Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don’t Hug The Homeless

One cold evening earlier this month, my parents came up to bring something that I’d left at their house. We decided to grab dinner at The Spaghetti Warehouse, so we bundled up Levi (and ourselves) and headed that way. In our city, The Spaghetti Warehouse is located smack dab in the center of downtown.

Now, when you envision downtown, you usually think of sky scrapers lit from the streets to the moon, the roar of traffic and honking vehicles, couples on dates walking with arms linked to and from their destinations, music playing on the street corners from local musicians trying to make their way. You may even think of fine dining and the sound of high-heeled executives running to a business dinner, or of stores blaring lively music to lure you in, vending carts of hot dogs, and street shops with current magazines and hot coffee. The harmony of the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis encompasses most downtown areas.

But not in my city.

In my city, downtown is not the place to be. It’s dead. The only time the streets see any action in the evenings is if there is a concert at the local convention center. After 5 o’clock, the whole place becomes desolate and it’s as if you’ve stepped into a Wild West ghost town. Everything locks up and darkness envelops the streets.

And when darkness envelops the streets, you know what that means….

the homeless come out to play.

So naturally, we found this to be the perfect place to take our baby on a cold winter’s night.

As we pulled into the dimly lit restaurant, Husby began taking Levi out of the car. I waited behind them and as I turned around to check things out across the street, I noticed a man walking towards us.

“Um, excuse me, Sir,” he said.

“HUSBY! HUSBY! TURN AROUND!!!” I whispered as quietly yet harshly as I could.

“I’m hungry. Can you help me out?” he asked Husby.

“Sorry, Man. I don’t have anything,” Husby replied.

By this time, I’m nervously talking to Levi and trying to get out of the situation. If you know my Husby, you will know that EVERY HOMELESS PERSON ON PLANET EARTH has approached him in his lifetime, and he usually gives them a few bucks.

But this time, he really didn’t have a few bucks. After all, we were eating with my parents!

Mom and Dad made it out of their car and walked toward us. The homeless man looks at Dad and says, “Hi Sir, I’m an Indian from _____. I’m hungry and I really like spaghetti.”

That’s all Mom had to hear.

I saw the wheels spinnin’. I saw the look in her eye.

My mom is a sucker for the needy.

“Oh dears”, I whispered to Husby.

Mom scurried to open her purse, and grabbed her wallet. Out came a twenty dollar bill. She crumpled it in her hands and approached the meek little man.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m very hungry. I really like spaghetti.” he replied.

“Then take this,” she said as she handed him the $20. “I am giving you this in the name of Jesus Christ. He says to feed the hungry and I hope I can help you in this way.”

“Are you a Christian?” he asked.

“Yes, I am.” Mom replied.

“I am a Christian, too,” he continued. “You know Him as Jesus Christ. I know Him as the Great Spirit. Bless you.”

Then she did it.

I knew it was coming, I KNEW IT. In the dark streets of downtown USA, where the homeless lurked and fear transcends, she leaned in closer…and closer…

“Oh my goodness”, I murmured under my breath.

Before I could take a step to interrupt the exchange between Mom and the homeless man, they stood before me, embracing….hugging!!!!

“God bless you, sir.” Mom said.

I gave a quick glance to my Dad and he had a look of bewilderment on his face. As did I.

As we walked away, I whisper-screamed to her, “MOM! YOU DON’T HUG THE HOMELESS!!!!”

“Why not?” she asked. “Jesus did.”

I couldn’t really respond to that, but I’m sure I did with some lame remark about Jesus not being a 50 year old white woman in a BMW and a wallet full of cash.

My dad got on to her, too, but Mom reassured us that she would never do that if she were alone. She knew Dad and Husby were standing right there, should anything happen. She said he needed a hug. And “who knows the last time he had a hug….after all, he’s homeless.”

(And no, that’s not the first time Mom has hugged a stranger, but definitely the first time she hugged a stranger roaming the dark streets. I swear she needs a body guard.)

Though we all gave Mom a good talkin’ to, I’m pretty sure we were all pretty humbled by the situation. She showed him that she is right there along with him – no better, because she has a home and a car. No better, because she smelled of sweet perfume and he smelled of soiled garments and dirt. No better, because she was going inside to have a nice hot dinner, while he walked the cold dark streets.

We are ALL children of God. No one is too good to hug the homeless.

Which is exactly what I implied when I blurted out, “Mom! You don’t hug the homeless!!”

How incredibly arrogant of me.

No, we don’t know what he did with the money. But Mom is right. Jesus said to feed the hungry, to help the needy and to do it all in His name. I can hope, and pray that he used the money for food and that Mom’s generosity and kindness did not only bless him right then, but eternally. I pray that the “Great Spirit” he speaks of genuinely is Christ Jesus, and that the little Indian man downtown will find hope, peace and salvation this Christmas.

I pray that he saw Jesus in my Mom and that in turn, he will show Him to someone else. I pray she started a great cycle of salvation. I pray we reunite with him in Heaven.

