Pay it Forward
Pay it Forward
Today I was at my mother’s house. I’d popped in to collect some library books and chit chat for a moment. I was pressed for time because my classes started last week (Behavioral Sciences/Substance Abuse) and 5 classes + 2 teens is nothing to sneeze at! She asked me if I wanted the new pair of house slippers on her sofa- her neighbor had given them to her: size 10, just my size. They were gray, with gray fur trim around the edges and super soft inside. I accepted them, and with a hug and a kiss I was out the door.
I had only driven a few blocks down the road when the feelings were put on my heart to go and take the shoes to the local homeless shelter. It would have been fairly easy to go and drop them off as a donation, I’m sure somebody could have used them. But this felt more personal, and the feelings that were tugging at my heart were very clear, “Go to the parking lot- somebody will be there that can wear them.”
I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that these feelings were too strong to ignore. I had to go. The shelter used to be a church- it’s in a seedy part of town and known to be running rampant with drug addicts and alcoholics. I know the scene well- I lived there years ago. I took the back alley, keeping my eyes peeled; I didn’t see anybody at first, it looked pretty empty. As I got closer, I could see two couches out at the dumpster right at the edge of an alley. Sitting on one of the couches was a woman in her 50’s, facing the alley- backpack at her feet. There was nobody else around. She sat as still as a stone and even as I pulled up alongside her, she didn’t turn her head. I knew immediately she was the one I was meant to find.
I took the slippers and walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, I have some new, gray slippers here, would you happen to be able to wear a size 10?” (I didn’t want to come across as a total whack-job, but I knew I had to do this.) She was startled, but gratefully accepted the slippers- she wore a 9 1/2. Bingo!
We talked for a moment and she told me about her sister who’d been brutally murdered in the city next to us only a year before. She also told me about her daughter she hadn’t seen in over three years. I shared some of my own story with her along the same lines and I felt for a moment, that we were able to share an understanding of sorts, we truly had walked in each others’ shoes in life. I shared with her that I was a former resident and knew her plight all too well. I too was no stranger to losing a child. I asked her if she had a Bible- she did, a small one in her pocket. Then I asked her if she had any money. She looked frightened and I realized how my question had sounded! I explained that I didn’t want money, I wanted to give her a few dollars. At first, she was hesitant, but I knew she was embarrassed, so I made light of the situation, handing her $20.00. I told her that if I had two pennies, I would give her one, knowing that God had all things in His hands. What I give, He will make sure I get back somewhere else.
She broke out in tears and I gave her a big hug. I asked her her name and she told me it was Lucille. “Lucille, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Everything is going to get better, it really will. It’s going to take time! But it will get better,” I told her. And with that, I left.
This evening my friend stopped by. I hadn’t seen her in several months and we had tea and cake and a nice visit. I shared my earlier experience with her regarding Lucille. I had been feeling almost selfish, like I wanted to keep Lucille all to myself. It’s not every day something like that happens! It had become suddenly very precious to me, but I told her about Lucille and how God had put it upon my heart to go and look for her there.
After my friend had left, I went to my computer. (I needed to try and get an Algebra assignment in.) Sitting there by my keyboard was a twenty dollar bill. Before my friend had left, she had snuck in here and left the money on my desk. Smiling, and in shock, I sat here and shook my head, and then I laughed. I knew exactly how Lucille had felt earlier.
I love that life is so beautiful. (So hard sometimes!) But so beautiful, and our lives can be touched by total strangers…