Saturday, February 03, 2007

Better to Give than Receive

I was on my to way work--a typical hour drive from LA's south side into the valley, or more specifically, North Hollywood. It was about 7:30 in the morning. Though I didn't have to be there until 9, only early birds get the worm or in this case, a parking space. So, I headed out early and got some gas. As I drove into the station, a woman, dressed in an oversized coat, appeared out of nowhere. She stood right by the pump that I was going to use. Of course, in LA and other big cities, this is a common practice of drug addicts and homeless people looking to hit you up for money. When I got out the car, I had already decided to ignore her. But I reminded myself that it was only by the grace of God I was not in the position she was. This thought led me to make eye contact with her. "Can I pump your gas for you?" She asked. "No," I responded and quickly looked away. Then without begging or creating a scene, she stepped away from the pump and stood near the gas station's busy mini-market. I continued watching her. Usually when someone is desperate for money, they continue to beg and sometimes harass anyone close by. She did not. The more I observed her, the more I thought about my own life. I've hit rock bottom financially, but never did I have to beg for money from strangers. I have, however, relied on friends. Thank God for good friends. When I returned to the car to put my ATM card back in my purse, the corner of a five dollar bill caught my attention. Without another thought I pulled it from my wallet and proceeded to look for the woman. It took a minute to find her amongst the customers entering the store. I didn't want to blow my horn, so began waving instead. That caught the attention of a man standing near her. I pointed at her and he motioned for her to look in my direction. She began walking towards the car. Once she was close enough, I handed her the five dollar bill. Quietly, she said, "thank you" and walked away again. There was no questioning of what she would do with money. Frankly, I didn't care. The important thing to me was doing what I felt was right to do in that moment. While driving out the station, I noticed her waiting to cross the street. When traffic lessened she ran across and entered a little restaurant. Seeing that made me feel good. It felt good to be a blessing to someone. And if even she hadn't entered the restaurant, I would have felt the same way. Truly, if you want to be blessed, then be a blessing to someone else. It doesn't have to be anything grand, even small gestures of kindness can be greatly appreciated. God smiles on these acts, and when you need a helping hand He returns the favor to you when you least expect it.

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