51 comments:

  1. That was such a sweet thing your mom did! Especially since its christmas and time of sharing and giving! So sweet.

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  2. Never in my life have I met someone as generous as your mom. I look forward to her hugs every sunday!

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  3. That story sums up your mom perfectly. What a great lady she is. I am one of the fortunate ones who gets to call her friend.

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  4. Your mom sounds like an amazing lady...I think we can all learn from her.

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  5. What a great lesson to learn! Good for your mom! Homeless people arent bad, they just dont have all the things we have. I am glad your mom didn't judge him based on her bmw.

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  6. I can totally picture this whole thing playing out. Your mom is incredible! Bless her heart.

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  7. Wow!! Your mom is such a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas. On Christmas day my family always reads Matthew 25:34-40. It's so great to be reminded that even now we can feed the hungry and invite a stranger in.

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  8. Your mom is a saint! I occasionally give to homeless people and I always think of it as being an offering to God. What the homeless person does with it is up to them,but I think it's our job to give with our hearts.

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  9. I don't normally comment, but what a great story! How blessed are you to have such a great example of God's love in your life? Merry Christmas!

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  10. What a wonderful post, Whitney! Your mom really put things into perspective.

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  11. Such a sweet story, Whitney! Funny and so honest and sincere. I like your mom. Can she come, too, if we ever finally meet??? :)

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  12. I can see your mom doing that! She is such a sweet lady. We can all take a lesson from her; what a great example of Jesus.

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  13. Beautiful story, I pray that I can be more like your Mother!

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  14. What a beautiful and touching post. I'm sure there are many people (including me) who needed to hear this, especially during Christmas.

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  15. You know, I am just like you in these situations, feeling uncomfy, and hubs is normally the one to give a few dollars, he has even went and bought them big things of water, chips, food from the grocery store. And I always said, how do you know what they are doing, or that they are not driving a BMW and just begging. But he always assured me that God told him to do it, and it's not up to him what the person does with it, but the fact that he did what was asked of him. And it's right. Your mother makes me humble. I got goose bumps reading this.

    God bless her and your family! Happy Holidays :)

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  16. Thank you for sharing! So heartwarming, and a much needed reminder!

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  17. I work daily smack dab in the middle of that downtown about which you were talking. We deal with the homeless all the time. We have a ministry downtown that helps feed, clothe, and pay for utility bills of the homeless. My rule is to never give money to the homeless, but provide them with information about where they could go to get shelter, food, clothes, etc. That is, of course, unless I feel prompted by the Lord to give them money. but, I don't ever carry cash, and just for general safety purposes, I try not to let myself be confronted by the homeless. I'm glad you guys are safe and it sounds like it was one of those experiences that really makes ya think. (-:

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  18. What a great testimony. I have tears in my eyes. It's so easy to become focused on our own lives and miss God's opportunities to bless others and be a witness for him. Your mother's spirit in inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Good lesson... and your momma seems like an amazing person. I would have probably reacted the same way you did, but how nice that you can reflect back on the situation and learn from it!

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  20. I need to be more like your mom. I feel like God has been working on my heart in this area lately. So often I want to do something like this but then convince myself not to, what a great reminder this story was, and such an example of Christ. Thank you for sharing!

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  21. I totally want to meet your mom now more than ever. My mom sure wouldn't have done that...she grew up with people throwing bricks through her bedroom window so she's a bit scarred, but still - something we should all do. Good for her.

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  22. Your mother becomes a more beautiful person in my mind each time you blog about her. While it is dangerous to be trusting anymore...it's great to see that genuine love and compassion still exist. Give your mom an extra hug from me when you see her next. ;)

    Happy early Holidays!

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  23. Your mom is the greatest!! She just keeps getting better and better, lucky you to have such a great example in your life!
    Your such a great story teller as well!

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  24. What a great story. Definitely an important one to remember as we get all caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. What a great story! If you haven't read "Same Kind of Different As Me," I'd highly recommend it. A church friend gave it to me when I moved downtown, and it really helped give me a new heart for the homeless. (Which, in my Florida city where it stays warm year-round, there are a lot of.)

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  26. This brought tears to my eyes...
    Wonderful story. You have a wonderful mom.

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  27. I am moved to tears by this story. Why I don't act out in kindness in Jesus name more often is beyond me, but your story has inspired me to do that.

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  28. Oh my gosh this story brought me to tears. How lucky that the world is home to people like your mother. What a beautiful reminder of the Christmas spirit. Thank you for sharing.

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  29. Whitney, what a sweet mom you have. I want to be more like her. :)

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  30. You've heard stories about MY mom. She would have done the very same thing. May have even taken him by the hand and led him in to sit at our table in the restaurant. I learned much from her. I want to be the same!

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  31. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing! Your mom is such a great example.

