I was yelled at by a homeless man this morning. Full throttle anger, and I can’t say that I blame him. I carry water, protein bars and devotionals in my Jeep at all times. But for the grace of God go I, and for as long as I can remember, they have held a place in my heart; their plight makes me anxious, unhinged….barely able to breath through my sorrow.
After shopping at Giant, I noticed a man sitting on a bench, next to a gym. My golden retriever looked at me as if to say: DO SOMETHING. I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed the goods and proceeded towards the man, approaching him with caution.
“Hey bud, uh, how are you doing today? I brought you a snack and………………..” he cut me off before I could finish my sentence.
“But you SHOULDN”T HAVE. I like to sit here and do my crossword puzzle. I already had a snack and I am FINE. It’s time to move on…….”
The alcohol coming from his breath, his dirty, wretched clothing, his body odor….all clear signs of need. I have a strong background in social services, and I know the schizophrenia rate is very high among the homeless population. I wanted to say something, anything to comfort him-give him a respite from day to day abominations.
He then did something I didn’t expect. He touched my arm and whispered, “You’re a nice lady.” And so I left him, but not with his dignity in tact. We must ensure they are respected, cared for, prayed for and loved-without hurting their pride, or injuring their souls. Will I give up on my ministry? No. Will I think twice before offering a drink and devotional to the least of these? Yes. But I will pray for God’s guidance and will, in hopes that I bring momentary love to a life so clearly bereft of compassion.