I had one of those moments this week. You know, the kind of momentÂ where what you say you believe is abruptly confronted with whether or not you actually apply that in the real world. I was sitting in my car, about to leave another incredible charity event, when I looked out my window and saw a woman in her mid-50â€™s â€“ clearly distressed â€“ standing on the sidewalk. She refused to approach my car but motioned to me to roll my window down. Without hesitation, I did. â€œAre you ok?â€ I asked her. Before she would even begin to tell me why she had asked me to roll down my window, she began to apologize. She apologized for everything– for what she looked like, for how she was dressed, for the way she spoke, and for what she was sure I probably thought about her. I felt my heart break for this woman who felt totally undervalued,Â worthless and ashamed. Without giving it too much thought,Â I reached through my window, took her hand and said, â€œLook me in the eye.â€ Slightly shocked, she did. I said intently, â€œI want you listen carefully to every word that Iâ€™m about to say to you.â€ She nodded. I was fighting to hold back tears as I began to tell her exactly what I tell my children: â€œYou are beautiful- exactly the way you are. You were designed for a very special, very unique purpose. Stop apologizing for how you look, and how you sound- stop apologizing for everything that makes you who you are. God loves you just for being youÂ and you need to walk in that, ok?â€ She burst into tears and exclaimed, â€œGod sent me an angel…a little white angel!â€
As it turned out, the real reason she has stopped me was that she needed to get home that night and had no way of doing so. She had come to Philadelphia to be with her mother who had been hospitalized earlier that week and her car had broken down on her way home (I could see her car pulled over with the flashers blinking on the next block). The police had told her that no oneÂ would tow the car as long as she stood by it until the mechanic could come get it, which was supposed to be around 11:30 p.m. I’m a self-diagnosed problem solver, so this was an easy fix- all I had to do was buy her an Amtrak ticket. I whipped out my iPhoneÂ and with a few clicks quickly discovered that the last train to Newark left at 11:04 p.m. No good.Â I then began calling every major bus company in Philadelphia (all of which are supposed to have offices that are open until 2 a.m. according to their websites) but no one would answer. She had more cash on her than I did, and her $2.17 and my $1.00 did not equal a bus fare. At this point I was completely frustrated that I was unable to solve her problem and now I was apologizing to HER!
As I was hanging half way out of my car window to give her a hug goodbye, I noticed a well dressed man walking by andÂ not-so-subltly eavesdropping on the tail end of our conversation. As she walked away, I watched in my rear view mirror as he slowed down and began to walkÂ beside her. They walked to the corner and began talking. The “walk” light came on, but they continued talking. The “10-9-8…” countdown began, but they continued talking. As the “do not walk” signal lit up, I watched the man reach into his pocket and pull out a bus ticket. A BUS TICKET!
In that moment, I wondered how many other opportunities I had missed because I didn’t have the money or the resources to meet the need myself at that exact moment. It’s easy to forget that the answer isn’t always money. SometimesÂ the answer is just showing love and kindness toÂ someone so that your actions can inspire the personÂ who DOESÂ have the ability to meet that need to step in! AlthoughÂ I wasn’t able to meet that woman’s practical need, the man with the extra bus ticket in his pocket certainly was!Â Love is an action. It encourages and inspires. It lifts people up and it meets practical needs. You never know who is watching, orÂ who you will inspire to make a difference.
Go live “LOVE” in the real world today, and let us know what happens!
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