Well, today I dropped off the Neon (the state vehicle I drove to Chicago) and then came home and cleaned up a bit. I noticed that my Fuchsia and my petunias both fell off the balcony earlier this week when I was gone, and the plastic pot on the fuchsia smashed on the concrete right outside my bedroom. Well, the plants were almost dead, to my dismay, so I headed to Walmart to get some soil and a new pot, and get cat food and the like. On my way out of the Walmart parking lot was a young man dressed in rags, holding a sign that said "Broke and Hungry, please help! Or at least just smile!". I rolled my window up immediately, but then I sat there, waiting to get out of the parking lot, and I thought of Matthew 25:40. Then the scripture ran through my head..."when saw we thee an hungered, and gave thee meat..." well, I always have a hard time when I see bums or people looking for money. I never know what to do. I know many of them take the money and use it on booze, drugs, or cigarettes. Yet I know I can't just assume everyone does that. Plus, who am I to judge? It doesn't mean they need, or deserve, any less help; in fact, they need a lot more. I drove out of the parking lot and I remembered what I had done several times in the past; rather than just giving them money, I would buy them dinner or buy a few bags of groceries. Well, I'm pretty broke myself this month, because June is just horrible when it comes to bills, but one of the things I was talking to Rob about last night also flashed in my head. We had been talking about how grateful we are for the lives we have; problems and all. How blessed we are to have the gospel and to have everything that we DO have. We had talked about my parents divorce, and how that had affected me and my siblings (for me, it was actually a good thing and I recognized that at the age of 7). But I remembered saying to Rob, "Well, frankly, I just feel very sorry for my Dad. I know Heavenly Father will be lenient on him, because he didn't know any other life. His father had treated him, his siblings, and his mom horribly."
An image of that young man entered my mind again. I checked my wallet and noticed I had a few dollars, so I went to a nearby restaurant and grabbed some food for him. I was eager to return and give it to him:) I felt good knowing that whether or not he really needed help or not wasn't the case here; what mattered was that I saw someone who was in need, and knowing how blessed I am myself, I knew I could at least brighten that someone's day and do a kind act of service. In doing so, I knew I would be serving my Savior.
The young man thanked my simply, but I admired the strength in his voice. He was a good-looking guy, probably around 21 or so, but his voice was filled with determination and perseverence. He wasn't weak and it was obvious he didn't want anyone to think so, either. Hearing this strength in his voice made me realize that he probably didn't want to be there, asking for help. Very few people want help from others; their pride gets in the way. It's so hard to admit when we are incapable of doing something for ourselves. It's so hard to admit when we need help; when we need someone else. Despite what Heavenly Father has told us and warned us, we still rely entirely too much on ourselves, believing we know better, believing we can help ourselves, too proud to ask for help or guidance or love. This young man wasn't. He taught me a valuable lesson today. He taught me that we are here to serve each other, just as we are told in Matthew 25. Just as we sing in hymn #29 (A Poor Wafayaring Man of Grief -- my favorite hymn). As King Benjamin said to the Nephites: "When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God." He also taught me that it is ok to need someone; to need others in our lives. He reminded me of the value to be found in each and every one of us, and how important it is to recognize that in each other. We shouldn't allow pride to prevent us from seeking out the help and guidance that Heavenly Father has placed right before us! Sometimes we pray and beg our Father for help, wanting Him to send it, but not realizing that He had already given it to us; that it was there all along -- in the loving arms of a good friend, the embrace of a parent, the kiss of a beloved one; a smile on a stranger, even the purr of a cat. God's answers are all around us; he helps us and serves us through each other. And I am so grateful that this young man reminded me of this invaluable gospel truth.