I got up and out of the house fairly early this morning to run a few errands, then went in to Austin to have lunch with a client. On the way home I called to check in on Jase and the kids. Ty answered the phone and sounded down in the dumps. He’s had a really hard time this week with my mom leaving, his teacher mentioned he’d been quiet for a few days and all his friends were busy doing other things today. He was just feeling down. We chatted for a few minutes and then got off the phone. I called back a few minutes later and told him to get dressed, I was going to swing by an pick him up to take him out shooting. he was instantly excited. First we decided to go scouting locations and then hit the library….I’ve been wanting to do some photos of him surrounded by books because of his intense love of reading at this age. Georgetown has a much better public library, with tons of huge windows so we went out that way, stopping at Georgetown lake along the way. We had a good time, hiking the trails and going down to the lookout. It was totally gorgeous, yet windy, we even had some wind resistance ((snicker)). I edited these with Kristy Lane’s new presets…..they are devine……I was lucky enough to do some testing for her and just love them!
after shooting at the lake, then the library, we decided to stop at the grocery store before heading home to pick up a few things for dinner and some milk. I got out of the car and opened the back gate window of our SUV to dig out my purse. I saw someone approaching out of the corner of my eye and turned to look. The sun was bright and all I could see coming toward me was a large man, a silhouette, so I lifted my hand to guard my eyes from the sun. Just then I began to hear what he was saying to me. “…..I’m hungry”. My very first instinct was to say no. I’m sorry. I don’t have any cash on me. And that is what I did, before even thinking. It wasn’t until he turned to walk away that the look in his eyes sunk in to me. He was an older man wearing a full backpack, dirty, with a long beard. I stood there a minute, watching him walk away, and I considered calling him back. I had lied. I had $5 in my pocket, and I never, ever carry cash with me, never. But I hadn’t told him the truth. I had followed that first reaction, that defensive notion. By the time I thought about it, he was all the way across the parking lot, and I was still standing in that same place. And it was then that I turned to see Ty standing there, his eyes full of questions, but he didn’t ask any of them. I just told him that I had lied to the man, that he was hungry, asking for help, that I had let my defenses take over and how badly I felt about that. That I wished I had said or done something different. We turned to walk in to the store and we chatted about it some more. We talked about how people become homeless, a series of choices, addictions, mental illness. Ty asked questions and it was then that I realized that I hadn’t given him the $5 or offered to buy him something to eat because I was afraid of what his intent was. And I realized his intent doesn’t matter. What was my intent? To do the right thing? To help someone? To be a good example? I could have accomplished all of those things in one easy gesture, instead of damaging my own spirit. So what if he took that $5 and bought drugs with it, or lord knows what else. Would I have ever known? Would it have changed my intent? Would it have hurt me to give him the $5? Would it have helped him? Would it have taught my son watching ever so intently a valuable lesson of kindness and tolerance? I missed it. I missed the opportunity to help someone right in front of me. The look in the old mans eyes was not one of a panhandler out for a quick buck…but a look of hunger and desperation. But my defense popped up before I could even read that from him. It must feel awful to be hungry. Ty and I talked about that too. Once inside we decided we would buy a meal, a sandwich pack, with chips, cookies and a drink from the deli and then try to give it to him when leaving. And that is what we did. Only we couldn’t find him. We drove around the parking lot, looking on the sides and back, in the shopping center next to the store, we drove around and around for at least 15 minutes and never found him. So we came home with the sandwich pack. And I wish I had handled it differently. I wish I had been a better person. For my son. I hope that him seeing me try to make it right matters. I hope that if he has the chance to help someone, that he takes it, despite the horrible example I showed him today. And I hope the old man came across someone with a more open heart than mine.
Even though you have regrets about your initial reaction, I still think you got to show Ty something valuable. The discussion you had with him about what happened, buying the meal, and looking for the man will probably stick in Ty’s mind longer than if you had just handed the man a $5 bill when he first approached you…
Oh my gosh. First, thank you for saying that about my presets. You are so sweet:)
Second, what an awesome post. I needed it. We all do I think. I would have done the same thing you did. But now I know…
You’re one heck of a mom, my friend.
Lyndsay, you have such a good heart. I literally am wiping tears off my eyes with my dress (yes, I am at work right now) listening to your story, but knowing I would have probably done the same thing. I am very weary of strangers, and very scared of being attacked after an incident in college. So I know I would have done the same thing, but I love that you and Ty went in and bought him the meal and made the effort, I think that matters most. thanks for sharing with us…
Thanks for posting this. It’s something I’ve really struggled with for a long time, but I come to the same realization about giving. Giving is for me- it’s a reflection of the condition of my heart & not about what the recipient does with the gift. God calls on us to be generous to all people, and we will answer to him for that. It’s not for us to be judge of others on how the spend the gift. I still struggle with being more generous and judging people I give money to, but I’m working on it. Great post & I hope that many people are impacted by you sharing your story.
We we lived in Denver, Jon and I started this thing were sometimes, usually on Sundays, we go to Wendy’s and buy five or ten 99-cent cheeseburgers. Then we drive around and hand them out to all the homeless people we can find. Just thought I’d throw that idea out there for the next time you’re running errands and the opportunity presents itself. 🙂
thank you all for your words, i appreciate them.
shannon, that rocks, i’d love to do that with ty.
Lyndsay, I have tears in my eyes reading this story because I, like many others I am sure, have been in that situation before. We do instinctly defend ourselves in such a quick manner. And I most always have guilt turning people away. And its weird talking about his eyes and what you saw there. Over the weekend I was exiting a freeway waiting at the light and there was a man standing there with those eyes. I honestly didn’t have a cent on me, but I found it very difficult sitting there watching him and wondering. And you’re right. We will never know what they do with the money we give them. But we can give with a good heart and say a prayer that it will go towards nourishment or the like. I remember my mom coming pack with a meal for people. You DID set a good example for Ty by so many actions that folllowed that moment. There is no doubt.
debbie, you are right. i just have to wonder, and question myself, that if we have good in us, why do we fight it?