Driving around today while I did errands, much like I always do, I saw a number of people standing on different corners, with makeshift signs, looking for money or other types of resources. I tend to be a giver toward specific programs, unless God urges me to give to a specific person at that moment. But I was reminded of an incident I saw last week while pulling out of the parking lot of my local big-box store.
I saw an individual sitting on the ground with a sign, and possibly a small pet, near the exit of the lot, waiting for passersby to perhaps part with a donation that would suit. I watched as most cars proceeded without stopping. Then, the vehicle in front of me slowed, and tossed out what appeared to be some item in a wrapper. The person with the sign slowly made their way over and plucked it from the ground as the driver roared off. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I drove past and saw the person look at the item, shuffle back to their pile of goods nearby and place it with the other things they could call their own.
Immediately I felt a sense of sadness and disbelief. Whatever this person’s challenges are in this life, whether you give them something or not, they are still a person and deserve their dignity and respect. It can’t be easy to sit hour after hour, hoping someone gives money or some resource to you, because for whatever reason the resources available to you aren’t cutting it. And if they are struggling with drugs or mental illness, they need treatment, and at the very least our prayers for safety and that the resources they need do become available. But throwing something at someone, even if it is in the name of charity, is dishonoring. It robs them of whatever self-respect they may have left. It’s how we treat stray animals, not people.
As we work on our recovery issues, we grasp the fact that God is restoring us. He loved us, even when we were spiritually bankrupt, standing there with little more than a small pack and a handmade sign. But God didn’t throw His precious gifts of love, grace or recovery at us in a disrespectful or dishonoring way. He loved us, showed us grace and called us out. Maybe there were people praying for us to find our way. As recovering, restored souls, can we too follow His example of love and grace? Not just by talking a good game, but by our respect and honor to others, and in that way show whose we are?
Truly food for thought. For us ALL.