstrate Christ’s love for him– a love that meets each of us where we are at–and doesn’t demand change first, but loves *first*.
I’m not going to pretend that enabling isn’t a real thing–of course, it is… But I’m saying that the choice to love with no strings attached is very Christlike… and very countercultural– it takes humility, and courage, and compassion. And I loved seeing you make that choice. I love your kindness.
Is this the final solution to homelessness and poverty in our society? of course not! There is a great deal more needed! and I know you probably know that.
But this post isn’t about homelessness, or social justice programs, or the alternatives to “handouts”. Those are all important things too.
But you saw a person whose dignity has been all but entirely lost–however that may have come to be, and you have given them what you had–kindness-the dignity of looking into their eyes–talking to them, and the dignity of trusting them to spend the money you hand out to them how they see fit.
Your love and compassion is beautiful.
And what you may not have had the opportunity to see is that a driver behind you rolled her eyes at you. Then her son in the backseat pointed at you and presumably asked what was going on… and then she drummed her fingers on her steering wheel for a moment–and then reached out and offered the individual something as well.
Your love and compassion was infectious. Your love and compassion inspired a disposition of kindness and grace in another.
May you find yourself loved and extended kindness to you when you most need it, and may love and compassion overflow into your life!