My lesson learned & an amazing story of God's handiwork

Part of why I love and value my friends from APU so much, is their heart for others. They don't judge, they see the best, and they love people. One of our favorite things we did during those college days was just to walk around different cities and see life being lived and all the different kinds of people that live it. This included everyone, from homeless people to entertainers, to artists to musicians. My friends and I always came away meeting new, different, interesting people. All of whom have their own story. All of whom who are in a different place in life, and a different part of their journey. This love and respect for people is something I deeply value and appreciate. Seeing people in a humanizing way is something I think Jesus did when he walked this earth. I think it is important not to just disregard people, but to see them, to acknowledge them, and to show them love.

I think teaching this to our kids is equally important. I would never want my son to look down on someone else for their differences, or because they are homeless. I want him to see people, as people. To show them kindess, to show others compassion, and to always have humility. I know this is a hard lesson to learn. This is a life practice that ought to be renewed daily, and it is easy to neglect. This is why I was so thrilled, when one day when I put Caleb to bed, he asked if we could pray for the gardeners. I don't know where this request came from, but I could not have been more proud. Gardeners are another group of people who can be easily looked over. Yes, they come and do their job in helping our land look nicer and everything look more kept up, but I have wondered how often they are acknowledged? How often are we kind to them, or do we ignore them? All that to say, I was thrilled when he wanted to pray for them. I think we probably just thanked God that we have people to do what they do (so I don't have to...ha, I am mostly kidding). I know this goes for anyone, not just gardeners. But he saw them and remembered. For that, I was proud.

I have learned about a conflict I have with myself the hard way. We have had a homeless lady sleep outside of our patio behind the gate in the park for the past year. I have seen her around for while. She usually keeps to herself, but I have tried talking to her a few times. She seemed like she wanted to be left alone, so I respected that. I always felt like I should offer her food or drink, but I didn't want to impose on her personal dignity or show some lack of respect.

Yesterday, she was packing up her stuff outside of the gate by my patio, and I asked her how she was doing. She replied that she had better days, so I asked her if she needed anything. She said she could use a shower and I told her she could shower at my house. She asked if I could do her a favor, and hold on to a guitar for her. She was worried someone would steal it and said it was one of the few possessions she had. I said that was fine, and she came over. She talked with me for a bit and showered. She had all of her own stuff and didn't want to use anything I had. The lady left, but wanted to leave the guitar at my place for safekeeping and said she would be back in a few days for it. I later noticed that she also had an iPad with the guitar that she left that she never mentioned. I found this all to be very suspicious. Plus the guitar was noticeably really nice and seemed to belong to someone who was a musician. She had said she doesn't play. I was uncomfortable with having this stuff and was looking for her in the park to give it back to her. I never saw her for the rest of the day.

I was feeling very conflicted because while I still have the same heart as I did in college, I am not sure how wise it was inviting a homeless woman whom I do not really know, into my house. I am a single mom. I don't have roommates anymore (I sure wish I did though). It is different now. I think that while I have this heart and desire of treating homeless people with humanity and dignity, using wisdom and discretion are important. Sure, it was a shower that I offered her. And it really was fine. But I think I have learned through this experience that I need to use a better measure of wisdom. An alternative approach could include an offer for food, or a giftcard for a grocery store. Perhaps if I were not living alone or married, it would be a different story. My desire to be hospitable remains. But in my situation, it is has to look different.

This kind of inner conflict I just dealt with reminds me of what happened last year, on Cinco de Mayo. My friends and I witnessed a tremendously sad and upsetting violence against a young woman. At that time, I was met with a similar conflict. Being a mom, taking the same level of action may not be safe or wise. Although, in the situation we were in, I don't think any of us would have done anything differently, besides not park on a known gang street. We didn't know it was of course. The point is, being a mom, using prudence is more important than ever. In the Cinco de Mayo situation, the police asked me if I would testify in court. Due to the nature of the situation and the gang involvement, I decided it was best for me to cease any further involvement. Having a son was clearly most of the driving force in that choice.

Back to the story-The next day, this morning, Caleb and I went to church. Pastor Steve was speaking about the difficulty that can rise during good times. To my shock, he used the church as an example saying that just two days ago, someone broke into the church and stole a guitar and an iPad! I could not believe it. I frantically looked for the worship pastor. I am pretty sure he knew I had his guitar and the iPad just by the look on my face. He and another pastor had prayed about it the day before, and had even looked into getting a new guitar. None of that worked out, and the next day, it all came together.

I felt very shook up about all of it. I was conflicted from the start because my desire to show hospitality to this lady, crossed a boundary I probably should have had in place, being a single mom. Then when she left those items, I was more suspicious and my uneasiness increased. When I found out that these belong to the church I attend, I was overwhelmed. It was like God stepped into the story and brought it to a close. It wasn't just a coincidence. In fact, Pastor Steve didn't even mention what had happened as an example of difficulty in the first service. He only mentioned it in mine. I was overwhelmed with this feeling that God was with us the whole time. And I know that he is with her too. She was arrested with no charges pressed because of the breaking and entering and subsequent theft. I recognize this is a consequence of her actions, but I still felt badly about my role in her arrest. I was grateful when the church prayed for her, and will pray for her on my own. I hope for her, the help she needs. I hope for her healing and restoration in whatever way she may need. I hope for her, home. While I learned an important lesson, I remain amazed at God's fancy handiwork in all of this. As none of it was a coincidence.