Helping others is an interesting thing. I find it brings more joy to me than anything else.
The Matthew West song, "My Own Little World" touches my hear each time I hear it. Yesterday on my way back from running errands and I heard the song and it spoke to me. I thought if I saw a homeless person or someone in need instead of passing by them and pretending they don't exist I was going to acknowledge them as a person and give them a little money, regardless of what they spent it on.
Not 2 minutes later as I pulled off the interstate there was a homeless man, not a lot older than me. One thing I remember about the interviews with Ted Williams, "the homeless man with the golden voice" is him saying one of the worst parts of being homeless is you feel invisible, people don't even acknowledge you exist. This touched me as well. How hard is it to say, "hi" and acknowledge someone else is another human being that deserves respect like the rest of us?
The exchange was simple, I rolled down my window, smiled and said, "hi, how are you"?, to which the man responded with a smile and, "a little better now". I handed him all my change, couldn't have been much more than a dollar, I smiled again and said, "may God bless you" and the light turned green and I went on my way.
The interesting part is how it impacted me. I've given money and food to the homeless before but over time has become a bit cynical about the whole situation. A lot of people are homeless because they struggle with mental illness, or alcohol or drug addiction, and money is often spent on drugs or alcohol, but you know what I realized yesterday, it is not my place to judge. I will not miss a dollar or even five. We have always been blessed with enough to meet our needs, even when things have been tight. It is much more important to respond to someone in need with compassion rather than judgement. This doesn't mean every time I see someone asking for money I'll be able to give but it does mean when I feel moved to give I won't resist it.