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  32. LOL, I have to admit, I was starting to get upset reading how you felt about this man, etc., until you got to the part with your mom. I'm one of those people that kinda needs a bodyguard in situations like that, because I can't stand looking down on others or being scared of them because they are dirty or scary looking. I've gotten lectures from my hubby plenty! I tend to look at it as God will protect me in situations where I feel His peace about the particular situation.

    This brought me to tears and I am so glad your mom did that, and that you saw where she was coming from! What a beautiful, beautiful story of sharing God's love!!!

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  33. WOW your mom is a great example of how we all should aspire to live! I always feel awkward in situations like that but she handled it with grace and class. My mom's friend always keeps some coupons from McDonalds to give to someone who asks for money, so she is helping but also knows it's really going towards food! Extra in awe of your mom for the hug, everyone needs hugs!

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  34. Your mum sounds like a wonderful woman...a true Christian and an example to us all.

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  35. This story brought tears to my eyes. I loved how your mom radiated the love and generosity of Jesus Christ. Our Savior definitely did love on the homeless.

    Your post really inspired me! God bless you and your wonderful family =)

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  36. I did that once in the streets of London while ministering to the homeless and he tried to kiss me! Granted he was old and drunk whereas I was young and cute. Sometimes it isn't always appropriate but I def. see your mom's POV!

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  37. That story is the very true picture of your mom. She has a heart like HIS and indeed is one of HIS dear ones. I could see your mom do and say and hug just as she did. God blessed that homeless man because of your mom's obedience.
    A great Truth shared. Thanks Whitney for sharing it with us.

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  38. I just love your mom! I'm not sure what perfume wears, but everytime I smell it in the air I think of her!

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  39. I love this story and I just know that I would love your mother. My husband and I have the wonderful opportunity to work with the homeless in the heart of downtown L.A. on skid row. We work in a church there and have an incredible time loving and being loved by the homeless. I have learned so much from these people. I have been very blessed to witness the sacrifices of the homeless...I have watched many situations where a homeless man took notice of another homeless man's need for a blanket and he went to his hotel room to get him a blanket, to another man give a coat to another man. They are people too and just need to feel loved. I have received more hugs than I ever have in my life from my homeless friends. Tell your mom to keep it up, she might could just pass on the $20 and next time invite them in to dinner! =) Thanks for sharing!

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  40. oh my goodness...tears in my eyes. What a wonderful heart of Jesus your mom has. I think we could all learn a lesson from her. It is very easy to think that we are better than others because we have more, your mom set a true example of humility and the love of God. Yay for Glamma! :)

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  41. Wow, that was a great post! You're mom sounds like the sweetest person :)

    Mmmm now I'm thinking I want some Spaghetti Warehouse for lunch!

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  42. This world needs more of your moms!! We all could learn alot from her. Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.

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  43. Seriously... tears streaming down my face. What an amazing blessing your mom was. Completely unashamed to share the love of Christ!!

    Thanks for sharing, Whitney.

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  44. random comment :)

    that is such a wonderful story. it actually made me a little teary-eyed. i think that was exactly what i needed. what your mom said to that man is miraculous - at least to me, and i'm sure to that man.

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  45. That is so poignant. God treated everyone the same.

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  46. I'm so glad this story turned out the way it did as I must admit I was a little upset at the beginning of it - I'm a big believer that all humans are people and that nobody should be looked down upon because of their social status. So I was really thrilled and touched to see that your Mom taught you different in such a graceful way and I think it is great that we are all still learning at every stage of our lives. I hope that one day you pass this beautiful message on to Levi too.

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  47. Ya know, as I was reading this, I started to get annoyed. My husband and I have quite the heart for the homeless and when people begin to think down on them, it really bugs us. We eat dinner frequently with homeless people, we took a group under a bridge our thanksgiving leftovers and fed them (and talked, and hugged, and helped). I'm not saying this to sound arrogant PLEASE don't take it that way, because I am continuously humbled by the little amount that I feel I do. But, I just wanted to share a little something from the time I just mentioned. Now remember, this was thanksgiving, so we had all just talked about what we were thankful for... family, friends, blah blah blah. We took milk, cake, turkey, bread, etc. As I was pouring a woman a glass of milk, she said to me "I prayed for milk today, I can't remember the last time I had a glass of milk. This is such a luxury." Milk is her luxury. How humbling is that? And, more often than not, they do use the money for food, and if not, who am I to say what he should use a gift for? I definitely don't always use money gifted to me for something I need! More often than not, I use it for something I want!

    And just so you know, I was no longer as annoyed towards the end. But, I want to encourage everyone to just spend a little time at a shelter and talk to these people. I know as well as the rest of you how creepy it can be! But, sometimes, all they want is an ear to listen and a glass of milk.

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  48. What an amazing person. You've shown how hospitable and loving your mom is to her family, but she shares it with everyone else that comes her way, too. A message I needed to hear.

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  49. I'm sure that homeless man's problems all seemed to melt away when she hugged him! Her hugs are the best.

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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