Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Man Named Charles- and two pieces of chicken

What kind of Crazy Love kinda life is this I'm leading? Even I know that rejoicing in times of struggle is unusual and yet I'm finding myself finding joy all around me. Seriously. Me. Griping, complaining, embarrassed, humiliated, broken me. My flesh says that our financial struggles are an embarrassment. My kids deserve to "have it all." They really do. All four of them are leading lives that draw people to them. They want to help others and serve God. Well, Sam, not so much, but he would help someone in need if he could. He always begs to put a dollar in the kettle when we pass one. He loves to feed the homeless. I take that back- Sam too! Well today I had another "chance encounter" that left me wondering if God Himself is stalking me.

There I was, minding my own business cruising Food City with a shopping cart full of "must-haves" for dinner plus and impulse purchase or two. Reindeer cupcake toppers, cinnamon bread for Sam, bananas, apples, etc. when I'm approached by an elderly black man dressed in shabby, but warm clothes and a ball cap. As he walks toward me he says, "Don't be mad at me. Please don't yell at me. I don't want money, I don't want money." To say I was taken off guard would be an understatement. Again, I felt that same sort of "shock" I felt earlier this week when I met that little angel. Could this guy be an angel as well??

I told him I was not going to be mad at him and how could I help. He went on to explain that he was from Lenoir City and someone was coming to pick him up. He'd just stepped into the store to get out of the cold. He shared that he has just been discharged from the hospital (he showed me his hospital bracelet still around his wrist as proof) because he has Type II diabetes. He wanted me to buy him two pieces of chicken. Two pieces of chicken??? Seriously? (My mind flashed back to the minutes before I left the house...I knew I had gone back to get the $10 in cash I'd stashed in my jacket pocket for a reason, I just didn't know WHY - now I did. The man explained that the special deal was $2.75, so I handed him $3 and asked if he would do something for me. He said he would. I asked him if he would help out someone else when he found himself in a position to do so, and he nodded his head and said, "Yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am, I'll do that." Off he went.

My bewildered self was left to relive the moment. I handed him money, but I never touched him. I didn't call him by his name. I never validated him as a human being. This wasn't over...Oh God, this is so out of my comfort zone. Can't it just be about the money? Didn't I do what I was supposed to do? Not according to God . I felt I needed to sit down and talk to him while he ate, but I argued with myself. Maybe he didn't even get chicken. Maybe his ride came to pick him up. Maybe he wants to be alone. And the real argument, maybe I'll cry for him. Or for me. I didn't even know, but I had to act.

I called Tom and Drew who were on their way to pick me up and told them to come in when the got to the store. They did, but it was before I made it over to the deli counter where I'd seen the man purchasing his two pieces of chicken. Oh well, no time, right? Too late, right? Let's get out of here...Tom and Drew bagged up the groceries and headed to the car with them. Rain? More rain? I asked them to pick me up from the sidewalk because I didn't want to run out in the rain. Bad idea. More moments alone with God...

Go. Now. Go. Don't regret the things you DIDN'T do...NOW! I went. As I approached him, I asked him how he liked his chicken. He told me it was good. I noticed he didn't have any vegetables, so I asked him about the meal deal. He said he didn't have enough to get the vegetables, but it was okay because the chicken was good. What kind of vegetables would you like? Mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans. You got it. When I took the food to him, I asked him his name. "My name is Charles" he told me. "Charles, I'm Amy." "It's good to meet you Miss Amy!" "You too, Charles. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!" So, tonight, I'm thinking of Charles. Merry Christmas, Angel Charles, wherever you are.

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