Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Rant

Any time I come to work before 9:00 (which only seems to happen on the days I have class) it never fails that there is a homeless man (and it isn't always the same homeless man) at the end of the exit ramp. This morning as I drove by, the man looked at me, cocked his head, shrugged his shoulders, and gave me the most pitiful look as I saw him mouth, "Com'on!" I don't know why this upset me so much. I had no cash. I never carry cash.

I did a lot of work with the homeless of Nashville when I was at Lipscomb. I know the reasons that so many of them are homeless. Some are there because they simply want to be. Others hit some hard luck. Still others are on the run from the police. And I also know that something like 70% of the homeless in the US have mental problems and would/could be productive citizens if they were able to either afford or somehow receive medication for their illness. I'm not naive.

I don't carry cash, as I said before. I don't like to carry cash. Used to, I would keep McDonald's gift certificates in my car and hand them out to the homeless that were asking for money, but I haven't done that in a long time because I haven't been running into many homeless people in a long time, I guess I need to start doing that again.

But back to my rant......I'm not afraid to look a homeless man or woman in the eye. I do it all the time. I drove by and smiled at this man this morning. I didn't offer him a "haha...I'm better than you, loser," smile, but my nicest smile. My, "I'm sorry I don't have any cash but I still think you're a valuable person" smile. But, you know what, he made me feel guilty. And that's why I'm upset.

Some of these guys are simply con artists. You can make a decent living out of begging for money....and if you stop and speak to them and tell them, "I won't give you cash, but I'll take you to get something to eat..." they'll turn you down. Every time. I know because I've done it, and only one time did someone actually take me up on it. And that pisses me off. I don't like to be taken.

But you know, this guy could have been different. He could have been that one person that would have taken me up on the offer to run him down to McDonald's and pay for his breakfast. But my logical brain says that, more than likely, he wasn't.

I don't know what the purpose of this post was. I'm upset. I'm upset because he tried to make me feel guilty and I'm upset that I believe it's my responsibility as a Christian to do things for people because it's what Jesus would have done. And I'm upset because social situations make being Christ-like difficult. I would never be comfortable picking up a homeless man or woman and driving them anywhere, especially when I'm alone.....because I don't know what they may or may not have hidden and that would put me at a huge risk.

*sigh* I guess I need to invest in some more McDonald's gift certificates.

5 Comments:

At 11:42 AM, Blogger CL said...

I used to always ask, "Can I buy you some food?" Actually I have had great success with that, but some say no. It seems to be a good approach. But I have had Jesus words stuck in my crawl the last four months " I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty...." I have struggled with this as well, I just keep coming back to knowing that:

1- God, you are the judge, my heart speaks to what my intentions are.
2- I will feed the hungry, the thirsty and bascially be Jesus hands and feet, because I love Jesus and he loves me, in turn I do love others - after that I don't have to "know" what will happen with what I give.

I hate to look at it and say "I've done my part," but sometimes I do, but the heart of the matter is love - do I love and do because He did?
Tough questions, I don't have great answers sorry for the ramble. I appreciate your heart here. Blessings!

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Tammy M. said...

This is surely a dilemma we have all thought about. How can we help? Would giving them cash hurt? Like you, I don't always have cash on me, so I don't have that easy resource to hand out my window. One of my good friends had a couple 1 gallon clear ziploc bags in her car. I asked her about it and she said that the children's program at her church, Highland CofC, made bags to give to the homeless. They were filled with easy open foods, snacks, things that wont melt and dont need to be cooked, a bottle of water, m and m's, phone numbers of local places that could be of service to them, and a prayer or scripture telling them they are loved by God. I loved this idea. I told our children's minister about it, and just last week I saw a number of kids with the ziploc bags walking around. It is a great way for us as adults and the children to help out. We certainly have to find ways to be relevant and to serve people who are not in our comfort zones. I loved what a Beth Moore video said from Jesus the One and Only, Our churches are "too pretty" to reflect the true ministry of Jesus. Ofcourse this isn't true of every church, I know that there are many people whose hearts and bodies are in the trenches serving the poor and broken, but alot of others in our communities need to search out and serve those who hunger for God's mercy and grace. Sorry I got off on a tangent, that has been on my heart alot lately.

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

It is one thing to drive by homeless people and do nothing. It is quite another to minister to homeless through programs you know to be effective and then drive by the one at the off ramp.

I know you. You don't need to feel guilty. I bet your anger comes from the wrestling between the mind that knows you aren't guilty and the heart that worries about everyone.

Tony

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger Debi said...

I also have struggled with this one. I've never thought of the McDonalds gift certificates - great idea!

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Lori Ann said...

My husband and I always say "this is Gods money" as I hand a dollar or whatever to them. I have decided that it is better to give than worry if I am being taken.
Our teens spend one wednesday night a month in downtown Portland handing out bags with easy open food. They are always blessed and happy when they return.
You are right about the smile. I like what you said about giving dignity to a person.
Of course we all know these things, we just get frustrated. Human nature.

 

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