Today as I was walking to Checkers (for the second time this morning) with Gareth, Struan, and Adebayo, a homeless woman was hit by a car. I heard the sound and turned around to see what had happened. The person lay motionless on the pavement (I didn’t know it was a woman until we got closer). As we approached, it was clear to see that she was seriously hurt. Instinctively I began to pray under my breath, restraining my desire to run over to her side. As we stood there, I began to feel frantic- should I pray outloud? Should I call the police? Should I move her out of the road? What do I do?
Never have I felt so utterly helpless. The whole scene was unreal and I was shocked at how calm I was, looking back. Even when she began to splurt blood from her mouth and nostrils, I didn’t lose control of my emotions. My mind was thinking a thousand thoughts a minute. Fear gripped my heart. Fear for the woman’s wellbeing. Fear of praying out loud. Fear of what others might think if I tried to help.
Most people told us to not touch her, she might have a broken neck. But as I stood there looking at her in her helpless state, coughing up blood and not even being able to breathe, I could not believe that NO ONE was touching her. Not even holding her hand. I knelt and grabbed her hand, but I still didn’t know what to do.
Eventually Gareth convinced me that the ambulance would come for her. I didn’t want to budge, I wanted to do something that would actually help her, but what would that be? Fear kept me where I was. We walked into the grocery store and as I found an empty aisle, I walked down it, letting the tears run freely.
How could I have just stood there as the poor woman lay on hot concrete, surrounded by strangers? What if it hadn’t been the woman, but one of my DTS friends that had gotten hit? I would’ve run to their side right away and talked to them, stroked their hair…SOMETHING!!! What the hell is wrong with me? As soon as we got home, I ran up to a roof balcony with my pillow and cried into it. I told God how sorry I was for not loving her. For not doing anything. For letting fear dictate my actions. For being apathetic. I could sense him telling me not to feel guilty. And as I quieted down, he gave me peace. But he then began to speak to me something that I think will change my life.
He wants me to change how I view people. Every single human being is made in the image of God, therefore has infinite value. Every person is loved by God equally. Why had I hesitated at the accident? Because in my heart I believed that her life, as a homeless beggar woman, was not as valuable as someone who had a car, a house, a family, nice clothes. What a lie. I thought maybe she would be fine, like it was okay that she was bleeding from her mouth and nose. It seemed so natural for her to be there on the ground, when in reality, who knows what they are supposed to do when they are in pain? Does anyone plan on getting hit by cars, can you take a class where they teach you how to respond in a situation like that? No!
It was too easy for me to just take her hand and pray silently. God is challenging me to love people and love is difficult action. Love should be hard to do. Often times I have the right heart intentions, but don’t show love in a true way. For instance, the street kids I see every day on my way to Checkers, I have started to give them food every now and again. Is that love? At first glance, one might say yes. But it’s not. For me, it’s something easy to do that has made me feel better about passing them by. But what if I were to sit down with them, hold them, talk to them, laugh with them, really get to know them? That would be real love. That would not be easy to do. And that is what God is telling me to do.
Never again will anyone lie alone in pain if I am there. I will hold their hand, talk to them, sing to them, pray for them… without regard to what anyone says or thinks. I want to be the love of Jesus to everyone I meet.
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” -Matthew 25:40
I want to see the face of Jesus when I look into people’s faces. Imago Dei. I want to stop giving people different value in my own mind, I want to see the great value they have in God’s eyes, and treat them as such.
May you love today without holding back for fear of anything. May you love in such a way that the world sees something radically different in you. May that love draw people to Jesus.