The other day when I was driving out of a parking lot, I saw a homeless woman with a dog, set up for her shift, sign in hand, as I drove past her, I had my obligatory dollar to hand her. Not sure if it was the dog that got to me or the guilt of not knowing how to really help, but I was ready as I drove by. When she reached for the money, for a split second our eyes met and we connected in a way that words can’t explain. It was as if I realized in that fragile moment how blessed I was to be the one giving rather than the receiving. Because, even though my husband is out of work and working on a new business opportunity, it is not quite “there” yet, and we are praying as we get to that point of living on faith…we still have a roof over our heads and are blessed.

As I handed that dollar bill out the window as I drove past her in my newer than not car, I felt an invisible line seem to fade, a veil lift and wondered about her story. I prayed a silent prayer and hoped that she had water for the dog. It was so hot and I wished I had some water to give her.

Sure, I know, the skeptics may say she is better off than me. Giving money like that doesn’t help. But I selfishly couldn’t just drive by and she seemed to be doing pretty well because the car in front of me and behind seemed to hand her something as well. The skeptics may be right or they may just be telling themselves that to ease their own consciences. The fact is that we all aren’t too far away from being in her shoes, jobless, homeless, and overwhelmed. I know it is hard not to judge but we need to take our disdain and do something productive with it.

This morning, I saw that same woman near the off ramp of the freeway. I noticed right away because there was a squad car there with his lights on. It happened to be at a stop light, so I got more time to survey the scene and I watched the officer, a young, good looking, guy, smiling and animatedly talking to this woman with what seemed like respect and grace. They seemed to be in the midst of a friendly conversation. I am sure he was instructing her to move for safety purposes but witnessing the interaction gave me hope for her. I said a little prayer as I drove by for both of them, praying that perhaps he could help guide her to some resources and it made me think…

Sometimes we find ourselves in predicaments that feel out of control and try to take matters into our own hands. We forget to go to God for the answers or we do and don’t wait for HIM. Instead we stand at the off ramp of our life and beg. And sometimes God has to guide us in another direction because HIS way is a much better way for us in the end.

4 thoughts on “Our Off Ramps

  1. As you often do you make a statement that transcends the situation. In this case that an act of kindness, even if in error, can do good in unintended or indirect ways. Modeling charity and caring can never be a wrong thing. If we help the devil up to do more mischief someone will still see us helping the downtrodden and maybe they will do the same for someone more deserving in the future. Your mention of your daughters paper is touching, I don’t need to read it to know — that was some reward you were given.

    Your good heart combined with your wisdom are a blessing to me.

  2. This is going to sound cold. I do respect your good sense and intuition in this particular case. There are, however, realities and possibilities to weigh.

    It has been estimated by cops who talk to and/or follow and investigate sign-holding beggars that 80% of them have good full-time jobs, homes, and families and the dressing down and begging supports their drug habits.

    The better beggars who are pure pros and have a “good corner” or spot pull in up to 80 grand per year during nicer weather and take off the rest of the year.

    I do give something when the urge hits me but I am lucky enough to make huge differences sometimes. I was able to wrangle saving two different households who were each paying $1400 per month and reduced that to about $400 per month each. My mom died and I sold her house to her neighbors for very little. And we moved and I gave a great deal to a couple I know. So I sold two places lightening quick for less than I was likely to get and got to move on with our lives rather than be chained down.

    I’ve sold four houses in my lifetime and the longest one took a week to seal the deal. We find out what comparable places are selling for and not selling for and then price it to sell. It isn’t hard unless you need to squeeze every penny out of the place and then it seems to take forever and you have to keep paying taxes and things and the longer you wait the more you lose in my book.

    You have taken Dawn’s place as my blog rough draft site!

    1. Sorry, Dawn? I am thinking that I am supposed to know who that is. Could it be FG?
      Anyway, I have also had my share of encounters with giving and feeling lied to. One was someone asking me for gas money in a Target parking lot and asking me again two days later. And after giving her $8 the time before, confronting her the second time and saying. “You gave me that line two days ago.” She pulled the racist card saying “maybe you think we all look alike.” I was offended because that was not even in my remote consciousness of what I was thinking at all! I was thinking… “hey honey, you played my heart strings to the tune of $8 and basically made me suspicious from now on.” In the past, I have picked up a mother and taken her to a grocery store and took her shopping and then dropped her back off with her daughter at the van she had been begging near as her husband and the rest of her kids waited. I even gave a Barbie my daughter had left in her carseat to the little girl, knowing i could buy my baby another one. I have given while my daugher was with me, never realizing the impact it had made on her as later I read about it in a story penned up on the wall of her classroom… sure, some of them are drugees and are lying and I have even caught a few in lies to me…. but if I can make an impact on my daughter about giving and if you could have read her story about the memory… it didn’t matter to me if they were lying, if you could have read her story. And she knows…. she once gave her own money to a guy in a wheelchair who she later saw walking…I just told her that God judges her heart and that’s all that matters. But the world teaches us lessons. Hard ones. And I do know that there are a few guys with signs that stand outside of the local Walmart parking lot that I have been told live in nice near by neighborhoods around the corner. So you are right. I just know that when I feel like giving. I pray that God leads me to the ones in need.

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