Between who you are and who you could be

Thank you, Henry Petty, for stepping in as today’s guest writer. You are a lifesaver!

One of my favorite songs by Switchfoot is entitled, “Dare You To Move.” My favorite line in the song is:

The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Since Lent started, I’ve done a complete 180° on how I handle being approached by the homeless and giving to the needy.  There is a lot of tension when you’re being approached by a homeless person or drifter on your way to lunch or just trying to get by.  I previously had the mindset that they need to seek shelter or that they’re using donations for drugs and alcohol. My normal response is either to ignore them, or tell them, “I don’t have any cash on me.”  This was often met by angry stares or grumbles, and I’d carry on as I was. 

Now, I carry extra $1 bills in my pocket just in case somebody asks for help.  I also carry change in case somebody’s parking meter has run out of time, to help them avoid a ticket. While the drivers are most likely not homeless, I just don’t like how the meter lady looks at me with those glares and don’t want them to get ticketed either, and it’s just something nice to do.

It’s not my place to judge whether homeless people are using the money for drugs & alcohol or if they legitimately need it.  It has been more gratifying (and easier) for me to just give a couple of dollars when it’s asked of me than to ignore them or tell them a fib so they’ll leave me alone.

This new outlook has resulted in some interesting exchanges.  One person told me, “That’s what I love about McDonald’s; two dollars still buys you a good meal.”  Another gentleman asked me for 50 cents, but I gave them a dollar.  He asked me, “Why’d you give me a dollar if I asked for fifty cents?”  I replied, “Because I don’t have change.”  His eyes welled up, and he said, “You’re crazy, man!” 

My heart is fuller of joy than it ever has been, and I don’t miss those dollars or cents at all.  I can still have that surgery if I need it.  Since this change, I’ve become a person I could be and perhaps should be.

For more from Henry, check out his blog!

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