That trip will forever be etched in my mind. It was an extended weekend of watching people achieve great feats of courage and stamina, it was a time to spend with our greatest friends, and it was a time focusing on each other without kids around. All of those memories bring such tremendous feelings of thankfulness, but there is a little dark spot on the weekend that I haven't shared with anyone. Because, you know what? I'm bothered and embarrassed by it.
Monday, after the race, we spent time on Magnificent Mile to shop and allow Steven and Erica (she also ran the marathon) some time to work out their legs before hopping on a plane. As we were heading from over priced store to over priced store, we walked passed a man who was very clearly struggling. He was wearing a hospital gown struggling to push a barely functioning walker down the street in the opposite direction as everyone else. He literally passed by my right shoulder so closely that I had to pull my arm in a bit or I would have knocked into him.
As I looked down, I was able to catch a glimpse of why he needed a walker in the first place. His right foot was wrapped in bandages covering his toes that were barely there. Just bloody stumps that were grotesquely infected. My heart hurt from the 2 second glance. I heard a little voice in my spirit that said, "Help him," but I did nothing. An overwhelming feeling of helplessness came over me. We were leaving in a few short hours. I didn't see any nearby places to get food. What was I to do? How was I to help? I had so many thoughts, yet I did NOTHING.
I can't tell you how often I think of that man. I know nothing of his life story. I know not if he was on drugs. He was very clearly dazed, but honestly would I be if I were him? Possibly. I wouldn't want to live that life. Bottom line he is a person. A man living, breathing, walking, and hurting. I did nothing. It shames me and motivates me at the same time.
This year I have mentioned our family is focusing on one service project each month. At first, I wanted to ease into it. Go with something that required little time and effort and gradually increase the service. That serves no one, but me and my own convenience. After a little digging I came across the Tulsa Homeless Outreach Program. That prompted me to touch that sore spot of not obeying the call to help. Although I cannot go back and fix my mistake, I can make some proactive changes.
For the next week or so, we are collecting gently used adult backpacks (we are good on kid backpacks) and new adult and children socks to pass out those in Tulsa who are homeless, living in their cars, or transitioning to apartment living. I've heard all kinds of comments since announcing this. Comments of praise and comments of concern. Here's what I stand on...
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax
My family is not there to judge why someone is on the streets, or who will get what based on how I think they'll receive a gift. My family is there to show that we care. We care that people are living lives less than what we have right now. We care that people are hurting. We care that people have dependency issues. We care. So if not caring does nothing and betters nothing, than by golly...WE CARE! That's our only motivation.
My kids may be disturbed by what they see. They may be uncomfortable. Heck, I know I'll be uncomfortable, but I'm looking forward to serving.
If this is something you are interested in joining, please let me know and I will pass on the details. Regardless if this is your area to help serve, I encourage to find somewhere to plug yourself into and make a difference...your church, your work, your relationships...lots of opportunities! As you serve, would you share with me? It might just peak my interest and I can add it to our monthly lists!