Starbucks and Life Lessons

Friday, December 13, 2013 11 Comments A+ a-

I’m the one that avoids homelessness as much as possible.  When I drive up to an intersection where a man or woman holds a sign and the light turns red, I turn up the radio and look out the opposite window to avoid eye contact.  I’m the one that giggled nervously when we were approached on the 16th Street Mall.  I’m the one that because I don’t know how to respond, I just don’t respond at all.  And I’m ashamed of it.

imageTonight, Hudson and I had a coffee/hot chocolate date at Starbucks.  It was one of those coffee shops that sits adjacent to a grocery store.  I noticed the gentlemen sitting at the corner table as soon as we walked inside.  I didn’t think anything of them as we made our way to the register and placed our order.  I didn’t give them a second thought as I swiped my card and we took our treats to the table across from theirs.  My mind was on the quality time I was about to have with Hudson, and the brownie-peppermint cake pop I was going to devour. 

And then I noticed the men noticing us and I started squirming in my seat.  Each had a cup of coffee in their hand, a newspaper laid out on the table in front of them.  It was obvious they were dragging out their time in the store, sipping their coffee as slowly as possible to prolong their time in the warmth.  I could feel the heat rush up the back of my neck because I knew.  I KNEW.  I was being given a choice and it meant going way out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to because I like my comfort zone.  Its safe there. 

I told Hudson to finish his hot chocolate, and when he was done, I tucked his hand in mine and we walked over to the two men. 

“Hey pretty lady!” the first man said to me.  He smiled a toothless smile and he asked Hudson for his name.  We chatted for a bit, and then I took a deep breath. 

“Are you hungry?” I asked.  “We have to grab a few things for our dinner, and I was wondering if we could grab something for you too.”  Hudson twisted his hand in mine, and I realized I’d been holding it a little too tightly.  I looked between the two men, hoping they understood my intention was honorable, that I meant no disrespect, and hoping they’d say yes.

The older man looked down at the table, then locked eyes with mine.  “I’m not asking for that, ma’am.  I’m not asking.”  I touched him on the shoulder, “I know, I know.  I’m offering.  In the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to buy you dinner.”

They exchanged a look, smiled at us, and then nodded their heads in agreement.  I assured them that we’d be right back, then Hudson and I headed into the grocery store.  The heaviness in my heart grew as we selected chicken and some side dishes; the lump in my throat got bigger as Hudson decided we needed to get them drinks too, and then insisted on carrying the Gatorade himself.  I teared up as I paid the cashier and silently prayed.  “Father.  Please.  If ever one of my children is placed in their position, please take care of them.” 

We delivered the food to the table, complete with plates and eating utensils.  We shook hands and exchanged names.  It was when the older man wouldn’t let go of my hand that I realized that sometimes, its more than physical needs that need to be met.  Its human touch, it’s the dignity of being acknowledged, it’s knowing that someone cares, even if for just a moment.

We said our goodbyes and we wished each other a Merry Christmas.  When we walked back to our car, hand in hand, Hudson turned to me.  “Mama, we did a good thing, didn’t we?  I think God is happy right now.”  And the tears I’d been holding back, spilled over.

There is much I don’t do right in this life.  I make mistakes and take wrong turns.  I turn away, more often than I turn towards, and yes, tonight I made the right decision.  But what about all the other times I pretend to not see them or don’t want to be bothered?  What about those times that I feel God pulling at my heart but its too uncomfortable to obey?  I thought about the nice warm house that was waiting for us, the fridge and cupboards that were full of food.  I thought about the gifts sitting under the tree and the love of family that I take too often for granted.  I became all too aware of our blessings, uncomfortably so…

“Mama?” came the voice from the backseat.  “I think we should do that more often.”  Oh yeah, sometimes the innocence of children and their convictions can humble me to my very core.  It was in that moment that I realized the lesson I’d hoped would touch Hudson, touched me instead.

“I think that’s a great idea, Buddy.  Let’s keep our eyes open for moments like that again.” 

Starbucks and life lessons.  Who knew?

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

11 comments

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Brandi
AUTHOR
8:59 PM delete

Two years ago, my best friend quit his job quit his job to volunteer full time in a Chicago homeless shelter for a year. I was humbled to spend an overnight there. It was life changing. Prior to that, I could avoid eye contact and ignore everyone I passed on the street. Since then...ugh. I am just destroyed. I still don't help as often as I should, but I do my best. You are so right-the dignity of being acknowledged goes just as far as, if not more so, than the physical needs.

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Jamie
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9:04 PM delete

Aww!! What a great story and deed! :)

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Jaime
AUTHOR
9:49 PM delete

What a beautiful story! You've inspired me to be on the lookout for my own chance to reach out!

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Momof4Girls
AUTHOR
10:55 PM delete

THESE are the teachable moments in life!! I'm so proud of you! You not only taught Hudson how to help with the physical needs of someone homeless, you taught him how to be the love of Christ with a touch and a conversation. A lesson he will NEVER forget. The scripture that says "Feed my sheep" keeps going on in my head. What a blessing! Love you munchkin!! :)

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Kendra
AUTHOR
10:59 PM delete

That is awesome. I can totally identify with the awkwardness of not knowing what to do and just avoiding it all...even though I know in my heart that it is wrong. Thank you for sharing...this story will help me be bold to share God's love next time I encounter someone in need.

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Tracy
AUTHOR
8:09 AM delete

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing!

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8:49 AM delete

What an awesome story!! Such a great lesson to teach your sweet son!

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Holly
AUTHOR
10:40 AM delete

Crying tears of joy reading this. You are a blessing, Jenn, and that was an incredible act of love that you showed those men. I am sure that the light of God was shining through you and Hudson and that others were just as touched!! Merry Christmas :)

Matthew 5:16

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Tyly
AUTHOR
7:41 PM delete

Wow. You have completely inspired me! I've always been the uncomfortable, look away quickly person, but now I'll think twice. Thank you!

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Michelle
AUTHOR
9:43 AM delete

Love this! Thanks for sharing Jenn - definitely was in tears reading this as it was so beautiful and I love that you were able to do it with Hudson!

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Paula
AUTHOR
3:42 PM delete

Thank you for sharing. I do the same. I am just not comfortable. You are right, the human touch, acknowledgement, dignity. ....I will think about that next I see the situation.

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