When You Desperately Want to Help the World

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Today I went to Lowe’s, to the garden section, to see which plants are on sale. Green growing things are like medicine for me, so at the end of the season, when stuff is cheap, I stock up.

As I was pulling into the parking lot, I saw this lady on the side of the road in a wheelchair. She had a cast and a pitifully sad face and she was holding a sign that said she needed food and money. As I drove by and looked into her eyes, she stared back into mine and this skeptical part of me emerged. “How do I know you’re for real?” I thought. So, I drove on up to Lowe’s, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I kept asking God what I should do or what she needed, but He wasn’t exactly talking back loud enough for me to hear, so I just didn’t do anything.

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Even if she was just fine, though, what sort of mentality would drive a person to sit on the side of the road for hours in such a humiliating state?

I surveyed all the flowering things and picked out some butterfly bushes. I shuffled kids and told Sam not to climb the bird baths and wondered how to really help the world. I mean, how do you help the world, really, when your life looks a lot like trips to Lowe’s picking out flowers while there’s a lady who says she needs food and she’s sitting across the parking lot and there’s a little boy drowning, trying to make it across the sea?

My mom-in-law offered to give me some time to write, so I dropped the kids off at her house and made my way to the coffee shop. Feeling my usual distractable self, I stopped at some garage sales and a little antique store on the way.

Jesus has been teaching me a way of being with people, so that when I walk into a library or a grocery store or a coffee shop or wherever there’s other folks, I sort of subconsciously ask myself, “How can I add value to this person’s life?” So, as I meandered around in that antique store, I paid attention to the clerk and asked her some polite questions about herself, now and then. I remembered that life isn’t about me and my agenda. I’m here to love and give and take care of people, because that’s the heart of God beating inside of me.

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I found out that the lady I was talking to, owned the store and she’s gonna have to close it down after today. I found out that she’s a single momma and she hasn’t had an income for two years. I found out that life’s been hard for her and she needs some hope. So, I went out to the van and grabbed her a book. And I wanted to respect her dignity and not embarrass her but I happened to have a whole wad of cash, so I gave that to her, too. She cried and we hugged and I cried, too, because I could feel her ache, yes, but I could also feel the weight of hope tending to her hurting places.

I still don’t know what to do about the lady in the wheelchair. Or the Syrian refugees looking for freedom and safety. It doesn’t feel like enough, ever, and how do I sit here and drink coffee and type out words and hope that somehow that helps too?

Here at the coffee shop, I look up and there’s this quote on the wall:

“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and roadtrips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else. A living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.”  –Jamie Tworkowski

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With all my heart I keep believing that God is real and Jesus is the Remedy for sore and troubled hearts, and the way that we most feel His love in this world is through people. We feel it most through each other’s eyes. And smiles. Through each other’s words and through each other’s beating hearts. The Church, we’re broken and a wreck, too, but we’ve got this unending Love available to us. We get to be the “living, screaming invitation to believe better things.”

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. (from 1 Corinthians 13)

2 Comments

  1. by Laurie on September 4, 2015  5:01 pm Reply

    Amen my friend....it is a crazy time...
    Like wheat harvested and ground up to make bread .... He can use our broken hearts to reach out to others.... So grateful you yield to his leading... And that you openly share...

  2. by Clare on September 4, 2015  5:50 pm Reply

    Hey Maggie, you have this uncanny knack of taking my same thoughts and feelings and turning them into the words I wish I could write. My heart breaks for this world and I wish I knew how to better help it.
    Thank you for this post. Beautiful as usual.

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